Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Ham House at Halloween!

We have had one of those  fantastic half term days, busy and interesting!

This morning my little girl went to the Kids' Cookery School in Acton, with one of her lovely school friends.  They spent two and a half happy hours mixing and chopping and having great fun. She brought home this wonderful pie ( a homemade pastry top with  sausage, mushroom and sweetcorn filling) and pudding (an apple and spice muffin sponge).  She and I shared a really  delicious lunch. She was thrilled with her first cooking lesson, and is very keen to go again.

After walking the dog, we popped round to Ham House, where there is a selection of spooky Halloween activities for children.

First we took part in  a word search trail around the gardens.  Perfect for a little girl who had been cooking all morning as  she could run and skip with glee, and the clues took us all around the garden. (Fortunately there was only a very light drizzle, we didn't need to don raincoats or carry umbrellas!)

The Orangery looked suitably spooky, and there were very impressive piles of Ham House grown pumpkins in wheelbarrows and outside the shop.

Inside the House, there was face painting and ghostly story telling, as well as a craft activity in the basement.  The kitchen had yet more superb pumpkins.

We are lucky as this wonderful house is just around the corner from our home.  And as members of the National Trust we can just pop in for half an hour.

If you are in or near west London, and you have bored or fractious children (your own or visitors) this Halloween themed week at Ham House is well worth a visit.  Many children were in fancy dress, and all seemed to be having a ball.  The gardens are great to run about in, perfect for letting off some of that half term steam!

We followed the pumpkin trail

Clues were spread around the gardens

Some "witches hats"!

More clues

Locked away under the staircase!

What do we have here?


Aren't they fantastic?

The "spooky" orangery

More wonderful pumpkins

These are just near the shop

The story telling room

In the kitchen


Ham House

Sunday, 23 October 2011

A Touch of Halloween

My little girl is on half term, and is terribly excited about Halloween.  She's having four of her friends over on the 31st for a play date and lunch and she just  can't wait!

This week we are catching up with other friends who are not at her school,  as many of them only have a one week break, so we are going to be busy!

Today, in anticipation of the fun ahead, we made a 'haunted' gingerbread house.

We also put out some of the Halloween decorations I have accumulated over the years.  I have endeavoured to stick with tasteful things.  However, I  have sometimes made the mistake of shopping with a child!  So there are a few ghosts, haunted houses and grinning pumpkins that I may not have chosen had I been on my own!

Some very jolly ghosts

The conkers have been gathered on local walks

The Divali candle holder was made at school last year 

Madly, grinning pumpkins

Haunted houses

Here are those happy ghosts, again

The gingerbread house

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

A Wonderful Little Bag

I bought this sweet and very useful bag in the summer.  Diane, at Pilgrim and Pie, makes them.  I was looking at her blog, which features her gorgeous breton home, and she had posted a picture of these bags.  (if you click on the link, you will see her wonderful photographs of the bag!)

When I expressed an interest, she kindly investigated the cost of postage within Brittany.

Within a week, I was the delighted owner of the bag.

I have used it several times.  It is ideal for the family walks we go on.  It is very light, but well constructed.  I can carry my camera, purse and glasses, plus a treat for my little girl, and the various treasures she collects along the way.

I have also used it when I have been cycling, so much lighter then my regular handbags.

Thanks Diane, I am really enjoying using it, and will be watching out for more in the future.

Pretty bag

lovely heart details

The company name

beautiful stitches

lovely details

And it carries a lot!

Monday, 10 October 2011

A Sunday Morning Walk, Virginia Water.

Yesterday the sun was shining, and we decided to venture further afield.

I lived in Bracknell for several years when I was a  child, and one of our favourite family walks was around Virginia Water.  Yesterday I went back for the first time in over thirty years!  It was lovely, beautiful trees laden with chestnuts, imaginative sculpture in the woods, and the water  so tranquil and calm.

There were, however, far more people then I remember! But it was lovely to walk somewhere where dogs were allowed to run off the lead.  People were having a great time, walking, running and (mainly) chatting!

What a wonderful way to spend an autumn morning!

My photographs are not the best, as I spent most of my time rounding up our five year old girl and the dog.  Keeping tabs on them both was a (delightful) challenge!

A basket of chestnuts (I wish it were mine!)

There were so many glossy chestnuts, on the ground

And on the trees!

The dog, striding out,  purposefully!

A quaint wooden mushroom

And another!

I love this detail in the wood!

An ideal seat for a woodland imp!

Scrunchy leaves!

This would be more of a challenge to sit on!

A family of swans

A deep red tree trunk

A chestnut nestling 

Calm water

fungus on an old tree trunk

A bona fide fairy tale toadstool
(we checked it when we got home
Amanita muscaria, also known as fly agaric!)

Monday, 3 October 2011

An organised Foraging Walk

Yesterday as it was so very hot, we decided that rather then get stuck in traffic, with everyone else  fleeing the city  into the countryside, we would go on a local foraging walk.  I had seen it advertised the week previously in one of those free newspapers that pop through the door.

It was great fun, although most of the fruits have finished, so it was a case of you could find blackberries, rosehips, apples, pears, etc, if you'd come earlier!

The man  who led the walk was very knowledgeable, he not only knew about the local Flora and Fauna, he was also able to give a history of "Ham Lands" and told us about "bat walks" in June, I'm certainly going to attend those next summer.  I often see them flitting about, but had no idea there was so many in this area.

I was impressed with the number of people interested in foraging

The apples are nearly all gone

and the rosehips

The blackberry bushes are empty

But I did find a mushroom,
However, I'm not knowledgeable so decided to leave it in the ground.

Today as a special treat for me, Richmond have decided to dig up the pavements right outside my house, during the hottest October heatwave in over a hundred years!

I know I should be glad, it will be lovely to have a new pavement.  (Although I'm also sure a utility company is waiting around the corner to come and dig it up and ruin its' beauty.)

So now I have a choice of windows closed and being hot, or windows open and the house being full of dust!  I've gone for option one, with the added advantage of the noise not being quite so loud!

A lovely drill was used to break up the pavement and concrete!

I'm not sure how to cross the road!

And just to make sure I (or my neighbours) can't park too near our houses
we have a store of sand and cement right across the road from us!

Blinds down, windows closed

Electric fan whirring!

Rather selfishly, I  wish it could have been done over the summer, whilst I was away!