Tag Archives: Devon

15/52

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“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2016.”

I will never get tired of being able to just pop to the beach on our way home from whatever else it is we’re doing. And I love that this one thinks it is entirely normal: sand in his toes and the sea stretched out behind him, his world an ocean of possibilities just waiting to be explored.

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity for The 52 Project. 

9/52

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“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2016.”

There are times when not driving really does have its advantages. Take last Friday for example.

Once I’d got past the trauma of having of leave the house within half an hour (ish) of Arthur waking up, the rest of our hour and a half long journey across the bay to gymnastics was pretty close to perfect.

I wore him for the walk into town – his little legs just wouldn’t have been able to keep up the pace – and as he snuggled into my back he chatted away, telling me about all of the things in the world he was worried I might be missing. When we got on the bus he was excited at first – especially when we got the best seats.

And then he just settled in for the ride. We sat, side by side, and admired the view, nothing in particular to do, our journey taking care of itself whilst we savoured the time it gave us.

It might take longer getting to places without a car, but I hope that when I do eventually learn to drive I don’t lose that wonder at the journey in my pursuit of the destination.

A lesson for life, really. And one that Arthur has got the hang of very nicely.

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity for The 52 Project. 

7/52

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“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2016.”

We don’t get much snow down here in Devon, so when I woke up on Sunday morning to pictures of Dartmoor blanketed in white on my Facebook feed I knew we were going to have to go on a bit of a mission.

It takes about an hour to drive there from where we are on the South coast, but every time we do we tell ourselves we really should do it more often. And this time was no different.

We were not the only people whose minds had been captivated by the romance of some Valentine’s day snow: in fact we were beginning to think, as we wove our way up onto the moors behind lines of traffic through decidedly unsnowy scenery, that maybe it wasn’t such a great plan after all.

But then we turned a corner and up ahead of us we saw higher ground. Higher ground with an unmistakeable icing sugar coating, which became more convincingly wintery the further up we ventured.

Ok so it wasn’t Iceland. The ground was wet and muddy in between the patches of snow. And there were an awful lot of other cars. But this being the moors we found our own expanse of ground within minutes of parking up, and Arthur couldn’t care less that it was less than perfect. It was snow!

I got pelted with this snowball seconds after this photo was taken, but it was most definitely worth it.

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity for The 52 Project. 

Summer is here!

I’ve decided I’m calling it.

Admittedly it’s early days: as I’ve been writing this post the tapping of my fingers on the keyboard has been accompanied by the rain spattering the window panes. White horses skitter across the bay, and the leaves in the trees are being buffeted by a wind too strong to be called a breeze. But that’s just part and parcel of the season here in Devon.

And looking at the week in balance there is no doubt in my mind that we have crossed the boundary into summer.

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It’s half term of course, so the streets of Brixham are filled with holidaymakers. Dangling lines over the harbour wall to tempt crabs into their buckets, clutching ice creams which drip deliciously over little fingers.

On Breakwater beach paddlers are venturing deeper and deeper into the sea, delightedly splashing in the icy water and sometimes taking the plunge and diving in for a swim.

It’s that for me that marks the transition into summer most clearly. I am still a fair-weather swimmer. I aspire to being one of the hardy souls who takes to the sea all year round, but I’m not there yet. This week, though, I made it in.

We’d managed to tire the toddlers out with stone-throwing, and leaving them dozing under the watchful eye of friends we headed for the water.

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And it was glorious!

Pretty feckin’ freezing, obviously. We’d hoped to have a dip in Shoalstone pool, which whilst it wouldn’t have been warmer would have at least given the option of jumping or diving in. But pump problems combined with excessively low tides put paid to that, so we scrambled over the rocks instead. Feeling my way through the shallows I almost gave up, but my stubbornness took over and saw me through till that all-important moment when numbness takes away the worst of the cold and you can just concentrate on how wonderful it is, floating in the salty sea looking back at the shore, cobwebs of all varieties well and truly blown away.

