Pumpkins designed, re-designed and carved. Cauldron filled with treats, fancy dress laid out on the bed. Rosemary picked, chickens fed. Apples ready to put out at bedtime….. done

Still to do- that rosemary needs to find its way into remembrance biscuits. I just use a simple biscuit recipe and add in some chopped rosemary. We eat a few after our tea and put the rest out with a candle and an apple at bedtime.

The inside of those pumpkins needs to find its way into “Monster Mash” (pumpkin, sweet potato and potato mash) and pumpkin pie for dessert.

The children need to don their outfits and brave the weather to go trick or treating… no broomsticks tonight, it’s too blustery and they have not got a full licence….

They will return as they always do, cold, wet and enormously excited, interrupting each other with all their tales of trick or treating.

When they get back we switch off all the lights and have our tea by candlelight.. the lights don’t go back on until the morning. They put out the biscuits and their apple and go up to bed by candlelight, taking their pumpkins to bed with them (we use the battery operated lights inside once they go upstairs) to act as night lights.

So, coffee drunk and pause enjoyed, I’d best get that pumpkin in the oven then.


27 Ideas for Half term

1. Bake with apples (pie, crumble,baked apples with raisins)

2. Do some leaf or tree rubbings. Or make some hammer leaf prints.

3. Leaf print wrapping paper (using paints and brown parcel paper)

4. Use the inside of the pumpkin you carved out (roasted pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie….) and donate the seeds to someone’s chickens

5. Drink some hot chocolate in the woods

6. Plant some spring bulbs

7. Enjoy toasting marshmallows on a fire

8. Go conker hunting

9. Go Geo-caching (visit www.geocaching.com for more information)

10. Build something out of junk

11. Build a den (inside or outside or both!)

12. Plant an acorn, or a conker

13. Jump in some puddles

14. Kick up some leaves or make a pile and jump in them!

15. Try and catch a leaf as it falls from the tree

16. Make some Halloween decorations

17. Go trick or treating ( or dress up to answer the door to trick or treaters)

18. Have a Halloween themed tea by candle-light

19. Visit the library

20. Visit a new park

21. feed the ducks (porridge oats are better for them)

22. Bake your Christmas cake

23. Play catch/ keepy-uppy/volley ball with a balloon

24. Play vets using stuffed animals

25.Play the memory  game (10 things on a tray, one is removed you must work out which)

26. Draw a chalk road for your cars to drive on around the backyard

27.An indoor obstacle course to travel round whilst balancing a ball on a spoon.

A bit of the outside, in

The term “Nature Table” conjures up happy memories of my childhood. The table at the back of the classroom displaying seasonal offerings; books stood up on open pages of significance; bits collected by the teacher, treasures brought in by the children. I did love that table:  the best table in the classroom.

Sadly, it seems that the nature table has fallen out of favour. But a little bit of outside, in is surely a good thing, no? We like to think so. Owing to our present situation the Nature Table has moved into the Living room and I have to say I’m rather fond of its new location. Maybe we’ll have two? Who knows.

A Nature Table can take many forms, a bowl , a shelf, a windowsill, wherever. Fill it with whatever catches your eye when you’re out and about and change it as you feel it needs it.  I will promise you this much, however much space you start with, you’ll fill it and extend it before you know it!

Autumn leaves forever

Who can resist a drift of Autumn leaves, they just scream “Play with me!!!”.

I do not recall ever having walked through leaves with anyone of any age without hearing the scccrrhh, scccrrhh, of dragging feet begin within a few steps of finding yourself ankle-deep in a medley of reds and yellow. Autumn’s great plaything, leaves. Get them whilst they’re going….

Last Autumn, we collected leaves of different shapes and sizes and laminated them. Then, using double-sided tape we stuck them to the dining room window. Every time a little bit of  sun shone through the window we were treated to those lovely amber colours, long after they had gone outside. It made the Dining room a smiley place during those dreary November days whilst we waited for December and it’s glittery goodness.

This year I’m trying this little trick to see how it works. Maybe we’ll make it into some Halloween potions game…

Preserving a leaf.

Glycerin (available at most Pharmacists)



Bring a mixture of 2 parts water and 1 part glycerin  to a boil in a saucepan. Pour this solution
into a heat-proof container. Drop in a few brightly coloured leaves and gently
submerge with a wooden spoon. Place a smaller dish on top of the leaves to keep them submerged. Keep the container in a cool, dark place until and start checking after 2-3 days (they should feel soft and pliable when finished).

