Living Arrows #107

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. – Khalil Gibran

Living Arrows

Living Arrows

We have all been ill this week, a nasty little vomiting bug that got Betsy first, then Arthur and then me and Dave by the end of the week, not fun at all. Poor old Art had it the worst, being ill for twice as long as anyone else. (I have to admit to rather selfishly liking the poorly cuddles I get though, Arthur on Wednesday night was so curled up on my chest it brought me back to the newborn days and it was so lovely)

Luckily we are all recovered and were well enough to celebrate Dave’s birthday, having a nice lunch out and visiting Whipsnade. No chance in being able to bake a birthday cake, so Dave has had to settle with a Colin the Caterpillar, which I don’t think anyone minded, really.

Living Arrows

January photos

At the end of last year I mentioned that I wasn’t planning on doing Project 365 again. That is, take a photo every day for a year. Well, an interesting thing happened. Photos were taken on the first and second of the month (I can’t not take pictures of Arthur in the bath and on a walk) but then I didn’t take anything for a few days after that. Interestingly, I found myself missing taking a photo a day and once I did pick up the camera up again I found myself thinking “well that’s my shot for the day” once I snapped. Old habits die hard, it seems!

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15/01

So I’ve decided to commit to a photo a day again because it seems I can’t leave it. It’s going to be no pressure and if there are days when I don’t pick up the camera then no worries. This year I am following Fat Mum Slim’s photo a day prompts, where there is one word or short phrase a day to use as a starting point (like me, night, or something blue) which has been working out really well for me, especially on a day when I’m at work. Although if I decide to not use a prompt, again, no worries, it’s just nice to have a photo for that day. I’m posting most of the photos onto Instagram as I’m loving the FMS community there, so come over and say hello!

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The nights are getting lighter when I leave for work, hooray! 13/01

Hopefully every month I’ll do a round-up of some of my favourite photos from this project. Here’s a few photos from the last month along with the Fat Mum Slim prompt (if applicable, I didn’t start using the prompt until the 19th):

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Granary Square during the Lumiere festival. 14/01

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18/01

Ian looks out
Ian looks out. 24/01 FMS prompt: Window

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Morning sky 26/01 FMS prompt: Simplicity

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I am so easily pleased, but I LOVE my new phone cover. 27/01 FMS prompt: Telephone

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The last of the Christmas cake. 30/01 FMS prompt: Flat lay

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31/01 FMS prompt: Me. So I have been taken part on Ali Edwards’ One Little Word course to help me with my word for this year, courage (I need all the help I can get!). I don’t know how much of this journalling I’ll reveal on here as it gets *really* personal sometimes, but there might be the odd glimpse like this from time to time. I am loving the course so far though!

Bring on February!

Living Arrows #106

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. – Khalil Gibran

Living Arrows

Living Arrows

A quiet week, just plodding along. Seeing friends and drinking coffee. Nicey nice.

Wassaliling our apple tree + garden update

The traditional folk custom of wassailing fruit trees – a ceremony intended to begin the process of waking the fruit trees from their winter slumber and the first fertility festival of the folk calendar.
Whitedragon.org.uk

Wassailing the apple tree

Wassailing is a very old practice found in rural areas, namely places that tend to have a lot of orchards, like Somerset and Herefordshire. Our local orchard in Forty Hall do a wassailing ceremony every year, but so far we have missed it every time (this year we were galavanting around Canary Warf), next year we’ll make it! Instead I thought we could wake up our little apple tree in our garden.

The ceremony involves making noise by singing and using what instruments we had and (gently) hitting the trunk and branches to wake the tree up from its winter slumber (although it’s been so mild this year the tree was probably only dozing). Unsurprisingly the kids rather got into this a lot, Betsy was really fascinated about the waking up part, and was only a little disappointed that the tree didn’t blossom right then and there.

