A Lesson From The Kids

Posted on April 17th, 2013 - Anya

A poorly boy

I am having one of those weeks when my outdoor children, who are usually as tough as old boots and hardy to the extreme, have instead been falling one after another to a ghastly sickness bug. I think they are on a rota between themselves to see whose turn it is to have a day at home with Mum! When children feel unwell they have that special flushed look or are worryingly colourless, either way the only option is to send them back to bed with a sick bowl! You know they are not playing you up when there is no argument and no desire to hang out on the sofa with the television for company. Guy was off yesterday and when I saw him this morning, there was no way school was an option! Given I had Clio sick in the night I figured at least they could keep each other company!

Guy looking poorly

How Things Can Change

By lunch time they had both moved to the sofa and wondered downstairs in their pyjamas. Declaring themselves hungry I let them munch on some plain toast and glasses of water before suggesting that a walk over to the farm to help me feed the lambs might cheer them up. Clio mumbled she wasn’t up to it but Guy agreed to join me. I know I bang on about the power of fresh air but as we walked across the wooded path chatting together Guy visibly improved.

Guy Feeding the Lambs

By the time we returned the sun was shining and he and Clio made themselves comfy on the sun loungers in the garden. I was conscious that it was nearly school pick up time and that the older children had surf club at the beach. I had no intention of taking the poorly pair but since Nick had gone out shopping for an emergency bath replacement for one of our properties they had to come. I wrapped them up and thought a little sea air wouldn’t hurt.

A Miraculous Recovery

The pictures tell it all really, hardly looking poorly now! I warned them it wasn’t a good idea and hadn’t even taken Guy’s wet suit, yet still when I turned my back there he was playing in the sea with Jed while Clio hovered round the surf group, leggings pushed up to make shorts. 

At the beach looking far from unwell!

I am delighted to say it is school for all today. I really do marvel at the way for children a bug can descend like a hail storm, pound their whole being then leave them, just like the sun breaking through the clouds as though the storm had never been. This is a skill I think we loose with age; I am far more inclined to struggle on when feeling poorly and only gradually return to full strength again. I would love to be like my children and just bounce straight back into life firing on all cylinders. 

Mother’s Day Fears

Posted on March 10th, 2013 - Anya

Low expectations

When the children were young, there was always an anticipation on Mother’s Day; the expectation of some artistic triumph from Nursery or Playgroup that they would be bursting to give me at some ungodly hour on the big day. It was a delightful early morning call and one which I feared would not be facing me this year. It did make me feel sad to think that the days of “I love you Mummy” cards might be over. 

And so the Morning Dawned……

No cuddles, no one in my bed rushing to give me homemade presents, Nick and I carried on our usual morning chores and greeted the guests for the first feed run of the week. I have to hand it to them as it was bitterly cold and we have some very young little helpers this week but they made it right round all the animals. I sloped off to enjoy a run on my own as my Mother’s Day treat to myself arriving back just in time to see them all finishing up at the rabbits.


Tractor rides from the car park and back to the rabitts


A Surprise Waiting

I came back into the garden with Nick to a wonderful selection of flowers from the farm and tulips from Clio (Thank you Brownies).


Mother's Day Flowers from the Farm


When I stepped inside my kitchen was spotless and a big fry up was well underway. Fruit and yogurt might have been healthier after my run, but hey, I have a house of boys and it is not their idea of a treat! My eldest was the leader in this military operation and I was quite overwhelmed, the only “clutter” on my kitchen Island was the site of cards from the children. I could have cried with happiness.


Mother's Day Cards and gifts


I have to admit after my run I was delighted to be tucking into bacon, sausage and eggs and steaming hot coffee. I must have been totally taken by surprise as I didn’t think to grab the camera to show off their culinary skills before tucking in. They even washed up for me.

A laugh a minute

On a roll now with their Mother’s Day surprises the younger children were in and out of the house all afternoon buzzing back and forth. More flowers arrived and then a note, how could I refuse?


Letter to Mummy

Nick and I both took our seats for the promised performance, I caught the amateur production on video and while I’m sure they are some way off a Punch and Judy performance to entertain the guests, it certainly tickled Nick and me. The unpolished nature of the performance and 3 restarts somehow added to the fun! Please don’t expect to follow the plot, they assure me there was one but it’s not easy to follow!