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We’d hoped to have another dip yesterday, but the sun wasn’t shining quite so brightly. It didn’t deter Arthur from paddling up to his waist – I think swimming kit is going to be an essential part of the arsenal when we head to the beach from here on in!

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The clouds cleared as the afternoon went on, and the beach was still busy when I walked back from my council meeting at 9 o’clock last night.

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So yes, I’m calling it: summer is here.

Stay tuned for more watery adventures over the weeks and months to come!

My word of the week is summer.

The Reading Residence

Five signs that spring has (almost) sprung

Alongside everything I have been doing this week – creeping ever closer to a completed third draft of my novel, keeping up with Arthur’s ever-expanding social calendar, and supporting Leigh through another wave of deadlines – there has been the faint bubble of anticipation. The sense that, after weeks and months of the dark and the cold of winter, spring might finally, actually, be just around the corner.

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Arthur and I were at my parents’ place last weekend. Although they’re less than an hour away, and still on the sea (well, the estuary anyway), the environment there feels very different. They are surrounded by countryside, and there is no escaping the shifting seasons. So it was there I noticed spring first. It took me almost by surprise, but it has not disappeared since we returned to Brixham.

Flowers

Arthur has learnt the words for primrose, snowdrop and daffodil this week. He sought out the little patches of colour as we traversed the woodland, and I couldn’t help but notice the shoots beginning to seep from winter branches. Back home we saw that our own daffodils had finally burst out from their buds, trumpeting the promise of warmer, lighter days to anyone who cared to listen.

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Eggs

For the past few months my parents’ chickens have refused to lay. The flock was expanded at the end of last year, and ever since their nest has remained empty. In the past few weeks they have seemed to call an end to their strike. Looking at the beautiful eggs they are now producing in abundance it seemed way too coincidental to have nothing to do with the coming of spring: and on doing a little research I discovered that sure enough, the longer days have much to do with the chickens’ willingness to release their eggs into the world.

We travelled home on Monday with a collection of them, almost too lovely to eat.

I am pleased to report that they were delicious.

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Weather

One thing that spring can be guaranteed to bring is crazy weather, and this week has most definitely not disappointed on that front. On Tuesday, we were woken up by a hailstorm at three am – it was so insanely loud I thought for a while it might dislodge the slate on the roof. A few hours later, we woke again to pink skies reflecting off the sheen of an almost perfectly still bay, the only sound being the squark of seagulls and the distant drone of fishing boats heading out to sea.

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A text came through from a friend as I was getting Arthur organised to head out to his drama class, saying that we should make the most of the glorious day. Just as I was sending my agreement, the rain rolled in. Yet by the time we were ready to leave it was beautiful once again. Dark clouds gathered before the day was done.

The weather this week has most definitely been unpredictable, but not entirely unpleasant.

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Warmth

In the moments when the sun has come out, there has been no denying this week that it is starting to get warmer. There have been points when I’ve almost been able to taste those delicious summer days, children laughing as they play for hours in the great outdoors, parents watching over them whilst basking in the rays themselves,

We had music today at Lupton House, followed by the precious coffee and catch-up I’ve come to so look forward to. Afterwards us mums stood and chatted as the children played, tentatively exclaiming our delight at the warmth which filled the air.

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Hope

This is perhaps the least tangible of the signs that spring is on its way, but it’s no less important for that. I cope with winter better than I used to, but still during the past few weeks I’ve felt a little like I’ve been wading through treacle just to manage the tasks which make up the day to day.

But this week that sense of drudgery has been replaced with hope, with the anticipation of spring rolling into summer, of leaving the house without a coat and returning in the evening whilst it is still light.

I suppose deep down I love the seasons, all of them, for the contrasts they bring. But I cannot deny that I have my favourites, and spring is most certainly one of them.

My word of the week this week is spring.