Wassailing the apple tree

Wassailing the apple tree

Traditionally you also give the tree a drink (and you have one for yourself too) of cider or ale, but we went for a spiced hot apple juice. Bread is normally left in the branches as an offering too, but as I’m a right old grump about feeding birds bread, we left out a few fat balls instead. I’m not sure if we will keep feeding the birds after this, I know you are supposed to, especially once spring arrives, but every time we have, I find myself just getting very annoyed with all the squirrels helping themselves to the food. Last time we left food out I caught a rat having a feed! However, it’s the RSPB’s annual Birdwatch this Saturday coming so we will make sure there’s some food out for that for sure while we do some spotting.

That’s if we see any birds! There has been some building work to the house behind our garden and since then they have all disappeared somewhat. Still plenty of birds to look at on the roofs of our neighbours (magpies and crows mainly, although we had the pleasure of seeing a heron over the weekend), but I haven’t really seen any small birds. We used to get a ton of great tits and blue and there was a little wren that used to pop by too. Super important to do the RSPB spot this weekend if only to see if the small birds have been frightened away or if I’ve just been terribly unobservant.

Anyway, as we’re in my garden, fancy having a look to see how things are going? This is what the garden looked like a couple of summers back:

Wassailing the apple tree

So this building work that’s been going on. iT has been rather disruptive for us and since it started, we haven’t really been in the garden much. The house behind us got sold at the beginning of last summer, a property developer bought it and is currently making the house MASSIVE. We did have this lovely old wall full of character and ivy that backed onto our neighbour’s garden, but that’s gone, demolished to make way for the big extension, and now this is what you see as soon as you see the garden:

Wassailing the apple tree

Ugh.

Ok, that’s slightly unfair, this is what I see:

Wassailing the apple tree

UGH.

It’s still not great, is it? Although as my dad keeps telling me, at least the wall is a nice colour. How optimistic! We do get a lot of sun on that part of the garden in the summer so that wall will keep a lot of heat in for us, I’m rather looking forward to long summer evenings there especially once the ivy starts to grow over it again (and there’s a bit clump in the left hand corner of our garden so it’s only a matter of time). I have also bought a gorgeous looking clementis to grow up there too so I don’t think it will be too long before the wall settles in. I am also planning on getting a bird box to put on the wall too, as well as a Green Man face I’ve had for ages.

I want to dig that bed right at the back next to the wall up. It’s not a proper bed, there are paving stones underneath and it’s why I’ve not had much success growing veg there. It would be good to get a proper bed made, maybe have some sleepers around it so it’s still raised. Does anyone out there want to give me a hand with some manual labour?

The rest of the garden is looking tired. It needs a jolly good tidy up and a weed. Still it’s nice to see that there are some flowers around and the rhubarb is doing really well!

Wassailing the apple tree

Wassailing the apple tree

Wassailing the apple tree

Wassailing the apple tree

Wassailing the apple tree

Wassailing the apple tree

Wassailing the apple tree

Hopefully next garden update you’ll see a bit more work done.

Living Arrows #105

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. – Khalil Gibran

Living Arrows

This week we have mostly been cats. I blame watching Cbeebies Meet The Kittens. Betsy is desperate for a kitten of her own. She keeps asking when we can get one. I’d be happy getting one now, and Ian would be too as along as we got a female, it’s Dave we have to persuade! He’s not keen. Until we get a real kitten, Betsy has been pretending she has some by using all the soft toy cats that she has and transporting them around in Ian’s actual carry case. This has been freaking Ian put a little as he thinks he’s going to the vets every time he sees it!
Betsy has also been insisting she has a cat nose and whiskers painted onto her face. Arthur watched me paint with great interest and insisted he have it too.

Living Arrows

Winter Lights at Canary Warf

Dave was away last weekend so the kids decided they wanted a bit of an adventure. Nothing says adventure more to them at the moment than a ride on the Magic Train. The Magic Train as we all know is the DLR. They LOVE being able to sit right at the front of the train and wonder how the train is going all by itself.

