Thursday, August 30, 2012

I'm not counting the hours...honestly!

It's funny, or is it, that, for the most part of the summer holidays the children are busy, busy, they have made so many plans for the things they want to do. They seem to get on brilliantly, they play together for hours. The final week, however, requires the patience of a saint and I know I'm not alone having spoken with most friends to discover they feel the same:

You want to poke your eyes with a stick rather than hear the youngest squeal in discontent (increasing in pitch and decibels by the day) and frustration at her siblings who get delight through their boredom, by teasing her;

You want to put balls of burning wax in your ears rather than being told how 'so and so is doing so and so to so and so'...for the umpteenth time so that you can't actually remember who committed the crime this time around - King Solomon I am not by the end of August;

You want to swim in shark infested water rather than fall over anymore shoes, coats, toys, Ipods, socks (dirty AND odd).

You would rather have lunch with a family of skunks than hear the word 'Muuuuuuuum' one more time followed by 'can I have...can I watch...can I eat, can I....'

Yet you love them to bits and you love the summer holidays with the last week - particularly when it's rained so much this summer and outside has become a bit of a distant memory!

They are ready for some time apart in the day. My fridge needs a rest...I really don't understand how they manage a 'whole morning' without a snack, on just a bowl of cereal and some toast, when they're at school, but at home it's three bowls at least, then they're, sorry...'staaaaaaaaaaarving' by 10am and my fridge gets whiplash not knowing whether it's open or shut, the Wednesday shopping all eaten by Thursday morning!

Of course, when the going gets just get more kids in...8 on Tuesday and 5 today *sigh* - it's meant to work apparently!

Still, in the few minutes where they do actually play together well (or ignore each other successfully) I have managed to pickle a whole load of surplus veg and make some yummy lemon curd.

We've seen lots of friends and celebrated fortieth birthdays, entered (and won) at the village flower show, had barbecues (dodging the rain) and been to the beach...well, okay, we saw the beach both times from a distance due to the rain.

Now as the new term begins and my new journey begins I think we're ready to see autumn move in to greet us, year, can we 'please' have a proper summer with some sun. That's all!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Summer time and the livin' is easy...

So the challenge is set to make sure that we use all the summer crops this year, however little or abundant they might be.
First up we have beetroot which has already found a regular place in our Sunday roasts. The remainder will be picked for roast lamb or hams later in the season.

Second up are the courgettes - we have had a magnificent bounty of courgettes this year. Again, we have eaten the small ones as we have gone along, but then we have also been treated to one or two large ones and several more small ones so I have pickled them too.

Peppers - now, these, strictly aren't from our garden but from our riverford box that we get. We seem to have received a lot, so I am using a recipe from the internet to try a pepper relish.

Lastly odds and sods. Amanda, from Soulemama, inspired me here as she obviously lives in the same world as I do and all planning of meals seems to make a rapid exit into the sunset during the summer. I too tend to have hungry mouths all asking me 'what's for dinner' from around 5pm onwards and it takes until then for me to even 'think' about the evening meal, so I am learning to be spontaneous and make a quick and easy meal with lack of planning, using what we have in the garden and in the store cupboard that day:
courgette, eggs, chard, pepper, onion....

Oh potatoes - of course - always LOTS of potatoes each night!

Omelette of course!

Our summer is flying by, we have done swimming lessons, been to our dear friend, Arthur's Christening, travelled overseas, played outside with water, played outside in the rain, been to the theatre in London, bickered, laughed, cried and laughed until we've cried and we still have much more to do. We have friends coming to stay, cousins coming to stay and grandparents to visit.

I love the summer time, despite the typical British weather!

How is your summer so far?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

We're back!

So, some words now to go with the pictures. We have returned from a week in Morocco. This is not our first time to an African country, but a first in an Arabic country and it was truly wonderful. We flew to Marrakesh and then took a car to Essaouira on the coast.

First we saw lights...and pots...and tagines....
Then we saw Argan cooperatives.

We stayed at an apartment that was within the city walls and within the streets where other Essaouirans lived rather than in a large hotel 1km away. We smelt the sewers, heard the kids playing football against our door at 10pm, heard the time screwed rooster at 2am...and 6am....and 10am (obviously catering for all tourists and not running on GMT!), ate the local food, walked back through the local streets.

We ambled through the spice markets - an explosion to the nose, eyes and ears.

How cool are these pyramids of ground spices?

We had henna tattoos on our hands and feet.

Bought hats from this amazing guy who puts my hat knitting to shame. Each day he churns out at least three or four! They were made from exquisitely soft wool too - none of this itchy, scratchy shite!  We managed to relieve him of a day's work and are now suitably attired for British winter dog walking and chicken minding.

Boys (and girls) found large artillery and felt the need to lie across it, or pose with the wind blowing scarves into pointy elf attire.

Then there were fantastic finds on the beach. This shell made it home with us...still stmelling rather fishy!

Watched camels getting the hump ;-)

Oh and no trip to Morocco would be complete without haggling for a carpet...or two. This is the lovely Abdullah who sold us a carpet...and another.....

By luring our kids in with kittens! Sigh!

And then there was the fish market. Essaouira is a fishing port and the hustle and bustle of afternoon life revolves around the sale of the day's catch. We should have been warned to wear wellies in order to not slip in the fish heads and guts that were thrown down for the plethora of stray cats that were resident both in the town and the port. LMB was horrified with the treatment of some of the animals and the quantity of cats, kittens and puppies that were roaming without owners. i think she'll be back to open an animal sanctuary there one day!

The calls to prayer five times a day. We were there during Ramadam so we were also witness to the siren sound to end and begin the fast each day.

We waited for the sun to set....

and waited....

and waited some more....

and posed whilst we waited....

Then we got it!

Footprints in the sand...

and handstands.

Brotherly conversations....

and football games.

A meal at a Berber home begins with washing the hands outside the house.

Then removing the shoes before entering. We were then treated to bread with argan oil, honey and a paste made from argan oil, the ground nut and honey - tasted rather like almond butter - very more-ish.