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’.


Potentially harmful garden plants

Top to bottom: Autumn crocus, Lily-of-the-valley, Delphiniums, Lobelia and Chrysanthemums.My granddaughter Grace is really getting the hang of this walking lark! As a typically doting granny, this has set me thinking about her toddling around the garden this spring, with me pointing out my favourite plants. And then, being an eternal worrier, I started thinking about harmful garden plants and whether I ought to start digging things up!

After a quick scoot around the RHS website, I had calmed myself with the knowledge that, fortunately, serious poisoning by plants is very uncommon in the UK. Some garden plants do present a hazard, but the risk of severe poisoning, skin reaction or allergy is low.

So, what are the hazards?
Some plants may cause digestive upset or discomfort if eaten. Obviously, children are most at risk as we adults tend not to go around stuffing garden plants into our mouths or up our noses! A small number of common garden plants are more toxic and could cause severe poisoning. Obvious ones that I think we probably all know include Laburnum, Laurel and Yew. Less obvious nasties include Autumn crocus, Lily-of-the-valley, Delphinium and the innocent looking Bluebell!

Other plants cause problems when in contact with the skin. Irritant sap can cause a burning sensation and sometimes blistering of the skin and anyone can be affected if you get enough on your skin. Some unexpected candidates include Daffodils, Lobelia and Chrysanthemum.

What to do if there’s a problem…
If you think a child or adult has eaten part of a doubtful plant, seek medical advice immediately from a hospital Accident & Emergency department. Do remember to take a sample of the plant with you. Do not panic and DO NOT try to make the person sick!

If you think an animal has eaten a poisonous plant, get them along to the vet as soon as possible and, again, remember to take along samples of the plant concerned.

Better safe than sorry:
Really, as I said at the start, the chances of anyone poisoning themselves in this country are very slight, so please don’t be concerned! In addition, if you follow these few simple guidelines and all should be well!

  • If it is not a food plant, do not eat it!
  • Teach children not to play with or eat growing plants
  • Use gloves when pruning or weeding and keep skin covered
  • Do not leave prunings or uprooted plants in reach of farm animals or pets
  • Check plant labels for toxicity warnings (sometimes stated on label)

Plant poisons information
The RHS website www.rhs.org.uk has an extensive list of harmful plants, so I’d suggest you refer to that if you want to check out your existing plants, or are considering buying new ones, and you have a young child or wayward pet!

For information about particular risks presented by potentially harmful plants, try the following contacts.

RHS Gardening Advice Service – tel: (0845) 260 8000, 10am to 4pm

Kew Gardens – tel: (020) 8332 5000