Seaside memories – help the National Trust celebrate caring for our coast!

Sand between my toes, shivering (and slightly terrified!) in the waves and enjoying a fast-melting ice cream – just a few of my cherished childhood memories of seaside holidays! This year, The National Trust is celebrating 50 years of caring for the coast with the Coastal Festival. It is collecting stories from people who love the coast and are asking them to take part by answering seven coastal questions and then posting their answers on their blog or Facebook page.

So, here are my seven answers.

Teignmouth Beach… complete with groynes!1. What’s your favourite beach?

Now remember we are talking about British beaches here, I will pipe down about Caribbean sand(!). I think my favourite has to be my closest as that’s where we have built so many memories. Teignmouth beach has a lovely long promenade and so has been useful for newly walking babies, elderly folks who can’t walk far and dogs that need to use up some energy!

2. Sea or sand?

I like damp, firm sand, but the kind that gets in your sandwiches … mmm not so much! So I’ll go for sea.

3. Tell a memory of being by the sea.

I have happy memories of my girls playing on the beach but the most amusing was probably Emily when she was little, bouncing along the beach with Richard until they got to a wooden breaker water – I think the official name is groyne … but anyway a strip of wood that runs up the beach to help keep the sand in place etc. They were both running and jumping, they ran up to it, jumped over it … but, unfortunately, the level the other side was three feet lower and it was full of water … so they had an early bath that day!

Ah, the good old 99!4. What’s your favourite seaside food?

Favourite seaside food … ooh what to choose? Fish and chips or a 99…? Hard choice, can I have one of each please? 

5. Favourite ice cream flavour?

As this is talking about the seaside I will restrict the range to choose from (ie skip all the Ben and Jerry ones on my list!) and I would say coffee followed by chocolate – but to be honest, if you are offering I’ll be thrilled with any of them

6. Have you lived by the sea?

Does three miles from the beach and one mile to a panoramic vista across the coast count? I would love to live actually on the edge of the beach (assuming I had double glazing) I think a sea view is wonderful.

Fossils on fascinating Lyme Regis beach.7. Favourite place on the coast?

I chose Teignmouth for my favourite beach so I don’t think I would choose it a second time and I would probably opt for Lyme Regis as there are such exciting fossils to entertain the children with – happy memories.

I’d love to hear your memories too, and so would the National Trust! It asks that you take part now with 7 questions tag – coast facts. Post with answers on your blog or Facebook page and then tag 7 friends or bloggers. 





Ponies with love

The horses on this card are from our Giordano cardmaking pad. If you have a horse lover in the family then it’s very safe to make them a card, any card, with something horse related! My elder daughter Pippa is a horse fan, whether she will transfer that love down to little Grace, my granddaughter, remains to be seen but Grace is already very keen to go and watch the “Clip-clops”. As she is only 18 months I worry she will be riding before she is five!

The lovely lace ribbon along the left-hand side is from our Signature range of dies – Annabel Lace Border – very useful and such a pretty embellishment.

There are lots of different animal paintings featured in the Giordano pads (there are two) so why not go and have a wander through and see what there is?

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Miniature ponies – maximum fun!

Top to bottom: Eros the baby donkey, getting hands on with a tiny foal, Professor Bumble in action, a pony ride – of course! – and the pony drive at the end of the day.The school summer holidays will soon be upon us and it’s always tricky to think of ways of keeping children and grandchildren amused. If you are fortunate enough to be visiting this part of the world, then I can highly recommend a trip to the Miniature Pony Centre, just outside Moretonhampstead.

I took my eldest daughter there, many years ago now, and she loved it so much, she wanted to move in! I recently visited again with a friend and her eight-year-old… and I can confirm it is just as much fun as I remembered!

Small or baby animals are always going to be a hit with children, but at the Miniature Pony Centre, they seem to have a knack of making it extra special. Children (and parents) can have lots of ‘hands on’ time with all sorts of animals, from foals to lambs to pigs and more. ‘Eros’ the baby donkey was an absolute delight, utterly cuddleable and with the softest fur (do donkeys have fur?!) you can imagine, and so gentle! The children can get right in among the donkeys and ponies in the barn area, or out in the fields. A pony ride was also on the agenda and the staff are all friendly and knowledgeable.

An added bonus was an excellent children’s entertainer, Professor Bumble, who kept around 30 children utterly enthralled for over half an hour… which left plenty of time for we adults to enjoy a coffee in the very pleasant café! I’d give the Professor a gold star as he juggled, rode a unicycle, made animals out of balloons, performed magic and told jokes endlessly, with all the children ranging in age from about two to 12, genuinely captivated. Talented chap!

We didn’t manage to get to the bottle-feeding session as we were too busy petting a lamb, but instead ended up in the ‘Fort Bovey’ – a sort of indoor assault course that meant going up a climbing wall, down a slide and through various tunnels again and again and again – you have so much energy when you are eight!

At the end of the afternoon, as ice creams were being consumed, we all lined up and shouted and clapped to drive the ponies out of the field and up into the main barn for feeding. This was great fun as the ponies (who know perfectly well where they are going!) all go cantering past at speed to the delight of the watching, and squealing, children!

When asked what she had enjoyed the most, our eight-year-old guest said simply ‘Everything!’ Now you can’t ask for any more than that, can you?


Knitted granny square card

I just had to share this card with you all! It was sent to me by Sylvie Ashton who helps us design the lacier dies, Andy Carolan is the other part of our team but he is in charge of the less feminine choices!

What we were thinking about in designing the knitted square die was the brightly coloured squares many grandmothers knit to make blankets. The idea being you can run this through your machine using multiple colours and make your own miniature granny blanket!

Sylvie has taken this one step further and has used the die to cut felt instead of card and it gives this wonderful, almost knitted look, so much fluffier than card!

It’s a very simple card to make, the most important thing is to carefully remove the centrepiece of each square so that when you glue them on the card you can pop a different coloured middle into each square. The edging along the bottom is also cut out of felt – this uses the Harriet lace edger die.

One last point, Sylvie cut this on a Vagabond machine, if your machine is very old and worn as for example some trusty Cuttlebugs are, you might find cutting felt a little more challenging. I cut some using my Grand Calibur and that was fine. 


Mother’s Day flowers

I thought you might like to see my Mum’s Mother’s Day offering. When you get pretty immobile then large arrangements of flowers can be a bit of pain. My mother adores flower arranging, but sadly can’t let go of her frame to do much these days, so small is good.

This year I tried really hard to find a pretty flowered jug, unbreakable in case she decides (unwisely but stubbornly) to carry it across the room. The flowers are all small, to stay in proportion with the jug and spray roses and freesia both smell lovely too.

So I took it in to her and yes, I got full marks and she has it on the coffee table next to her all day. Often large and expensive bouquets are meant as a sign of generosity, but for anyone that is unwell (or has just had a new baby!) or elderly, then often small and gorgeous is so much more acceptable than huge and ‘where the heck can I put this’.