Hitchin Lavender Fields

Visiting Hitchin Lavender | BakingBetsy.com

After a week of being ill, I dragged the kids up to Hitchin Lavender to run free and blow the cobwebs away. I also wanted to use the zoom lens (with macro function!) I have but hadn’t used in years. I saw my cousin Felix the other weekend (who is the most brilliant photographer who specialises in butterflies. Seriously, check him out on Instagram) who has the same lens and inspired me to use it a bit more. Also, I hadn’t really taken any decent pictures of the children in ages and wanted a couple of portraits. It took a few minutes for Betsy to get used to the idea of that.

Visiting Hitchin Lavender | BakingBetsy.com

It costs £4.50 to gain entrance to the field, but with that you get given a big paper bag and some scissors and you can take home as much lavender as the bag will hold. We went on a saturday and the place was incredibly busy, but even with all these people, it was still possible to find some quieter part of the field to explore.

Visiting Hitchin Lavender | BakingBetsy.com

Visiting Hitchin Lavender | BakingBetsy.com

Visiting Hitchin Lavender | BakingBetsy.com

Visiting Hitchin Lavender | BakingBetsy.com

For an attraction that’s basically just one field, the kids had a whale of a time. By the time we had walked to the top of the field, Betsy had asked if we could visit again and both Boo and Arthur loved to run along the lavender paths. Oh, and Betsy’s face when she turned around after climbing the hill and seeing just how high we were was a picture. It’s not a steep climb, but you do feel you’re pretty high up.

Visiting Hitchin Lavender | BakingBetsy.com

The place is full of bees as you would expect and we also spotted quite a few butterflies aswell. If you stood and listened, you could hear the drone created by hundreds of bees buzzing about. Quite amazing really.

Visiting Hitchin Lavender | BakingBetsy.com

There are benches at the top of the hill and we had a little sit down and we gave Arthur a run around. There’s a wheat field next to you which is quite a contrast to the usual purple, and later on in the summer, there’s a sunflower field to look at too.

Visiting Hitchin Lavender | BakingBetsy.com

So yes, just a field, but a beautiful one.

Visiting Hitchin Lavender | BakingBetsy.com

Visiting Hitchin Lavender | BakingBetsy.com

Visiting Hitchin Lavender | BakingBetsy.com

Visiting Hitchin Lavender | BakingBetsy.com

Visiting Hitchin Lavender | BakingBetsy.com

Visiting Hitchin Lavender | BakingBetsy.com

Visiting Hitchin Lavender | BakingBetsy.com

Hitchin Lavender is open up until the 13th September. It’s only really accessable by car, but there’s plenty of parking space. There’s also a gift shop and a cafe that sells some lovely cakes, including a delicious lavender flavoured cupcake.

Visiting Hitchin Lavender | BakingBetsy.com

Wray Castle

It’s been over two years since we visited Wray Castle in the Lake District, but as the summer holidays are coming up and lots of people visit Cumbria (including my sisters, I’m not jealous), I thought this could be useful. Besides, I took some pretty pictures I never shared, although some of them may be a bit out of date, but surely that’s just even more of an excuse to visit and see how things have changed?

Wray Castle is a mock-gothic castle that sits next to Lake Windermere. It’s so picture perfect it’s almost as if someone made it up for an Arthurian fantasy adventure. It was built in 1860 by a Liverpudlian surgeon using his wife’s inheritance from a gin fortune and has been a holiday home for Beatrix Potter, a naval communications training centre and is now owned by the National Trust. The Natural History Museum even used Wray Castle to house its exhibits during World War II. This isn’t your usual National Trust property and it is so family friendly. Every room is completely different to the other. There are some that are closer to the traditional NT property with period furniture and upholstery and others that totally surprise you, like the room that only contains a draughts board. You get to explore the entire house with no restrictions and it has a feel of a playground. We loved it.

The car park is tiny so the best, and most pleasurable, way to get to Wray is by taking a ferry from Ambleside. It’s always lovely travelling across Windermere, and the jetty where you get off is quiet and wooded and feels like nothing has been changed to this since it was built.

