First of all a big happy birthday to Louis - 2 today!
Just returned from a delightful stay in our house in Wales with Isabella (who's seven) and Ava (five). They hadn't visited for two years, so we were really looking forward to reintroducing them to life in the country. Of course they brought along all the usual electronic paraphernalia which plays a big part in the lives of today's kids, but I'm pleased to say they were so engrossed in other things that they never came out of the bag - despite the fact that we don't even have a TV!
|Izzi with a completed loom band bracelet in the den|
I'd forgotten how much you can get done when you get up at 7.30am, which is at least an hour before my preferred rising. By nine o'clock we'd made veggie jellies and these four little cakes were out of the oven: Isabella's two apple cakes and Ava's chocolate twirl cake and jam cake.
While we were baking, P was busy making a den in the barn garden. Felix was also staying - great as we hadn't seen him since his return from a trip to South America for the World Cup. While the girls were busy making loom band bracelets in the den, we sat outside with coffee in the sun. The garden was humming with insects - a relief, I was beginning to think the butterflies had given up this year as we've seen very few.
|A little bit of sun brings all the butterflies out -|
they just love verbena bonariensis
|Ava doing some training for future Glasto appearances :)|
Both girls are keen on the guitar and Isabella was keen to learn something new so I started to teach her Elizabeth Cotten's Spanish Flandang, a good starter tune in open G. Before too long she'd remembered it all - just a little more practice on the two-finger chord and she'll be playing it like a pro!
|Izzi practising Spanish Flandang|
|We lived in the garden flat of the second house from the right|
When our own kids were small we spent a happy year living in Aberaeron, so it was lovely regaling the girls with stories about our time there.
|Inside the shelter|
|Uncle Filo perched precariously on the low beach wall|
|It felt so cold that I gave my fleece to the girls - one arm each!|
|Waiting for our boat|
|Little quay where we got on the boat|
|On the boat|
As the sea was still a bit choppy, the captain decided we should stay in the bay where it's always calmer, even though there are usually more dolphins on the other side of the headland. So sadly, although we were out on the water for 90 minutes, no dolphins were seen, but the girls seemed perfectly happy and even excited when they got the chance to hold a lobster and stroke a prawn!
Back on terra firma, it was time for chips and ice-cream on the quayside, while we got our landlegs back.
After such a full day, next morning we thought it best to stay at home and chill out. So it was cozzies on and a walk down the lane for a paddle in the stream.
|Arlo came too|
|Arlo leading the way back home|
Later, time for a nature ramble up to Toej and Wyck's home, where the girls were entertained by Wyck's friendly wild birds. Robins, finches, blue and great tits flew onto his hand to eat the sunflower seeds he offered.
After a quick lesson with several attempts at keeping her hand really still, Ava succeeded in getting the bird!
I'm always so envious of Toej and Wyck's beautiful mophead hydrangeas - they're the most fabulous blue and I must remember to get a cutting.
|I love late summer when the hydrangeas are in full swing|
- these are lace-caps from our garden
|Welsh dragons - Dylan and Dilys|
On the way back we stopped at Ian Snow in Machynlleth. Always a favourite shop for visitors as it's colourful and quirky and has lots of unusual treats for both young and old. The girls enjoyed twirling their parasols outside the shop alongside this rickshaw and found lots of little things inside to spend their pocket money on.
Life in the country with no neighbours gives you a bit more licence to make a noise, so on our last night the speakers were out on the terrace, the chimonea was lit and we all had supper outside.
Sky lanterns have come in for a lot of adverse publicity recently, about how they can potentially harm both wildlife and livestock. I'd decided not to buy any more, even tho the ones we were buying were said to be safe - eco-friendly with no wires. However, when we found we still had an open packet, I'm afraid I weakened in my resolve and the girls were treated to a grand finale of a succession of three sky lanterns. I was relieved to see them float west, out towards to sea!
On the morning we were leaving we asked the girls to write something in the house diary. It had been a whirlwind few days, and we hoped the girls had enjoyed their stay. Their lovely comments made all our efforts worthwhile - come back soon you two!