Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Our local school and Zac's birthday

Our Pickwell children have the most wonderful school. It is just a mile away in our nearest village. We recently went to their harvest service in the village church and
Pickwell featured quite heavily. Rich and Liza were volunteered (well, forced in poor Richard's case) to make the word harvest, then jumble the letters around to spell lots of different words that harvest encapsulates, like 'starve' and 'share' for example. Then the whole school sang a song which included a verse our Molly had written about vegetables- brilliant!
Another thing they do is when the children go in to year 4, they go along to the village 'community tea' after school. Here, they share what they are doing at school to the more elderly folk of the community.
I went along as it was Zac's first time and oh my goodness it was so moving! You could really see how much it meant to the men and women at the tea. The children were amazing too, each taking it in turn to read something they had written. We love stuff like this.
They also had a luchtime last week where all the parents were invited to come in and eat with their children and play in the playground with them afterwards.
Then a letter came home that on Zac's birthday (and it was also Zac's friend, Teddy's birthday too) they were taking the top half of the school to the beach for the day as part of their pirate topic. We agreed with them that they could make a shortcut through our grounds.
This is when we hatched a plan. We rallied together as many parents as possible and began to plan our ambush! Well, it was Zac's birthday and we thought it would be good to give him something he wouldn't forget...
Steve waited by the start of the drive and hid behind a stone pillar. We could hear the screams from where we were hiding at the far end in the woods!
Frankly, i'd be running in the opposite direction if this face leapt out at me.
We ran between the trees as they approached and then Richard grabbed the headmaster and after throwing him over his shoulder, we tied him to a gate.
We made the headmaster (this is not the headmaster btw!) answer three pirate jokes if he wanted to be freed. Sadly we didn't get much support on this from the kids, until the wise and cunning man, fessed up that he had a rucksack full of gold chocolate coins which they would only receive if we let him go!
On their way back through they stopped to drop Zac and Molly off, they sang 'happy birthday' and we handed out cakes (made by Teddy's mum) and sweets to give them the energy to get them back to school.
Zac said that it had been his best birthday ever and that was due, in part, to his brilliant presents.
I asked him to take them to his room because if he left them on the table, the builders might play with them. After he had left for school, i found this..
On the evening of Zac's birthday we had our usual Pickwell Friday Tea with the Elliotts (and Martin our joiner friend who works out of one of our garages) and afterwards the girls produced a special birthday show.

A great birthday for a wonderful 9 year old boy x

Saturday, 15 October 2011

apple press day

For the last three years our dear friends Sarah, Ben, Daisy and Milly, open up their home and ancient apple press for a real community day of apple pressing. Today was that day.
Sarah and Ben live in a gorgeous old farm house
and it creates the perfect back-drop to the whole experience.
Its always in October and for some reason, the sun is always shining on this day.
First, Sarah's dad looks through the apples and checks whether there are any that are too far gone to be consumed.
Next, we wash the apples.
Then we give them to Chris who puts each one through the 'mulcher' (not sure that's the technical term).
Zac carrying the mulch to the press.
The base of the press is concrete (i think). On top of that is a wooden, lattice layer, then a sheet of hessian which is filled with the 'mulch' of apples. There are six or seven of these layers which go in each 'pressing' session.
Steve and Rich put lots of effort into winding down the press which squeezes down onto the apples and brings out gallons of gorgeous juice.
The juice is then poured into a giant container and decanted (in this case by Ben and his dad) into..
Empty milk cartons. Hundred's of them! This was just the first three.
While Zac played in the stream..
our girls spent all day 'hanging out', drinking apple juice and generally having a great time.
There is always an amazing spread of food.
Everyone seems to arrive with a cake (many with an apple theme)
and Sarah and Ben cook their own pig for hot pork rolls.
There is pork, cheese, and apples everywhere you look.
I have heard a rumour that Richard is cooking a mulled apple juice recipe for tonight as we are going to a camp fire at another friend's house. I am very excited to try it. I think Tracey will post the recipe in a couple of blog posts time so watch this space!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

M and M's Wedding

What a weekend to have a wedding. Who would have thought we would have a heat wave at the beginning of October? Well, it really was a gorgeous wedding and not just because of the weather. Mathew and Marianne have such wonderful friends who rallied around to help make it such a brilliant weekend.

The flowers were by Derryn at Twigs Florist, Barnstaple. These fantastic urns really set off the entrance to the ballroom.

These beautiful arrangements were the central feature of the tables. With the eucolyptus they smelt wonderful.

The bridesmaids and their husbands spent all of Thursday making these delicious cupcakes as the wedding cake and tiny cupcakes for the wedding favours. Each cake had an M and M to decorate the top, cute. The boys in particular showed quite a flare for icing and even became quite possessive over the task!

The boys play a morning game of cricket in the sunshine on the tennis court to calm the nerves.

Also to calm the nerves the ushers requested a pint of Doom bar for the groom. One of the lovely ushers took this photo of Richard spiking the keg. I was holding the towel to guard the wall from beer spray, however it leapt over the towel and drenched me in Doom bar, giving me the faint aroma of a street drinker, mmmm nice!! Oh how he laughed!!

I loved the groom’s button hole, well done Derryn.

mmm, delicious canapés.

Not forgetting the 'gluten free' guest who had her own specially prepared canapés, she was ever so pleased.

Dinner is served; I loved the look of the vegetarian starter.

The bridal bouquet in a vase on the sideboard made a stunning statement in the hall.

It was a truly magnificent day celebrating love, friendship, food and family. The evening was topped off with delicious bacon rolls, cooked in the candle lit courtyard by Lee (Chef) on the BBQ. Who can resist the smell of sizzling bacon......Mouth watering! Then they danced the night away to their great band, the lead singer of which was Marianne's very talented friend from university.