Visiting the National Trust's Wray Castle

Visiting the National Trust's Wray Castle

Then it’s about a ten minute walk to the house itself taking in some gorgeous views.

Visiting the National Trust's Wray Castle

Visiting the National Trust's Wray Castle

Visiting the National Trust's Wray Castle

The entrance hall is pretty special.

Visiting the National Trust's Wray Castle

Visiting the National Trust's Wray Castle

Visiting the National Trust's Wray Castle

And then there are all the rooms and corridors to explore.

Visiting the National Trust's Wray Castle

Visiting the National Trust's Wray Castle

Visiting the National Trust's Wray Castle

Visiting the National Trust's Wray Castle

Visiting the National Trust's Wray Castle

Visiting the National Trust's Wray Castle

Visiting the National Trust's Wray Castle

Visiting the National Trust's Wray Castle

The biggest hit of all was the room full of building blocks so you can build your own castle.

Visiting the National Trust's Wray Castle

Visiting the National Trust's Wray Castle

Visiting the National Trust's Wray Castle

I miss Cumbria so much and one day we’ll be back, and we’ll definitely be visiting Wray Castle again, it’s going to be really interesting to see how it’s changed and to see what Betsy really enjoys this time round.

Visiting the National Trust's Wray Castle

National Trust Wray Castle is open all year round and costs £9 for an adult and £4 for a child. The facilities are excellent – you need to check out the ladies loo on the 1st floor! It’s part of an old dressing room – and there’s a cafe there, but I don’t know what that’s like as we didn’t use it, also baby changing facilities. It’s brilliant.

Living Arrows #80

IMG_6279

Sometimes, if I’m super quick, I catch these two in a photo together where they’re both happy and Arthur isn’t walking away (because that’s what he does 99% of his time at the moment) or Betsy isn’t trying to drag him down onto the floor, wrestler style. Although I think she’s about to in this photo! This was taken at Hitchen Lavender fields, which was a lovely way to finish off a slightly odd week.

Living Arrows

Little Loves

Hello! I missed out on last week’s Little Loves and I really missed it! Such a fun linky to do. It’s been a funny old week, Arthur and I have been ill with a virus and Art is now on antibiotics for an ear infection. I’ve missed a couple of days of work to look after him and we’ve mostly been snuggled up on the sofa. He is much better now though!

Read
This post from Geoffrey and Grace about slow living. A good reminder I need to be more mindful and present during the day.

Watched
shaun-the-sheep-uk-poster
I hired The Shaun the Sheep Movie to entertain Betsy (oh, and me too) and it’s brilliant. It’s gag after gag. Love it, I’m going to have to buy a DVD of it, Betsy won’t stop talking about it. Also, I’ve just realised she’s not seen any Wallace & Gromit films! Need to change that!

Wore
Little Loves - What I wore
This is the outfit I wore when I took Betsy out to the South Bank last week, gold vintage top and Sainsbury’s circle skirt. It was a good outfit, honest! The waterproof is somewhat letting it down, I know. I need to work on my outfit pics…

Heard
Since watching Shaun the Sheep, and hearing this briefly in the soundtrack, I’ve not stopped listening to this. I swear before this week, I hadn’t head this song since I was a kid. SO GOOD.

Made
I got the sewing machine out and made a couple of cushions for my sisters’ birthday presents. I totally failed to take a picture of the finished things, but here’s the fabric I used, both from Ikea. They turned out okay and an envelope cushion cover is so easy to make, I think I know what I’ll be doing for Christmas presents now…

Little Loves - fabric love

And lastly…
I think someone at Enfield Town station is enjoying being part of the Overground and having this board to write on.
Little Loves - Enfield Overground sign

butwhymummywhy

Living Arrows #79

Living Arrows - visiting Jazzmatazz

So Betsy and I had whole day just to ourselves last week. I got last minute tickets to see Ali McGregor’s Jazzmatazz at London Wonderground and while Dave took care of Arthur, Boo and I hopped on a train to the South Bank. It’s SO nice travelling with Betsy, she’s at the age where she (mostly) sits still and can chat with me while sharing a hot drink together but she still gets a thrill from being on a train (as do I because I’m a big nerd).

