Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Watching caterpillars turn to butterflies.

Last September we picked some caterpillars from the garden. 
We kept them in our butterfly garden, bought from a couple of years ago. 
We fed them fresh nasturtiums everyday. 
8 days later we had our first chrysalis, we were so excited!
All winter we've waited patiently. 
I read up on 'over-wintering'. 
We kept the cage high up in our dining room, occasionally bringing it down and giving the netting a poke, watching the chrysalis do a teeny tiny wiggle, thus confirming it was still alive in there.
A couple of weeks ago a butterfly emerged! We fed it some sugar water from a plate before releasing it. 
But we still had our first chrysalis. 
We've waited some more. Just yesterday I wondered about moving the cage outside into the fresh air, but hadn't quite got around to it.
Then this morning, we spotted the butterfly emerging slowly out of that first chrysalis. We watched it wiggle out, wings curled up, slowly unfurling them, sitting there drying its wings before taking its first flaps. 
It was fascinating! 
And the most amazing of all - we worked out it had been in chrysalis form for a massive 259 days! Awesome!!

Monday, 22 June 2015

The great outdoor wk 24 and 25: 27hrs 15

The last 2 weeks have been a bit hard because chicken pox has hit the household, limiting where we can go. We've harvested our first fruits from the garden and allotment, the strawberries as always are a winner and we have lots this year as the plants establish in the garden. Hopefully next year we'll have even more on the allotment too! 

The kids have really come in loads in their cycling ability. Eden's learnt to push off by herself and Asher's learnt to whizz along instead of walk his balance bike. 

We've also managed some fun times at the parks with friends, inbetween bouts of infectious chicken pox! 

We have at least another week ahead at home, as Asher now has chicken pox. Fortunately the kids are loving the garden which helps a lot. 

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Down the allotment we are harvesting...

Gooseberries and rhubarb. We popped to the allotment this morning as another excuse to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. Our rhubarb plot is on it's third year now, and it's really taken off! We have far more than we can eat or even freeze! We've tried a few different recipes to the standard rhubarb crumble, the highlight definitely being rhubarb ice cream! Today I cut the rhubarb patch back a lot, leaving only the smallest, thinnest shoots on each plant. I wonder if it will encourage even more growth this year or not? 

Last year we planted a few gooseberry bushes, given to us as cuttings from another plot holder. We harvested a small handful this time last year. Today, Eden really enjoyed the task of picking the gooseberries (despite it being a prickly job!). We picked from just one bush, with more than enough to make a gooseberry fool for tea later. Looking forward to more gooseberries over the next week or two and much like for the rhubarb, I need to research some different recipes to make use of them! 

Rockpooling at Crackington Haven

During our holiday last week in Cornwall, we spent an afternoon at Crackington Haven beach. I have fond memories of this beach from growing up. Running from the top of the beach all the way down to the sea is a fast-flowing stream. My siblings and I spent many a happy hour as children sailing boats, building dams and finding the fastest route for boat races! 

To the left of the beach at low tide is a fantastic collection of rock pools. We took our fishing nets and scrambled among the rocks looking for interesting catches. 

I was so chuffed to find 2 crabs, one of which I spotted scuttling through the seaweed. We filled a couple of buckets with water and were able to get a close-up look at them. Later, we identified that these were shore crabs, the most common type of crab in the UK, recognisable by the 'teeth-like' edging along their shell. A great entry for our nature journals! 

Here's our beautiful boy Viking, happy in the sunshine on the beach! 

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

The Great Outdoors wk 23: 27 hours

A fantastic week of fresh air spent in Cornwall! The weather started pretty badly - with weather warnings for rain and strong winds! Despite this, we started off our holiday with a lovely nature trail walk close to where we were staying and mostly under the shelter of trees. 
The weather picked up by mid-week, and we enjoyed lots of outdoor time at The Eden Project, a farm park, Tintagel, a couple of national trust properties, and of course, the Beach! 

Visiting Eden Project

We had a great time last week down in Cornwall! The weather at the start of the week was pretty bad. We'd planned to visit the Eden Project on Wednesday and it turned out to be a beautiful day. 

The Eden Project is one of my favourite places ever! I was last there with the kids in September and a visit to Cornwall isn't complete without a trip there in my opinion. The Eden Project first opened in 1999 and I've visited a number of times in the last 15 years, watching it develop, it just keeps getting better! Particularly with having young children now there's loads for the kids to do. If you're thinking of visiting with kids, have a look at the Eden Project website which lists all of the activities the kids can explore. There's also fun activity trails to print off to help kids (and grown ups!) with getting to know more about the plants in the biomes. Asher loved the land train down to the biomes, pulled by a BIG tractor. When we got to the bottom, the first thing he said was 'I want to see the dinosaurs!'. I was so surprised that he'd remembered this from September, although sadly for Asher the dinosaurs weren't there this time for him. 

This time, we had Viking our guide dog puppy with us too. Dogs are allowed on site as long as they're kept on a lead and in the outside spaces. With Viking being a guide dog we could take him into the biomes with us too. The whole day was great training for him, he spent a lot of time lying down, waiting patiently and people watching! I was very proud of his behaviour. 
I can't wait to visit again!