Posts filed under ‘Gloucestershire’

the best part of education

“Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, water bugs, tadpoles, frogs,
mud turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb.
Brooks to wade, water lilies, woodchucks, bats, bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, hayfields, pine-cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets;
and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of
the best part of education.”

– Luther Burbank

Crickley Hill_E on top of a fallen tree wearing DUNS willow top

I’m not sure I’d recognise a wood chuck if I saw one and I certainly wouldn’t willingly expose my children to snakes in the wild or hornets but using the outdoors as a classroom is certainly something we embrace.  We are lucky to have some fabulous areas of outstanding natural beauty in Gloucestershire and one of our favourites, Crickley Hill, is just 15 minutes away by car.

Crickley Hill - E butterfly trail wearing DUNS willow top
Whenever I take the boys up Crickley Hill I know it’s for my benefit as much as theirs to amble about the escarpment and meander through the woods.  The National Trust manage the site and last year joined forces with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to encourage more wildlife onto Crickley Hill.  All through the summer there were different nature trails on offer for young explorers and E enjoyed learning about different butterfly species as he raced around the escarpment.

Crickley Hill - the best part of education_family bimble

I spent a lot of time at Crickley Hill as a child so for someone who’s a bit inept when it comes to map reading it’s nice not having to give any mental energy to staying on the right track.  My internal sat nav at Crickley at least is finely tuned and I always know instinctively how to get back to the car park.  It’s lovely to think that this will become a special place for E and L not only for the family time we spend here but the adventures we have with friends exploring dens and climbing on fallen trees.

Crickley Hill_E and Fin copy 4B

I have a picture of 2 year old E emerging from a  den in the woods at Crickley on the picture shelf in his room.  It’s a only a simple A4 landscape size but I love it because it serves as a reminder to keep things simple when it comes to spending quality time with children.  They don’t need lots of input when taken to places that fire their imagination, just warm, attentive interaction.  The next time we visited Crickley Hill after taking this photo I felt sad to see this den had been dismantled where some other explorers had used the branches to fashion their own den elsewhere.  So this snapshot of E’s childhood adventures also serves to remind me that the joy is in the journey not the destination and the memories live on long after the creation has fallen apart.

10-4-14 - Crickley Hill_E outside den 4B

In case you’re wondering about baby L, he had a lovely time too.  I only carried him for the last 20 minutes of a 3 hour bimble when he ran out of steam.  He was a back-of-the-head blurr in the photos I snapped on my phone so here’s one of him receiving the best part of education from one of our cats.  Billy has been teaching him that gentle downward strokes on the head are rewarded with purrs and hammer-like bops with scratches!
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September 20, 2017 at 12:26 pm 1 comment

being a Gruffalo spotter

Gruffalo trail with mouse 4B copy
We’re lucky enough to live within 30 minutes drive of some of the most beautiful woodlands in the UK.  Yesterday we had a fabulous afternoon following the Gruffalo trail at Beechenhurst Lodge in the Forest of Dean with Nana and Grandad.  If you download the Gruffalo Spotters app to your phone you can point the app at special markers on the trail and watch the characters from The Gruffalo come to life!
(our app crashed on the final character, the Gruffalo, but we didn’t mind. It was such a lovely day out we’re excited about returning when G is free to join us).

March 27, 2017 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Supporting Wildfowl and Wetlands Centres


We visited Llanelli Wildfowl and Wetland Centre while holidaying in Wales this summer.  E loved feeding the birds and reading the information about them so much we decided to become members. Afterall we’re lucky enough to live 25 minutes drive from Slimbridge which was the first centre for conservation set up by Peter Scott, son of the Antarctic explorer Captain Scott, in 1946 (you can read more about that here)

Euan’s first visit to Slimbridge was on a  warm autumn weekend.  We spent the whole day immersed in feeding birds, searching for giant Lego animals, talking to Otters and playing in Welly Boot Land in the late afternoon sun.


For the rest of the week at school pick up E asked “can we go to the bird park again“. When we visited after school that Friday it was virtually deserted which made the job of finding the lego animals we’d missed first time round a lot easier.

Slimbridge is already a great day out but if they can fundraise £1.6 million they can release a Heritage Lottery Fund award of £4.4 million to further develop the site. We shall watch with excitement to see what that means for our little explorers…

November 25, 2016 at 12:07 pm Leave a comment

Rugby World Cup 2015 comes to Gloucester

rwc_hostcitysmallWhether you’re a rugby fan or not it would be hard not to notice that the Rugby World Cup 2015 has come to England and starts today (England v Fiji at Twickenham). It’s all very exciting here in Gloucester because our rugby ground in Kingsholm is hosting 4 matches, starting with Tonga v Georgia tomorrow.

