Summertime fun so far!

We wait with baited breathe for the sun to come out and the weather to warm up so we can officially call it summertime!! I know, sad really… But one thing could not be more true… Britain (particularly London) is one of the most wonderful places on earth during the summertime and I am happy to be here.

It is a crazy busy time of year as everyone tries to make the most of the good weather by spending as much time outdoors. I saw an advert for a supermarket that read: “Sunshine… Quick!! BBQ” Made me chuckle cause this is really what it is like and we have been no different. It has been a lovely summer so far and these are some of the things we have gotten up to.

DIY Projects
We have been busy in the garden and doing up various bits of the house. Matthew does most of the heavy lifting, sawing, and sanding etc and I am always on the sideline shouting instructions! We have completed our new headboard with left over pallet wood and our pallet furniture for outside is almost complete. We have painted the table in our kitchen and the next project will be the chairs. We have also built a new outdoor table with left over decking boards. It is so rewarding to see the transformation although, I cannot take the credit… Matthew is a DIY machine!

A day on the beach
The weather has been great the last few weeks and we decided to make the most of it! We both took the day off and spent the day on Camber beach in Rye. It only takes about 2.5 hours to get there. We started by having breakfast at The Ship Inn in Rye. They have the BEST French toast. The most delicious door stop piece of eggy bread with cinnamon, blueberries, bacon and syrup. Even though gluten does not agree with me, I made an exception on this occasion.

We then spent the rest of the day basking in the sunshine! Emily, of course, was in her element! Running around on the sandy beach, building sand castles with daddy (her favourite thing to do) and collecting shells. It fills your heart with joy to see your child run around with wild abandon. We ended the day with an ice cream before heading home at which point Emily passed out.

Cycling the Wandle Trail
If you live in South West London, I can highly recommend this trail for walking and cycling. We love cycling and to be able to do it as a family makes it even more special. We don’t head out on the bikes as often as we used to but whenever we feel the need, we haul them out and head off for a few hours of exercise. We love the Wandle Trail and it has been recently redone with new paths and bridges which make your cycling experience that much better. Morden Hall Park is our stop off point where we have a cup of coffee, go for a walk and pick flowers. This park has a number of activities throughout the summer such as outdoor cinema, beer on the river, summer food fares and camping nights with night trails for kids. Check out their website for more details. Put both the trail and the park on your “to do” list for the summer holidays.

Picking Carshalton Lavender
Carshalton is known for its lavendar and every year they open up the fields to the public to go picking. We didn’t do it last year but this year we decided to give it a go. As you walk into the field, you get these little wafts of lavender and with the beautiful surroundings, you really feel like you are away from it all. Emily enjoyed picking the flowers and smelling them. “Mmmm, beautiful!” She says. I love doing things like this with her. We have a strawberry plant in the garden that Matthew bought for her and they would go out every day to see how the plant grew little flowers which then turned into fruit. I feel like it teaches her patience and appreciation for the things around her. What a lovely morning! Of course, we took our pickings home and dotted small bunches all around the house.

So much love for the summertime and while we have a couple months of summer left, we certainly have a few other activities up our sleeve. Some great Summer ideas are:
Udderbelly festival on the south bank
-Visit a “pick your own” farm
-The beach near the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
-Camping in the garden/or camping at a camp site
-Local summer festivals (check your council website)
-Do a wine tasting tour
Outdoor Cinema
-Picnic in your local park

There are loads of activities for adults and kids alike. Have a look at your local council and parks for ideas. Make hay while the sun shines and enjoy the rest of the beautiful British summer. Happy long, lazy summer days to you all.

Have you got any great summertime activity ideas?

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A Salt Dough Garland

We woke up on Sunday morning and felt really disappointed to see the overcast weather and I thought to myself, what am I going to do with a toddler indoors all day today??

I then remembered that I wanted to make salt dough ornaments for the Christmas tree last Christmas, but I just didn’t get round to it. As it requires ingredients in every kitchen, I figured… today is as good a day as any!

Recipe:
1 cup salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup water

Mix everything together to form a fairly wet and sticky dough.

I then scooped the dough from the bowl onto a floured table and let Emily really get stuck in. She absolutely loved it!

Once the dough becomes more workable from kneading and playing with it, you can then roll it out with a rolling pin.

We then used Emily’s choice of cookie cutter, which on this occasion was a whale, and cut out our shapes (Tip: the dough needs to be quite thick)

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We then poked holes into the shapes with a skewer and placed them onto baking paper and baked in an oven (100°c for 2 hours).

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Once they were cool, I strung them up to make a garland and Emily and I walked around the house and garden to figure out where she wanted to hang her new creation.

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With a little persuasion from dad, she agreed that the chalkboard wall was a good place. We were both very chuffed with our creation and luckily, by the time we were done, the sun had come out and we decided to go out for a family walk with Emily on her scooter.

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Of course there are many things you can do with these. You can add food colouring during the dough phase or paint them once they are are dry and cool. I have seen some of them with a dried flower embedded into the ornament. You can also use a twig from the garden to make pretty impressions. Be as creative as you like.

We thoroughly enjoyed our arts and crafts day and hopefully, this will provide hours of entertainment for you too!

Why he is the best dad

We were recently back in South Africa for a visit and we were having breakfast at a lovely cafe in the shopping mall, when Emily said she needed to go to the toilet. Before I could even say anything, Matthew was up and taking Emily to the bathroom. My Aunt “mum” turned to me and said “Sjoe!… Cands, he is such a hands on daddy!”

I am acutely aware of how hands on Matthew is with Em but it was one of those little aha! moments. Realising how much he does for her and most importantly, with her! So, I thought in light of Father’s Day coming up this weekend, I would dedicate this post to Matthew because, he really is the best dad.

When we found out we were pregnant, I remember Matthew did a little “whoop!” in the bathroom and patted himself on the back. I laughed because I knew then that he was so up for this job and that we were both ready. To be honest, it has been a roller coaster ride since then. The first night we were home with Emily, she had not latched on properly yet and was not feeding well. She pretty much cried the entire night. We both just looked at each other with a look that screams “help me!”. We had no idea what we were doing! However, when I look back on that night, there is one thing that stands out… Matthew was by my side the entire time. If I wasn’t sleeping, neither was he. We were in this together and we would figure it out as a team.

This is very indicative of how our parenting style has developed over the years. Constantly walking around with the look on our faces that says “I have no idea what I am doing half the time” but I now look at Matthew and I know that whatever stage we are dealing with, we are in it together.

I never really had a stable father figure as a child. My Aunt and Uncle took my sister and I in when I was 14 (this is whole other story for a different day). My uncle is the most wonderful man you will ever meet. He became my rock and my inspiration and I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to be moulded and guided by him at such an impressionable time in my life. When I look at Matthew and Emily, I see their relationship going from strength to strength (just like my my relationship with my uncle has grown) and I feel secure in the knowledge that the 2 of them will remain close. Daddy’s girl, as they say!

I love the fact that he WANTS to spend time with Emily. He lets her tie his hair in a hair band, they play tea party and Matthew is the Lego master. She delights in the incredible objects he creates with those little blocks. They love to be in the garden together planting flowers and watching the garden grow. Emily adores the beach and building sand castle is her favourite thing to do with her dad. And as Emily gets older, I can just see Matthew sitting in Emily’s room, looking like a clown with all the make-up she has applied to his face and the both of them screaming with laughter!

Both Emily and I are lucky to have him and we couldn’t imagine life without him so, thanks babe for all the love! And to all the dads out there, Happy Father’s Day!