Spring updates and podcast enlightenment

With the weather finally warming up and the rain holding off for a few days here and there we have been steadily completing our ‘to do’ list of bits and pieces at The Manor.

The first and most important task to tackle has been the refurb of the tennis court. Lots of pressure washing, sweeping later we are finally nearing the final stages and it is looking fab. Trees have been removed that hung over the court meaning that we now have less of an issue with the dreaded moss.

All the exterior paint work has been re done giving the house a nice fresh facelift and as I type all the fencing surrounding the garden is being taken away and replaced. All in all it is looking great.

We gave the games barn a good old clean up the other day, it’s still a barn, but a tidy barn!

I have to mention the magnolia tree at the Manor ( I fear I am becoming a magnolia bore, but hey, it’s only ever for a brief time in the year!)
Last year during a storm the guests using the house called to say a branch had fallen in the driveway, it wasn’t obstructing the drive but they wanted to let us know. After check out I went to assess and at the time it didn’t look great, a large branch has splintered and was on the ground, barely attached to the tree. I asked Harry to get round with his chainsaw pronto to get it removed and sawn up for logs. It got added to the never ending list of ‘to do’s’ I have but over a few days it didn’t look quite so bad so it fell to the wayside. After a week or so I noticed that the branch was still very much alive so I decided to leave it be in the hope that I would be rewarded with floor height sweeping magnolia to enjoy. We haven’t been disappointed, it looks amazing.

Whilst on the subject of flora I discovered a very lovely farmers market held on the fourth Saturday of each month on the high street in Dorchester (15 mins away from the Manor) – I tend to avoid ‘town’ on a Saturday as it’s always busy and we are usually ferrying kids to football or walking the pooch. On this occasion I was underprepared for Mothering Sunday so needed to do a quick trip in to get bits and bobs before collecting my nephews for a sleepover. We ended up in town at about 9.30 and it was nice and quiet, easy to park. We discovered the farmers market which I would highly recommend. There were loads of lovely stalls selling delicious produce and we took advantage of trying lots of stuff. My absolute favourite stall had to be this flower stall where I managed to find some beautiful Parrot Tulips and Ranunculus for Mothers day (myself & my mummy!!) I will be going again!

We had a lovely Mothering Sunday in the garden enjoying the sunshine. I was given lots of lovely cuddles from the kidlets and Harry cooked us all his speciality lasagne which was delicious.

As well as getting things spruced up at The Manor I have been working hard at home to get the decoration finished. Having been here for a year now I felt it was time to crack on now that I understand the light and how the spaces work. I am still stuck in a very white place as it’s so easy to touch up and add to or take away from. I am branching out in to other variations of white though and am using Farrow & Ball Strong White in most of the rooms other than hallways. It is a lovely subtle colour and very calming. I am so sick of painting now but am persevering as my goal is to be finished by the end of May and that is well within our sights.

I was trying to focus on the ground floor only when we inherited a lovely new bed from some friends. After a massive Ebay trawl I managed to purchase a brand new barely used mattress for it (for a tenner!!!) and so commenced the great British bed swap where Harry had to take down and move not one, but three beds and travel about for a whole day to satisfy my whims. Whilst we had an empty room for a few hours I finished painting the floor which has been a ambition for a while. I lOVE it. It’s totally impractical and a nightmare to keep clean but it’s my dream bedroom and I just like looking at it, which in my book makes it worth it.

In the midst of all the tennis court work / decorating etc we have been doing, I needed to find a decent distraction from the drone of the pressure washer or relentless and depressing news updates on the radio. I can’t remember who suggested podcasts, I think I may have seen one talked about on Insta but I am now fully obsessed and finding more and more brilliant ones to subscribe to and enjoy. They are engaging, topical, current and FREE! easier than reading as you can carry on about your daily work and still enjoy them. I am yet to listen in the car as I am mostly in the car with the children and we are in an unbroken cycle of Ed Sheehan and Musical Times Table (yawn). Here is a list of my current favourites, in no particular order.