The Reading Residence
mumturnedmom
Mums' Days

Adventures on the South Devon Railway

Last weekend we finally took a trip on the South Devon Railway. I’m not sure why we haven’t done it before actually, what with Arthur’s general train obsession, but we’re a bit spoilt for choice down here when it comes to steam trains. We’ve been on the Kingswear-Paignton line lots, but having had a peek at the goings on at Totnes station when we visited the Rare  Breeds Farm we were definitely keen to come back for a proper visit.

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The excitement started building even before we got to the station – Arthur heard a train whistle in the background and suddenly realised where we were going. Once he saw the train tracks he really couldn’t contain himself, bouncing up and down in the sling as the train came in.

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We found ourselves a compartment – naturally gloriously vintage – and settled down for the journey to Buckfastleigh. It wasn’t only Arthur who was excited – there’s something so magical about being transported by steam, and the beautiful countryside views just added to that.

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It was brilliant to spend some quality time as a family. Leigh’s been working super hard recently, and Arthur really misses his Daddy when he’s not around. I do, too.

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As we pulled into Buckfastleigh station, it was clear there was going to be lots to explore there. There were so many different types of trains – Arthur was in his element trying to match them all up with his favourites from Thomas the Tank Engine.

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He loved the little museum too: pretending to be an engine driver, and finding some actual Thomas trains to play with.

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There was even a fantastic garden model railway, being tended my some older railway enthusiasts. I think Arthur would have happily watched the trains going round until it had got dark if we’d let him.

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But we did have to get back, so we made our way to the platform to find a train big enough to carry us.

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The light was beginning to fade as we journeyed back along the river, but somehow that only made the whole scene more beautiful.

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When we arrived back at Totnes there was one more treat in store. The Rare Breeds Farm is currently closed for the season, but an owl had come out to say hello to people at the station. He was incredibly tame and friendly. Arthur was able to stroke him and give him a cuddle, and when he waved goodbye the owl flapped his wings in return.

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Suffice to say when we headed back to the car it was with one very happy little boy. All in all it was a fantastic family afternoon – we can’t wait until our next trip on this very special railway.

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

A breath of fresh air and friendship

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We haven’t got out enough so far this year. There have been plenty of reasons why: the weather’s been pretty pants, sniffly colds have never been very far away, and on top of that there is of course the small matter of a novel that needs editing…

So when this week we had friends to visit and the sun came out to greet them we breathed a sigh of relief and headed out into the fresh air.

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There’s nothing quite like hanging out with old friends to rejuvenate the soul. Emily and I were partners in crime when we were sixteen, and I feel so lucky to still have her in my life twenty years later.

She is about to embark on an uber exciting house-building project with her family, so they began their stay at my folks’ place to get some inspiration from the major renovation they’ve just completed. Whilst we were there we made the most of the beautiful countryside: feeding the chickens, seeking out snowdrops, and exploring the deep dark woods.

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Arthur spent a while at one particular tree, scratching away with a stick. I asked what he was doing and he said ‘writing’ (silly). When I asked what he was writing he said ‘the story of mummy and daddy’. Nothing like the great outdoors for a bit of inspiration.

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After twenty four hours in the beautiful South Hams we headed back to Brixham. There had been much talk of penguins, so there was nothing for it really but to head for Living Coasts. We finally got to try out the new year-round ferry, and spent a day in beautiful sunshine in Torquay.

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We had a bit of a stroll (and the obligatory fish and chips) and then headed to our awesome coastal zoo. The toddlers were in their element here, and it was so lovely to watch them explore and bond.

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On their last day we stayed closer to home. It was properly freezing, but we made it to Breakwater beach for some bracing pebble throwing.

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Though our friends were only here for three days, I feel like we’ve crammed at least a month’s worth of adventures into that time. And on top of that I’ve been reminded how lucky we are to live where we do: we will most definitely be getting out more in February, whatever else the world throws at us.

 

My word of the week this week is friendship.

The Reading Residence

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall