A Month Of Snowy February …

The beautifully pure snowdrop is the first flower of the year. The blossoming of the snowdrop is a sign, that the winter is transforming to springtime. Although you would be forgiven for thinking we are still in the coldest part of midwinter given the huge amount of snowfall settling around us this month.

For my nature loving girl, staying inside hibernating against the elements will only work for so long. She was absolutely desperate to play outside but, as she was still recovering from a nasty flu virus I was a little reluctant to let her brave the weather. However, by the third day of deep snowfall I think we were all craving some fresh air. Enid our cat loved it too.

February is always a wonderfully sentimental month for us. We celebrate our wedding anniversary towards the end of the month and for Neiva that means an extra special family day which she absolutely loves. We always start the day present opening with a bubbly bucks fizz followed by pancakes which Neiva always makes for her Daddy. To look at it she wont be winning any Michelin stars but Paul says its the best pancake he’s ever tasted.

So as we move into warmer days and lighter nights I’ll leave you with this beautiful poem Neiva and I have been learning. Its called February Twilight by Sara Teasdale

I stood beside a hill
Smooth with new-laid snow,
A single star looked out
From the cold evening glow.

There was no other creature
That saw what I could see —
I stood and watched the evening star
As long as it watched me.

How beautiful are my anniversary flowers? I absolutely love Bloom & Wild. Their ethos is simple; flowers, delivered with love. Bloom & Wild have kindly given me a code so you can celebrate with us and save 20% on any of their stunning flowers here. My bouquet is the Aspen.

Goodbye Autumn

September arrived and summer was fading fast. The air had started to cool and, as the nights drew closer and the days shorter, my heart did sink a little. Suddenly, our long sunny evening walks in open toe sandals, the goodness of the sun on our faces, the golden hour sat in the garden watching the birds, the heady scent of lavender on our fingertips seemed to be quickly slipping away.

The roses were losing their beautiful petals and I was losing heart. Neiva loves being outside so much, I worried being cooped up inside would make us all miserable and irritable.

Then Autumn arrived in all its glorious splendour. Those reds, oranges and yellows! Mother Nature really does dazzles us with her spectacular array of riotous colours.  There is something truly beautiful slowing down and watching a season change before your very eyes.

Autumnal wonder aside, October is always a month very special for us.

Every year, as soon as the October school term ends, we pack up and head just a short drive from home, with family and friends, to a very beautiful big house set in the heart of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. With the open fires, limited wifi, beautiful cold and colourful walks, it is a wonderful restful tonic. It really is our Autumn highlight.

I cannot imagine visiting here during any other season. Away from the harsh artificial lights of the towns and cities, here, on a cold clear night, you can really see the stars. Its truly magical and something every child should experience.

So as we move gently from Autumn into Winter, with its dark cold nights and ethereal crisp days, we have happily crossed off most of our Autumn to-do bucket list. The Winter season brings another range of family traditions, marshmallows by the fire, drinking homemade hot chocolate, movie nights followed by duvet days, winter walks and our cottage holiday by the sea.

Winter, we are ready for you.

 

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came-
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.

The Chestnuts came in yellow,
The Oaks in crimson dressed;
The lovely Misses Maple
In scarlet looked their best;
All balanced to their partners,
And gaily fluttered by;
The sight was like a rainbow
New fallen from the sky.

Then, in the rustic hollow,
At hide-and-seek they played,

The party closed at sundown,
And everybody stayed.
Professor Wind played louder;
They flew along the ground;
And then the party ended
In jolly “hands around.”

Author: George Cooper

To follow our journey on Instagram please click here

Summer Walks & Blackberry Pie

August has been such a wonderful month. Days have slowed down almost to a stop. No rushed school run, no plans other than to take one day at a time, a setting in which Neiva thrives.

August is also the season for blackberries and at the later end of the month, apples. We have a huge blackberries bush in our garden that spills over the fence. Every morning, it has become a routine for Neiva (still in pajamas) to take her basket and collect them, though few make it as far as the basket.

She is so incredibly careful of the thorns and manages even to find and successfully pick the most heavily guarded ones with very little effort (unlike me).

As well as the garden, we have very beautiful woodland walks close to home. Weather permitting, we have spent many hours, basket in hand foraging. Its such a quiet and peaceful way to spend an afternoon.

Blackberry picking should be on every child’s to do list. Whilst some shy away from encouraging their children to pick berries, it is safer to teach children which berries they can eat than it is to tell them not to eat any, leaving them open to experimenting at a later date without your supervision.

For a successful forage with small children here are some valuable lessons we’ve learned along the way.

Lesson #1: Where there are blackberries there are nettles. Always wear a good pair of boots to keep little legs covered. A cane is also very useful to get to the big juicy ones higher up.

Lesson #2: Always pick from knee level up. There will be a small chance the lower level berries may have been watered by a passing urinating dog and also it’s hedgerow law to leave some for the mice, at least that’s what we tell Neiva.

Lesson #3: The sweetest berries are the blackest berries. Blackberries get sweeter the darker they get. Obvious to us but the red unripe berries look equally delicious through the eyes of a child.

This week, we managed to pick enough blackberries and apples to make a huge pie. We even had it for breakfast (another summer holiday tradition). It is so wonderful for Neiva to learn (like our earlier elderflower adventure) the process from picking to washing then baking to eating.

Apple & Blackberry Pie…

  • 250g flour
  • 125g cold cubed butter
  • 1 egg yolk beaten
  • pinch of salt
  • a tablespoon of sugar (optional)
  • splash of milk to combine
  • enough (chopped) apples and blackberries to fill a pie dish

Method…

  1. On a low heat add the blackberries and chopped apples to a pan with a splash of water and a tablespoon of sugar. Simmer until the apples have softened and the liquid has thickened slightly. Leave to cool. Meanwhile, make the pastry.
  2. In a food processor, add the flour, butter and salt and blitz to combine. Add the beaten egg yolk and milk and blitz until a dough forms (about 20 seconds) and the bowl is clean. Wrap in cling film and place in fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. Cut a third of the dough to use for the top of the pie and roll out the rest and place in the bottom of the pie dish. Add the cooled filling. For the top of the pie I like to lattice, you can find a tutorial here.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven on the middle shelf for 20-25 minutes until golden.

Despite the rain that’s sporadically showered its way through August, we have really enjoyed our slow days and although we are so ready for Autumn, this month will be remembered fondly for long walks and our harvest from the hedgerows.

 

I knew when I met you… a grand adventure was going to happen – AA Milne (Winnie the Pooh)

Five Days In Beautiful Anglesey…. (and a Vlog)

We first visited this beautiful island when Neiva had just turned two and fell in love instantly! We’ve holidayed here in full glorious sunshine and in the gloomy British rain and we’ve honestly loved both contrasts in equal measure. Anglesey is the perfect setting for our nature wandering, outdoor loving girl. We’ve been making regular visits ever since. I hope she looks back in years to come and remembers fondly her childhood holidays here.

For our adventures this time, we stayed slightly inland (although never more than a short drive away from a beach) in a beautiful unspoiled quirky two bedroomed cottage. It was absolutely perfect.

After a particularly heavy rainfall overnight, the weather had brightened up enough the following morning to venture out. We decided to take a trip to RSPB South Stack Lighthouse. The views are spectacular.


The coastal walk is not for the faint hearted and we held onto Neiva tightly as we walked the short distance to the look out. Once we had taken in the glorious scenery we headed back to the visitor centre for some lunch.


On the way back to the cottage we stopped at the beach at Red Wharf Bay. The tide was out and all that remained were large crater like puddles which suited Neiva perfectly. She leapt from pool to pool excitedly and we were happy to let her run around after keeping her on a tight leash earlier at the lighthouse. I don’t think I’ve ever held her hand so tightly!

After a quick change of clothes for Neiva who was absolutely soaking wet from her puddle jumping adventures, we stopped for tea and cake at the very charming Old Boat House Cafe nearby after Neiva had spotted the icecream cart outside. The sun was now shining brightly and it was a beautiful end to our day.

The next morning the sun was shining so we made the short drive to Traeth Bychan, a small secluded sandy bay a ten minute drive from our cottage. It was so quiet and peaceful. Neiva adores the sea, so she was in her absolute element chasing waves.


By lunchtime the warm sun had disappeared behind the clouds so we decided to head back. On the way home we stopped at Beaumaris.

Beau’s Tea Shop is a delightful tea room set in a 400 year old cottage with a choice of over 25 different types of tea! The room was filled with the most delicate China tea sets and the most beautiful and rather large cakes made by a local lady in the village. Paul took Neiva to the park overlooking the nearby castle whilst my mother in law and I (we have a shared love of tea rooms) enjoyed a rare afternoon treat.


The next day Paul had some work to catch up on so left in search of a coffee shop and wifi. We stayed behind and enjoyed a lazy morning at the cottage. He returned at lunchtime which gave us the afternoon to explore some more.

The weather had taken a slightly downward turn from the wonderful sunshine we’d enjoyed the day before. It was cloudy but dry so we headed back towards the Menai Bridge to Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens. This for me was the highlight of our holiday. It is breathtakingly beautiful.


We were totally captivated by the beauty and tranquillity of this place. From the cottage garden to the 39 steps, the beautiful waterfall to the lower valley gardens, it is such a wonderful hidden find and an amazing sensory experience for children.


​​We will be returning to Anglesey before the end of summer. We have so many plans for our next visit and so many more memories to make.

Highlights:

  • Our cottage and the beautiful secret garden door
  • The secluded beach at Traeth Bychan
  • Beau’s Tea Shop
  • The icecream hut at The Old Boat House Cafe
  • Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens

Vlog #1: Song: True North (Jillette Johnson)

​​

720p from leanne beardsley on Vimeo.

Children & Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the practice of using the natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant and using aroma to enhance psychological and physical well-being.

Yorkshire Lavender, May 2016

Aromatherapy is extremely beneficial to children of all ages and personality types. I qualified as an aromatherapist in 2009 and am using that knowledge and training to help Neiva in her journey.

Please bear in mind that although they are natural extracts, essential oils are extremely potent and should always be kept sealed tight and away from little hands at all times.

Another point to consider is that children, compared to us, have a heightened sense of smell (and children with sensory processing issues even more so) and can have sensitive skin. In this situation less is more. So the rule of thumb is to halve the stated standard dose.

If you are new to aromatherapy and want to have a taster of what the benefits of using essential oils are for you and your family, just remember “TLC”:

  • Tea Tree
  • Lavender
  • Chamomile (Roman)

These three essential oils are safe to use and the benefits are extremely effective on children. There are other oils that work and treat many things but I would recommend these are the three to start with.

Nature is the one place where miracles not only happen, they happen all the time – Thomas Wolfe

Yorkshire Lavender, May 2016

How to Apply Essential Oils to Children
There are a number of different ways all with important roles you can incorporate into daily life.

  • baths; Neiva absolutely loves water. Whenever she is ill or out of sorts, the first thing we do to assess how poorly she may be is by putting her in the tub. All you need to do is add a few drops of essential oil straight into the bath water.
  • massage; this is a truly lovely way to connect with your child. I attended a baby massage course with Neiva when she was 3 months old and it was such a lovely experience for both of us. Dilute drops of essential oil into a carrier oil.
  • diffusion; probably the method I use daily. Using a tea light oil burner, add a few drops of chosen essential oil to a little water and let the scent infuse the room.If you would rather not play around with tea lights an ultrasonic diffuser has the same effect but is safe enough to leave in a child’s room
  • inhalations; particularly good for coughs and cold’s however in children (young children in particular), the safest method is to add the essential oil to a wet muslin cloth and place over a warm radiator in your child’s room.

Yorkshire Lavender, May 2016

Before you begin to use essential oils its important to remember;

  • Always buy essential oils from a reputable source. If the oil is not pure, it will not have the effect you need. I buy my oils from Neals Yard
  • Aromatherapy oils should never be taken orally;
  • If the oils come into direct contact with the eyes, wash thoroughly with cold water or milk and seek medical advice if needed;
  • If you are concerned about skin sensitivity, try a patch test first. Apply the diluted oil (which means the oils have been added to a carrier oil) to a small patch of skin on the inner wrist. Wait an hour and if there is no redness or irritation, the continue to apply the oil as normal.

Following this, there will be a series of posts highlighting essential oils and oil blends that have been most beneficial to Neiva from calming temper tantrums to improving concentration. You can read the next post on lavender here.

Finally, aromatherapy will open you up to a whole new experience of the healing power of nature. Unlike man made methods, everything that has been grown on this earth is here to benefit our bodies in one way or another.

The photos in this post were taken during a trip to Yorkshire Lavender last year. We look forward to visiting this beautiful place again soon.

 

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