* The High Low – Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton
* Desert Island discs – Radio 4
* Any of The New Statesman ones
* Letters to my fanny – Cherry Healey

I love them all and they are a treat to listen to. I am looking forward to discovering more.

We are also planning more stuff for the garden, I want to grow more of our own produce this year and learn more about it. My dear friend Abi has the most amazing poly tunnel that her and her husband Scott spend most of their summer in which is very inspiring. We are not at tunnel standard yet but on the hunt for a unused green house to adopt on free cycle. Knowledge is coming in book form from the very clever and talented Hollie Newton who recently published “How to Grow” – it is a stunning book and we are really enjoying it. You may also notice her name from the many Newspaper clippings and articles that are being published about her at the moment.

Dorset half term holiday roundup ♡

We decided on more of a ‘staycation’ vibe for our half term holidays this February – living and working in Dorset is obviously great and we as a family really appreciate what is has to offer but all too often we get stuck in a rut and go on the same walks to the same places or don’t leave the village at all for days out and just walk through the forest (which is beautiful too!)

So for the last week or so we have been reacquainting ourselves with our beautiful county. It helps that the weather has been kind to us and inspires you to get out and go exploring.

Just before half term we took an after school trip to Ringstead Bay, it has to be one of our favourite local beaches. It is only a 10 min car ride from Moreton and is very beautiful and a good safe beach for the kids. On this afternoon the sun was shining and there were rainbows to welcome us. The waves were actually quite big for Ringstead and we were lucky enough to have some surfers too watch whilst the sun went down. The girl one collected sea glass (her new obsession when on the beach) and the rest of us enjoyed the views!

For valentines we made cute tassle bunting and homemade cards. We had our favourite breakfast of Rye, scrambled eggs, goats cheese & capers (sounds weird, tastes divine) which is a recipe from the fantastic Rosie Londoner blog ♡ http://www.thelondoner.me/2016/02/goats-cheese-caper-scramble.html

We then headed over to Freshwater Holiday Park – which is in Burton Bradstock. We had been told about the Jurassic Fun Centre which is a small water park with slides and flumes, initially not my idea of a romantic valentines but it was fantastic for the kids, great value and clean. They played for hours and we were rewarded with a trip to The Anchor Inn at Seatown – which is my favourite local pub at the moment, and that was romantic! Check it out – http://www.theanchorinnseatown.co.uk. It is right on the beach with fabulous views and has a delicious menu, cocktail list and open fires.

I am a huge fan of The National Trust and am on a mission to use our family subscription over the year as much as possible without the trips becoming repetitive for the kids, personally I could visit most of our local NT places all the time and never get bored.

We managed not one but two NT visits over half term. I spent a lovely day with two friends and our 9 children at Corfe Castle, it never disappoints and there are always really good activities for the children to enjoy. We managed a picnic in the gaps between rain and warmed up with hot chocolates in front of the wood burner in the visitor centre afterwards.

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We also visited Kingston Lacey with a crew of friends and kids and it was delightful. The sun was shining and the snowdrop garden was in full bloom, the kids ran about the gardens and explored whilst the adults ambled along behind them. We headed up to the kitchen garden where there is a small play area for the kids, it is quite basic with a couple of Wendy houses and mini tractors but they all absolutely loved it and played for ages until the sound started going down, the coffee hut closed and the adults lost enthusiasm!

The next day we continued our tour of Dorset to Kimmerage. I went with a neighbour and five of our children. It was a really lovely little trip and we were happy to discover that the new Etches Collection museum was now open – http://www.theetchescollection.org/home a beautifully designed museum and it contained a great exhibition, the children all loved it. We then had our own fossil hunting expedition on the beach.

We ended the week spending time with visiting friends and on Saturday decided to make the most of the glorious weather and head to Lulworth cove for a walk over Stair Hole in to the cove.

Sea paddling on a sunny Saturday ⛵️🍭

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We stopped for lunch, OUTSIDE! before heading back to Moreton. The children had not expelled all their energy and decide to go to the Ford where we played in the Kayak and watched the sun go down. On the return home everyone had warm baths before cosying down for the evening. It was the perfect end to a lovely week in Dorset.

T x