Living Arrows - visiting Jazzmatazz

Once we were at Waterloo, we grabbed a sandwich and waited for the fun to start. We even managed to grab a balloon too which is always a massive bonus for a three year old.

Living Arrows - visiting Jazzmatazz

After an initial disappointment that Monski Mouse wasn’t going to be making an appearance (because we saw her poster and we were at the same venue), Betsy had a blast at the show. Jazzmatazz is a live jazz show with a (really good) three piece band who do all manner of swing songs, nursery rhymes and 90s and 00s hits. Ali McGregor
is more than just the lead singer though, she feels more of a host, chatting, making jokes and walking amongst the punters and getting everyone to join in. She has a great voice and I was quite happy just to sit and listen to the music while everyone else danced.

As we went on the last Monday before the school holidays started it was pretty quiet, I don’t think there were more than ten children in the room. Not particularly good for ticket sales, but perfect for Betsy who needs a bit of space before she can really let loose.

Living Arrows - visiting Jazzmatazz

Living Arrows - visiting Jazzmatazz

Living Arrows - visiting Jazzmatazz

Jazzmatazz isn’t on in London any more, but there are a few gigs happening during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. If you happen to be around, do check it out. It’s not very often you come across live music aimed at children, especially when it’s a genre other than pop, and everyone there, children and parents, had a ball. Totally wiped Betsy out too!

Living Arrows - visiting Jazzmatazz

Living Arrows

Cheery things

Cheery Things

1. Elodie dress by Toast
2. Fiestaval paperchains from Paperchase
3. Sad gingerbread man by Asking For Trouble on Folksy (there’s a happy, uneaten gingerbread man too!)
4. The most gorgeous enamelware from Mini Moderns. That orange saucepan! *swoon*
5. One for Dave this one: a Star Trek communicator on Firebox. It works by connecting to your mobile by bluetooth and you can make and recieve calls from it. MADE OF WIN.
6. More MADE OF WIN. A vintage rainbow skirt for an adult. I could have done with this for last week’s Faerie Festival. I’m also going to try and work out how to make that myself. It can’t be too hard, can it?

It’s been ages since I last did a Cheery Things so some of the links below are a bit old, but still awesome. Hope you had a good weekend everyone, enjoy the week ahead what ever it holds.

Growing herbs

I’ve mentioned it before, but Betsy is mad on planting seeds and growing them. We were in Ikea the other day and I noticed that their gardening things (with the exception of their lovely mini greenhouses, dangit) are on sale including their seeds. Turns out that the herb tubs are perfect for little fingers. They come in packets of three and include basil, parsley and mint seeds. It cost me a pound. Bargain!

Growing IKEA herbs - BakingBetsy.com

The tubs come with everything you need for growing. All you need is 300ml of water. The compost comes as one of those dehydrated blocks. Betsy loved pouring over the water and watching the soil expand and giving it a good stir.

Growing IKEA herbs - BakingBetsy.com

The way the seeds are packaged is pretty genius, rather than being loose in a fiddly packet, they’re embedded onto a paper disk so all Boo had to do was place the paper onto of the compost and sprinkle a bit more compost on top before covering with clingfilm and putting them on a windowsill. I wish all gardening was this easy!

Growing IKEA herbs - BakingBetsy.com

Growing IKEA herbs - BakingBetsy.com

Growing IKEA herbs - BakingBetsy.com

Since taking those photos a week or so ago, we already have quite a few seedlings and a very excited three year old! I’ll keep you updated.

Roasted peaches and cream

Is there anything more summery than peaches and cream? What’s that? strawberries and cream you say? Pfft, never! Peaches will always do it for me, I love their soft, slightly furry skin and when they’re fully ripe the sweetness and juiciness are perfection itself. They truly are fruit of the gods and goddesses.

