Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Feed the Birds

The beautiful snow arrived at Pickwell on Friday. I know we had less than others, being so close to the sea, but we have really enjoyed it. It does make everything even more beautiful and magical, just like a scene from Narnia! There are some wonderful photos that Susannah took on our facebook page if you would like to see more. The snow is lovely for us, but always makes us mindful of our Pickwell feathered friends who find it tricky to find food.
Molly got this great book by Stephen Moss for her Birthday which we absolutely love (highly recommended for adventurous, nature loving families). There is an enticing trailer for it on you tube.
We have been out spotting birds in the snow with the aid of the 'guide'. We have a little Wren that flutters around the herb garden that we can watch from the kitchen window and also a Wagtail, who sits on our sill, that we are particularly fond of.
So in light of the challenging conditions, we decided to make some 'fat balls' from a recipe in the book as a special treat to feed the birds.
We didn't have any coconut shells to hand so searched in the garden for pine cones to fill instead. The fat and seeds can collect really nicely into the cone and it gives the birds something to hold onto. First Millie-Grace melted some lard in a pan.
Then we stirred in the seed.
There was however, rather a horrible smell to the melted lard, which was particularly difficult for Molly who is a vegetarian!  She decided to sellotape her nose to escape from the smell! Since making our 'fat ball' lots of people have suggested just mashing the lard and seed together to avoid the smell. We are definitely going to do that next time!!
We then spooned the mixture onto the pine cones....
and left them to cool and harden.
All ready to hang on the tree.
Ta da!!! Lunch is served birdies!
We have put lots of bird boxes around the Pickwell woods to encourage nesting.
I wish we had put a little camera in them, I would love to see if anyone is in there.
Believe it or not this unsuspecting mound of old wood has a hedgehog house under it. We are hoping it has a sleeping hedgehog in it too, shhhhhh!!
So just enough time to play in the snow before it all melts. I wonder what she is making??
And Zac??
Surprise, surprise, a snow man!! Cute!!
A balancing thing?! And then....
a snowman....maybe a slightly muddy Scout sort of snowman!!
All the while Mrs Blackbird was hopping about us until....
Mr Blackbird came along singing at the top of his voice and they frolicked around the garden. Here they are on the roof, courting perhaps? A bit early, I know, but the start of spring is most definitely in the air!!
We hope that our Pickwell guests will enjoy our amazing wild birds from Owls, to Robins, Buzzards to Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, all frequent visitors to the garden. For the younger visitors there is a 'spotter back pack' in the games room complete with binoculars, spotter sheet, bird book and clipboard. Happy spotting Pickwellers and here's to lots of garden adventures in 2013!!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Heddon's Mouth

In the winter, if the sun is shining you have to be outside.

It was so lovely on Saturday, that we got together with our friends, drove 30 minutes to the edge of Exmoor and rediscovered one of our favourite walks.

It is a gentle and scenic walk of about 25 minutes each way. The walk follows this rushing river 

which leads you to Heddons Mouth -a beautiful wild and rugged beach that can only be accessed on foot.

It has now become tradition to take stuff to make a fire and a big bag of marshmallows to toast over it. 

In fact, I think that's the kids favourite bit.

This is the sound. It is only after you have left that you realise your sore throat is due to you shouting for 2 hours!

 While the kids toast, we make our own fun...

Dave found this unusual stick so hey presto! Game no.1, can you throw the stone through the hole without knocking Jacs unconscious?

Game no.2, what has Mark found? Is it just a big piece of driftwood? 

Nope, its a GIRAFFE! (He was so proud of this)

Game no.3, Can you get across the torrent of water without getting wet? Of course New-Zealand Dave made it...

Err, Steve where are you going? Its the OTHER WAY!

Bottled it.

Mark tried but I don't have a memory of him making it?

Dave entertained us from the other side of the water by creating this sculpture from the washed up debris.

So, game no.4, was trying to knock it down with pebbles.

Game no.5, introduced by the more genteel Ben, started like this...

Then progressed to this..

and once the kids cottoned on, they popped up 


Kieran even began his own 'extreme' pebble piling. It didn't last long..

I'm still unsure as to who did these...but i have my suspicions...Ben?!

This is what happens when you ask a couple of pre-teens to pose for a photo!

 The incredible hulk has nothing on Zac.

So, if ever you were to think life was a bit dull in you can THINK AGAIN!

Oh yes. You can keep your cinemas and theatres and restaurants and funfairs and beautiful parks and amazing coffee shops . We got it going on here.  

(We had fun anyway!)

For more on this walk, you can see another blog post from last year