Remove them and blot dry with a kitchen or paper towels.

The theory is that the leaves will be preserved as they were when you submerged them and not turn brown. I have also seen branches “preserved” by standing the branch  in a glycerin solution, allowing it to take up the glycerin and keep the leaves preserved on the branch.

So get out in the leaves, kick them, throw them enjoy them whilst they last and then bring a few home and as keepsakes to an afternoon of fun.

The trials of a de-humidifier

What started as a bit of lino that needed replacing at the end of September has spread and spread and taken over my kitchen, back hall, downstairs toilet, dining room and our  lives ……

“Ooohhhh, why is that dining room carpet wet there?”  (up came the kitchen lino)

“Ooohh, the dishwasher seems to be leaking, but it’s not on???” (disconnect dishwasher)

“Ooooh, I need to lift the back hall and toilet lino too???”  (up came the lino part 2)

“OOOHHHH, the concrete floor is saturated, you need to cut through the dining room carpet to test it??? RRRRIIIIPPP (up comes the dining room carpet)

“you need to install fans and de-humidifiers too??”

“What do you mean, it’s up the walls?”  (off comes the dining room, kitchen and toilet wallpaper)

So here we are at the end of October currently sporting an extreme form of shabby chic. After a week of looking at bare plaster  accompanied by the sounds and breeze associated with a ferry I gave the children the felts and told them to decorate the walls. It’s an ongoing project and rather liberating to draw on the walls… for everyone.

When the paper goes back up, we will forget what we have drawn until it is time to re-decorate again. I like to think that one day, when my children are grown up with children of their own, we’ll strip our wallpaper and show our grandchildren their wall art (like cave drawings!) and maybe hand them a felt-tip ..

Photos to follow shortly…….

Free play

Something magical happens when you take a child to trees and you do nothing… something stirs within them and they play in that special, timeless way that children do. They play in the moment, they lose themselves. This is especially true of boys…

Yesterday, my son was lost in his own world, crouched in the undergrowth, stick in hand. From a distance, he was doing “nothing”. There’s a sudden urge to wade right in there and find him something to do.

Look a little closer…….. listen a little harder…..

Don’t be fooled into thinking that unless you understand the game, that they aren’t playing meaningfully.  In fact, I am quite sure that if I had forced my way in uninvited the game would have lost all its meaning. If they ask me to play, I play by their rules, however fantastical and outrageous, because it’s their game. For so much of their lives they are told what to do and how to do it, they don’t need me to direct and dictate their imagination, too.

It can be a scary prospect to take your children somewhere without a planned purpose: no activity, no route to walk, nothing. Harder still to resist the (sometimes overwhelming) urge to organise and structure their games. I try to make sure I take something for me to do- a book, my camera, anything I can pick up and put down as the need arises. Then there is nothing to do but find a nice place to be and well, just be.

Shrunken heads in time for Halloween

Good morning and happy weekend!!!

Technological problem has been fixed for now, although a proper fix is booked for this week. Apologies in advance if  things are a bit quiet this week.I will get on when I can.

We are loving the Autumn sunshine. It feels so good to be outside and there’s some power-tidying and playing taking place today. A game of “The Enormous Turnip” is keeping the children giggling and highly amused

“Oh, come ON! PUUULLLL!” Followed by *WALLOP* and *GIGGLE*, as they both fall over. They aren’t picking turnips, though: just anything that needs to be pulled up for the winter. At the moment it’s leeks and nasturtiums. Later on, who knows?

Another job today is to pick the apples off the tree. Now some of these apples will be. well, pre-nibbled. It always seems a shame to throw away a summer’s effort because some-one got there first and didn’t have the good grace to finish the whole apple.

So, we use these apples to make shrunken heads for Halloween. You need to make them now as they take a couple of weeks. Here are the instructions

You will need:

An apple



Bicarbonate of Soda

tools for carving


1. Peel and carve your eyes, nose and mouth into your apple. [If you want to get all scientific weigh it now and weigh it again at the end to see how much change takes place.]

2. Place the apple in a small bowl and completely cover it with a mixture of salt and bicarb. Replace this whenever it becomes soggy over the next few weeks. After this the apple will have completely desiccated and will stay like this for a long time.

3. Use some wool to make it some hair and thread some string through the head and hang up.

Voila! A gruesome shrunken head for your Halloween window [cue evil laugh]