We got off at Canary Warf, with the idea of being somewhere fairly quiet during the weekend, and to see some of the Winter Lights exhibition. Um, it wasn’t very quiet! I naively thought that without all the workers there it wouldn’t be very populated at all, but the shopping centre was packed, as was Jubilee Gardens and Reuters Square. There were pockets space though and in places felt like an urban playground. There is so much to explore, and so much of it away from roads and on little footpaths or underground tunnels.

Around Canary Warf

Around Canary Warf

We caught a couple of pieces from Winter Lights. Most notably Tom Wilkinson’s Light Sphere I, a ball of light that really caught the kids attention.

Around Canary Warf

Around Canary Warf

But it was Aura that really caught everyone’s imagination. Anything that’s interactive is immediately more accessible to children and to have a light bulb that you can control to make sounds and lights left them in wonder.

Around Canary Warf

We also had a look at some of the works in Jubilee Gardens too.

Around Canary Warf

Around Canary Warf

Around Canary Warf

Around Canary Warf

Absolute highlight on this very cold evening was the roof garden at the top of the Crossrail station. The whole building has been designed by Norman Foster, which you can tell once you spot the lattice-shaped ceiling.

Around Canary Warf

Around Canary Warf

Around Canary Warf

It’s a beautiful public space and I really want to come back in daylight hours to take it all in. There are plenty of places to sit and there are loos (so important to know when you have kids!) and I think this is the best place to have a picnic. The roof is only partially covered though, to allow rain onto the plants, so it’s bloody freezing at the moment, but I think it will be glorious in the summer.

Around Canary Warf

Around Canary Warf

And then, it was back onto the DLR for our journey home, which pleased Art and Betsy no end.

Living Arrows #104

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. – Khalil Gibran

Living Arrows | BakingBetsy

Hope you all had a good week? We’ve been great, lots of things happening, which is nice. This picture of Arthur while we were taking a train home this weekend. There’s not a lot to say about this photo apart from THAT FACE. Love his expressions. Also, get a hair cut, hippy! (I don’t really want to get his hair cut, but it could do with a tidy, couldn’t it?)

Living Arrows | BakingBetsy

Betsy taking a quick break while we were exploring Canary Warf. Not surprising really as she’d been walking for miles, and it was a lovely place to rest (if freezing).

Lucky, lucky us (a trip to London Zoo)

A trip to LondonZoo | BakingBetsy

We took a little trip to London Zoo earlier this week, somewhere we don’t really go to as we tend to visit the more rural Whipsnade with their wild maras and peacocks (and soft play). But Betsy asked for an Adventure (this was definitely an adventure with a capital A) so London Zoo it was. But how was it lucky? Only in the little things, but it’s the little things that make the day isn’t it. Also most of the things weren’t technically luckily, more fortunate, or quite nice, but Betsy and I found ourselves repeating “lucky, lucky me” like Lola does in an episode of Charlie and Lola for most of the day.

We started off at arriving on the platform with one and a half minutes to spare for our train (without checking the timetable beforehand). We also managed to grab a coffee and a drink for Boo in that time and lovely Gunter from the platform cafe pushed Arthur and the buggy onto the train while Betsy and I clambered on with our drinks and we managed to get our most favourite seats. Lucky, lucky us!

Then Betsy found a fallen £1 coin next to the till while I was buying our sandwiches. Lucky, lucky her!

Then I thought we had missed our bus and would have to wait for another 15 minutes or so, but then another turned up then and there! Lucky, lucky us!

A trip to LondonZoo | BakingBetsy

Once at the zoo, Betsy decided she wanted to see snakes first. I was kind of surprised about this as she’s not really shown any interest in reptiles before, but the reptile house is warm inside so I was happy to follow her. While in there we caught a cobra being quite active and looking right at us. Brilliant because I could tell Betsy all about snakes using their tongues to smell and she got to see that in action and I think every time I’ve been in the reptile house before all the snakes have been asleep. Lucky us!