An Eaton Mess with a twist - Roasted peaches and cream with chewy meringue. BakingBetsy.com

This is a super simple summer dessert to make. I’ve added some meringue to make this more of an Eaton mess, but it can be left out if you don’t fancy anything too sweet. Meringues are pretty easy to make by the way, the trick is to cook them on a low heat for a long time and you’re guaranteed that perfect crunchy on the outside, chewy in the middle texture. The recipe I use is adapted slightly from The Vintage Tea Party Book. It makes quite a lot, but don’t worry because you can freeze what you don’t use. You need:

  • 4 Egg whites
  • 225g Icing Sugar
  • 1tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat your oven to 120°C for a fan or 140°C for a conventional oven. Whisk up your egg whites until they’re at soft peak, then add your sugar and continue whisking until you can form stiff peaks. Add the extract and whisk for another minute.

An Eaton Mess with a twist - Roasted peaches and cream with chewy meringue. BakingBetsy.com

To get the swirly colour on the meringues, draw a few lines of food colouring (the gel works best) along the inside of a piping bag. Using a star nozzle, pipe out kisses or nests or anything you like (a pavlova base!) onto a non stick mat and bake for 40 minutes until the outside is crisp, but not brown. Idealy, you then need to switch off the oven and leave the oven door ajar and let the meringues cool down overnight to make them even chewier. I tend not to have the patience for that though!

An Eaton Mess with a twist - Roasted peaches and cream with chewy meringue. BakingBetsy.com

To roast the peaches, cut them in half and remove the stone (I used flat peaches that can be torn in half, even easier!), pop a little knob of butter on top with a tiny bit of rosemary and a drizzle of maple syrup and put into an oven at about 160°C for around 20 minutes.

An Eaton Mess with a twist - Roasted peaches and cream with chewy meringue. BakingBetsy.com

Put some meringue in a bowl along with the peaches and a massive dollop of whipped cream. Eat outside on a balmy summer’s evening. Lovely.

Living Arrows #78

Last Saturday was the annual Come Away With The Faeries festival that takes place locally. It’s such a brilliant day out, there are crafts laid out where you can make your own wands and crowns, bands to listen to, yoga and a host of other things. It’s quite a magical thing and something we make sure we don’t miss.

Living Arrows

We came upon this storyteller who told the story about all the animals on the African plains having a dance competition. For each animal, the teller would get a couple of children up to do the movements of an animal while everyone else danced along. Betsy and her friend Seren were snakes. I’m pretty surprised but so proud that Betsy went up and stood in front of all those people, it’s not her thing to do at all, but lovely to see and it’s just another thing to remind me that’s she’s growing up. I have no idea which animal won the competition, the monkeys were pretty competitive, but I missed the end because Arthur decided to go for a walk. Speaking of Arthur…

Living Arrows

He had a whale of a time at the festival. We got there early so he could wonder around and not be strapped into the buggy all day and loved being able to explore, he was a proper free range child that day. He especially loved this (slightly rickety) bridge to play on. He napped for over two hours afterwards, unheard of!

Living Arrows

Little loves

Hello little lovers! It’s been quite a good week, hasn’t it?

Read
Humans of New York is a most excellent blog, and if you have yet to have a look, I urge you to stop reading this rubbish and head on over there right now, it’s photographic portraits of people from all walks of life in New York. Some funny, some heart wrenching, some cute. This week, I have loved this guy and I cannot get this poor woman out of my head.

Watched
The Budget, but the less said about that, the better, frankly. I’ve also been watching this video of Arthur’s dinosaur walk lots, love his little moves.

Wore
Little Loves
Rocking the walking sandals this week to help me get through the tube strike. I walked a lot! Almost ten miles according to my Fitbit, which is quite impressive for me.

Heard
To get me through my walk from Moorgate to work and back again, I created a playlist to listen to. Lots of fast beats to keep me going (and Rosemary Clooney). Have a listen!

Made
I have made nothing this week! Isn’t that terrible? Even dinners have been a combination of beans and toast and other really simple things. I have a list of projects I need to start and finish by next weekend though, so there will be something next week.

And lastly…

We Are Scout Poster

A poster from We Are Scout. Something I really need to take to heart at the moment!

butwhymummywhy