It’s a real boost for our small city and it’s not just sports enthusiasts who will benefit when the World Cup kicks off. An official economic study into the impact of the tournament says it’s going to bring £48 million of economic activity into the city.

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As for us we’re just enjoying all the Rugby related hype and activities that have been taking place around the City over the last few weeks, most notably following the Scrumpty trail. Inspired by the legend of Humpty Dumpty artists from around the country created twenty 5 feet tall Scrumpty mascots.
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The trail can easily be completed in a couple of hours but it’s worth allowing a whole day to take in the historic sights you’ll discover along the way such as the Cathedral and the Docks. For little 3 year old legs I recommend plenty of pitstops with favourite snacks, a Daddy on hand for shoulder carries and a small toy for playing hide and seek in the cloisters garden at the Cathedral! (one of E’s favourite pastimes on any given day)
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September 18, 2015 at 9:33 am Leave a comment

making the most of our National Trust membership

We became National Trust members for the first time last year and renewed our membership this year by default when I didn’t notice the annual subscription was taken 3 weeks before it expired.  I’m too used to doing things at the eleventh hour it seems.  Don’t get me wrong, membership is well worth the cost, I waivered only because of the timing of the payment and probably would have let it lapse for a few months before rejoining presuming April showers might prevent us from getting out and about.  As it happens we’ve used our membership 5 times* already so I’m glad of the National Trusts’ presumptuous efficiency with membership renewals.
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The first of this year’s visits was to Westbury Court Garden, the only restored Dutch style water garden in the country and the nearest NT property to home.  I’ve driven past it hundreds of times over the years yet only been there once, a decade or more ago, with my Mum and Nan.  I recall my lovely, straight talking Nan being somewhat underwhelmed by the experience –  a reflection of her simple view on life [‘It’s just a garden‘] rather than a lack of appreciation for the hard work by staff and volunteers that goes into maintaining this beautiful, historic site.  E on the other hand was very effusive [”I love it here’‘] and especially liked feeding the fish in the canals, watching the water fountain and pointing to the plants growing in the 17th Century vegetable beds and asking what they were called.
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The array of tulips reminded me of my allotment neighbours Pat and Robin who always have smatterings of tulip flair dotted among their edible plants. I felt a little wistful for my lost allotment love and found myself thinking of my Nan momentarily. Just as quickly I was pulled back into the present by E calling ”Mum, come and find me, I’m going to hide in that little house’‘. Life moves on but a little bit of time stands still in beautiful tranquil places like Westbury Court Garden.  Hooray for The National Trust and the wonderful work they do to look after the sites we’ve grown to love visiting.  Places like these that offer grown ups an opportunity for quiet reflection while the kids run off to explore.
Mosaic _ NT visits April 2015
* return visits made to Woodchester Park, Croome Park, Newark Park and Woodchester Park and a first time visit to Snowshill Manor for the Easter Egg hunt.

June 7, 2015 at 9:46 pm 3 comments

Gloucester City Museum

City dwelling has its bright side and one of them is definitely Gloucester City Museum. Who’d have thought 2 small boys could while away 3 hours in one place.
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So much history, so much fun!

At bedtime we talk about E’s favourite part of the day and he names 3 good things that happened. On this day his number one good thing? ”Pressing the blue buttons to hear the Lady talk about the stones – it was a bit loud though!”
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April 13, 2015 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

going wild for garlic

Cranham woods with E 4BA walk in Cranham woods turned into a happy stumble* across patches of wild garlic when we went to explore this strange looking tree. Cranham woods with E - strange tree 4B Cranham woods with E - wild garlic 4B
What fun we had collecting sticks (no surprises there), nibbling on wild garlic leaves and eating our snacks to free up our Tupperware box for foraging. Cranham woods with E - stick man 4B Cranham woods with E - snack time 4B
Turns out a small snack box doesn’t hold much and it’s pretty slow going when you’re a forager clutching a stick collection! Cranham woods with E - forager 4B
To make our pesto style sauce I whizzed up our garlic leaves (17g), with 10g walnuts, 10g hard cheese, seasoning and 25ml rapeseed oil (different choice of ingredients but quantities based on those in Hedgerow (River Cottage Handbook, No.7)Wild garlic pesto collage 4B
It tastes so fresh and vibrant and it’s surprising how such a small amount goes a long way.  The equivalent of 5 teaspoons of pesto has stretched to jazzing up pasta, potato salad and adding some zing to soup. Wild garlic pesto - on pasta 4B
No prizes for guessing where we’ll be returning to soon!

*Literally a stumble when only a minute or two before E had learned that getting out of a tree is not always as easy as climbing in. No harm done and all in the name of independence! Cranham woods with E - climbing out of strange tree 4B

April 4, 2015 at 11:20 am Leave a comment

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Welcome to my once-about-gardening-and-cooking blog that is now mostly about our life in Gloucester with a boy, a baby and 3 cats.

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