If you were wondering where my middle boys were, they were taking a very low profile following an all night 12 mile hike with Scouts which finished at the hut in sleeping bags the early hours of the morning. After being dropped home they spent the best part of Mother’s Day skulking round with sunken red eyes and grunting at anyone who passed them! They did however appear to brighten up for dinner wolfing down my Gammon in Cider as if they hadn’t seen food for a month! 

For me it was a pretty perfect Mother’s Day. I even gave into the pressure of watching Top Gear with them all snuggled up on the sofas, which was actually funnier than I had imagined. May be next year will the dreaded one where my children feel to big too bother with the little surprises? I do hope not.


 Mother's Day Evening



I have seen a few Mother’s Day posts around so I am making this a blog hop to bring them together. Please grab this code if you would like to add the blog hop to your post, or alternatively just link up here.


My Big Fat Greek Birthday

Posted on February 5th, 2013 - Anya

Farmer Nick goes back to his roots as Nikos 

If you have ever watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding I can confirm that it really is a good take on Greek family life. When Nick toldGreek Taverna at Coombe Mill! me he wanted a Greek dinner party for his Birthday this year I knew it would involve copies amounts of cooking and plenty of Retsina (Greek wine) and a party that would stretch into the early hours over several courses. Our English friends were only too happy to indulge Nikos and lapse into the Greek way with us for an evening. It really felt like we were back in a Greek Taverna on holiday, rather than the reality of my kitchen on the farm!

Thank goodness for good mates!

I have my close friends to thank for coming along in the afternoon and helping me decorate the room. Cooking on a large scale I am comfortable with, but trying to transform the kitchen whilst keeping the children elsewhere and occupied I find a struggle. We were ready in good time right down to the detail of glitter on the name tags and Greek flags on the napkin ties and more importantly had a good laugh and a cuppa over it all too while all our children happily enjoyed the extra time playing together. 


Greek Banqueting Table

As 7.30pm rolled round and our guests arrived, having the room looking just so put everyone in the party mood. Alistair had kindly set us up with Zorba the Greek on the i-pod and there was much musing over when the plate smashing would commence as the fizz was popped and laughter filled the air.


Party fun for Farmer Nick


In true Greek style it was a good hour or so before we actually sat down to eat and I kept the courses flowing until late. I think I am going to have to follow up with one or two of these recipes on the blog as I was rather proud of the finished results:


Let the feast begin!


The children were very much involved stoking up the fire for us in the BBQ hut where they and Nick and the Men all helped grill the souvlaki course over traditional wood. Every so often one of the children would come and see how we were getting on, have a quick cuddle, grab a bite to eat and disappear again. It is lovely that they are old enough to do this now and feel part of the evening too. Needless to say they all appeared when it came to singing Happy Birthday and helping Daddy blow out the candles revelling in their bed time extension!

Birthday Cake and Kids

Mummy Tip

Don’t be afraid to ask for help on a big party, organizing with friends is so much easier and more fun than trying to do everything alone. I love to entertain and have learned over the years that friends are only too grateful for a good night out and more than willing to help muck in bringing a dish or decorating the room with me. I can honestly say I enjoyed the party as much as any of our guests or Nikos himself. Learning to relax and enjoy entertaining is something I wish I had mastered years ago. Perhaps some things do just come with practice and age?


Happy Birthday Farmer Nick

Mums on Tour

Posted on January 22nd, 2013 - Anya


Why do I feel the need to justify a night away? I look after our 6 children, work really hard running our family business and look after him in doors outdoors aka Farmer Nick, yet when I take some time out I feel I need to justify myself. Is this just my inner Mummy saying it not right or my perfect inner wife finding herself a voice? Whatever it is, when the chance for a night away presents itself I over rule my inner conscience and jump on board suppressing the guilt, only then do I discover that I play hard too!

Road Trip

After our successful trip last year to “Strictly Come Dancing: The Tour” the girls were back on tour again last weekend. Having booked and paid for our tickets and travel lodge in advance we were determined that the dire weather warnings were not going to stop us. Armed with blankets, snow chains and a 4 wheel drive we set off on *mission impossible* from Cornwall to Birmingham through the snow around 11.00 am on Saturday. As it turns out everyone else had heeded the weather warnings and stayed off the road, we couldn’t have had an easier journey and even allowed ourselves a late lunch at Bristol’s Cribbs Causeway and a spot of retail therapy! 