A trip to LondonZoo | BakingBetsy

A trip to LondonZoo | BakingBetsy

Afterwards, we wondered over to the tigers and we stood centimeters from them. It’s not really lucky as that’s the most sheltered place in the enclosure for the tigers to lie in, but it’s still a privilege to be so close to them like that. Plus (luckily) a nice lady came up to us and started to tell Betsy all about the tigers. I’ve forgotten their names, but they are a mother and baby. The mother, on the right hand side is seven years old, and the baby, left, is two.

A trip to LondonZoo | BakingBetsy

A trip to LondonZoo | BakingBetsy

Close to the tigers and camels is the children’s zoo. There are farm animals here as well as aardvarks, porcupines and meerkats (who have a brilliant tunnel you can crawl through) and a really good play area. While we were saying hello to a couple of pigs, a keeper asked Betsy if she’d like to feed the llamas and alpacas. Lucky, lucky her!

A trip to LondonZoo | BakingBetsy

A trip to LondonZoo | BakingBetsy

A trip to LondonZoo | BakingBetsy

A trip to LondonZoo | BakingBetsy

A trip to LondonZoo | BakingBetsy

A trip to LondonZoo | BakingBetsy

A trip to LondonZoo | BakingBetsy

A trip to LondonZoo | BakingBetsy

We decided to start heading home after a spot of lunch, we were all frozen and I was keen to get home before the rush hour, but while walking to the exit, I caught Betsy and Arthur holding hands, chatting away and all in their own little world for the first time. Lucky, lucky me.

A trip to LondonZoo | BakingBetsy

Living Arrows #103

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.– Khalil Gibran

It’s been an interesting week this week. Dave started his new job which mostly sounds brilliant (he’s in the City now. You can tell because the company have ping pong and fussball in the kitchen along with free soft drinks and fruit for the staff. And a fridge full of beer!), Arthur’s had a virus so I missed my first day back from work, I went back to work, our kitchen ceiling fell in and we still have some Christmas decorations up. A mixed bag then, so it’s a mixed bag of photos this week:

Living Arrows

Waiting for Dave at the train station after his first day.

Living Arrows

Running free.

Living Arrows

Eating a lemon. Every time Arthur took a bite, he’d make this face that everyone makes eating lemons but would go in for more, he loved it! Crazy guy.

The great new year’s walk

It’s become somewhat of a tradition to have a walk around Trent Park on new year’s day. We had a friend on the 1st so made our way to Trent Park on the Saturday, braving the wind and the rain.

Trent Park in the winter

Arthur led the way, which he LOVED. Most times when we’re out he’s either strapped to my back or is in the buggy, but this time he just walked, and walked. I think he rather enjoyed his freedom and he took us to a part of the park we’d never been through before. I love Trent Park. It has so much to give and is a real bit of the countryside to explore, there is plenty of woodland and I don’t think I’ll ever get bored with visiting there especially on a day like today where the weather keeps everyone at home and we meet not another soul.

Trent Park in the winter

It was really muddy and wet, but quiet and we’d occasionally spot a blue tit or robin hopping along near us. I think they were quite grateful there weren’t so many dog walkers around today.

Trent Park in the winter

Trent Park in the winter

Trent Park in the winter

We also came across a large bivouac (we assume it got made by Scouts) that provided a bit of fun exploring.

Trent Park in the winter

For me it’s good to see spots of green amongst the bare branches in winter, no early signs of spring yet, but the holly dotted around looked lush and quite a lot of fern looked green too.

Trent Park in the winter

Trent Park in the winter

Trent Park in the winter

Trent Park in the winter

Trent Park in the winter

Trent Park in the winter

Trent Park in the winter

It got pretty dark by the end of the walk, but I think even though we were all a bit muddy and damp (Arthur particularly got soaked) we could have gone on longer if it wasn’t super close to the park’s closing time. Although walking in the rain was good, it would be nice to go on a drier day and have a bit of a picnic, you can’t beat a flask of coffee on a cold day under trees, can you?

Trent Park in the winter