Road tip pit stop


Girl Power

Arriving in good time we agreed to meet up in one room for drinks before the show. I was running late having opted for a walk before hand to stretch my legs and gather my bearings for later. That meant putting the rollers in whilst sipping champagne and smudging my nail polish in my quest to scoff my share of the nibbles! I loved the getting ready with music giggles and fizz nearly as much as the night itself, such a girly thing to do and so far away from my average day on the farm!


Girl Power


Just what did I think I was doing dashing through the snow like a lush still carrying my glass of fizz to the National Indoor Arena?


Running through the streets of Birmingham


We made it in one piece to the show, ok with just one fall, and claimed our seats just in time. I did notice a few empty ones suggesting the weather had put some off the journey.  To be honest I am not a huge strictly fan and have to ask my friends all the way through who is the amateur, where they are from and who is the professional! I just love the whole live event, the build up and the way we make a full 24 hours of girly giggles and fun.

Highlights: but don’t ask me who is who!


Strictly Come Dancing Show Highlights


After topping up our wine glasses in the interval and negotiating the inevitable queue to the ladies, the second half flew by and all too soon we found ourselves joining the exodus trying not to land up in the river as we slid and slipped along the exit paths. Distinctly hungry now we navigated ourselves towards Cafe Rouge after I had eyed it up on my earlier walk. 


From Strictly to food!


By the time we finished eating it was approaching midnight. In high spirits and making the most of our time away from home we spotted the 80’s bar we fell into last year. Not thinking twice we headed in to boogie on down into the early hours! 


 Dancing girls

The Morning after the night before

I was first to wake in the morning and text the others.

Me      “Anyone awake”

Anita    “Just making a cuppa and back to bed”

Fi          “Not really”

Me       Clambers out of bed nursing aching feet and opens curtains to see fine snow falling and settling on the roads below

            “It’s snowing I think we should get going”

Fi and Anita together

            “Ready in 20 mins”!

After our hasty departure the M5 was once again clear of snow and empty of cars. We were home by 4pm in my case to “What’s for tea Mum”. Nothing like arriving home and hitting the ground running! Sunday night and Monday were a real struggle for me playing catch up and suffering serious sleep loss and probably the ill effects of a glass to many the night before. We were only away for a night but it felt like a real break. Farmer Nick and the kids seemed equally happy judging by the trail of pot noodles and white bread in evidence around the kitchen, all strictly frowned up on by me and further designed to fuel my inner guilt at going! 

The Big question

Will I go again next year……..you bet! 

Do you get the chance to take a break? It is much harder when you have small children who are really going to miss you, but if you have the opportunity with husbands, partners. parents or friends then my advice is to accept. It doesn’t have to be far away or for very long, but a little break in routine is a breath of fresh air for the inner you.

For me, I appreciate all that I love about being a Mummy by not being one for a day!

Thank You Letters: Chore or Pleasure?

Posted on January 6th, 2013 - Anya

Does this chain of events happen in your house?

We had a wonderful time opening these….

Christmas morning

and these…..

Christmas Presents Galore!

and now with school again tomorrow it was time to sit down to this…….


 Thank you letters


A Chore for my kids

I would love to pretend they happily come to the table to sit and write their letters however that would be a fib. Prior to the orderly writing shown above comes a good 15 minutes of arguing, huffing and puffing, slumping of shoulders and conversations like this:

Ally on his phoneFelix on the computer to email


Jed trying to skype

all followed by me threatening to send back all the presents if they can’t sit down and say thank you, and so they come to the table, cut and paste old Christmas cards and knuckle down to some writing. Even Farmer Nick has to set the example and write to his Aunt and Uncle!

Farmer Nick writing Thank you letters

When the children were young it was easier, I could write the card and they just signed them. Now that they are too old for this and really have to do it all themselves it is much harder for them and for me!

35 cards they turned out between the six of them today. They are not works of art and some suffer from minimal content but every present from Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents and God Parents has a card of thanks ready for posting in the morning. How school manages to keep them working at a desk all day is beyond me. An hour or so here is all I can take. 

Thank you cards complete

Do you think writing thank you letters is still important?

If I received a text or an email as thanks from those I send presents to I would be fine about it, yet I still insist on mine writing old fashioned thank you letters and cards. I would like to let them move on but am not yet sure it is socially acceptable to do so. Do you go through the same process? Do you think it is OK to say thanks face to face or by email, text, a phone call, skype or facebook and are some alternative forms going to become acceptable before others?