Going Wild

Going wild – a 30 day journey of discovery in the Dorset countryside with mama and baby

The month of June, when summer finally arrives and the countryside is a buzz with nature and the weather entices you outside on a daily basis so what better way than to spend your days outdoors appreciating the beauty of Mother Nature and really enjoying what she has to offer. Having spotted something online about the #30dayswild campaign hosted by The wildlife trusts across the UK, I thought it would be fun to challenge myself and see what I could find and do that involved nature and being outside. It’s hard sometimes to find the motivation to get about and do things especially when you’ve just landed on planet Motherhood but I can not express how therapeutic being outside with your baby is. Not only will you feel great your little one will be encapsulated by nature and experiencing his/her new world first hand with you!

30 days sounds like a long time but it went so quickly and it was amazing some of the things we got up to. Being accountable on social media has its plus points for sure. Mainly it was a chance to really stop and look around and to really see what nature there was right outside our front door, but during the month I realised how much it did for my wellbeing and no doubt little Freddie’s too. He’s always been a lover of the outdoors right from the start when we would go walking everyday and watch the changing of seasons but now, to be able to share in the delights of his surroundings is a real joy. As he is grows, he can now notice the movement of the butterflies cruising from bud to bud and hear the bees buzzing. He loves to watch the trees move in the wind and looks up to see the clouds. I’ve found myself wanting to learn more about what we’ve seen in the hope when he is old enough to ask me “mama, what’s that?” I’ll be able to respond confidently and be able to teach him about the wildlife around us. We’ll see though….

I hope my posts on Instagram might have inspired some of you mamas out there to step outside with your seedlings and share with them the beauty that is all around us, both in cities and in the countryside. I know I’ll be taking part again even if it’s just to nourish the soul. You can find more of my wildlife posts @MrsStrongman. Children remember their experiences, we all love to make memories and so this family is staying wild!

Cows go Moooooooooooo

When the farmer opens his gates to the public, grab the bull by the horns!

Open farm Sunday is a special day in the countryside calendar when farmers open their gates and let the public in! LEAF Open Farm Sunday began in 2006 and since then over 1600 farmers across the UK have flung open their gates and welcomed 2 million people onto their farms.

It is a brilliant opportunity for everyone, young or old to discover what it means to be a farmer, at first hand and to witness the fabulous work they do across the country, producing our food, caring for livestock and enhancing the countryside with all the goods and services our farmers provide.

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Each farm will offer something different and will be based around the farm’s individual story of how they are where they are today. Activities might include a nature walk, tractor ride, demonstrations, local crafts, mini farmers market and plenty of activities for the children.

farmThis was my first year attending. Tom was working so I decided to take Freddie. His great uncle is a farmer so it’s basically in his blood…. so off we went to visit Knife Hill Farm in Winterborne Stickland. What a treat it was. Freddie loves the tractor ride, as did I! There was even a tractor simulator on site, as well as animal petting, milking demonstrations, farming machinery on display and a trusty tractor ride that was a definite highlight for the visitors. There was space for picnics and even though it felt stormy, the rain held off. It felt like a true privilege to be able to explore the farm and hear all about how they farm organically in the heart of Dorset. The farm workers were extremely passionate about their work and it was great for the children to see what happens at Knife Hill Farm, home to 400 cows who graze the grass and clover leys around the dairy. You could even sample the types of products that contain the milk produced by the farms cows. I kept thinking how great it was for the children to be able to see the journey of the milk and begin to understand a bit more about how the milk makes the transition from something that cows produce to products on the supermarket shelves.

Open Farm Sunday runs each year so keep your eyes open in 2019 to find a great farm near you opening it’s barn doors!

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tractor ride
“Cows go MOOOOOOOOOOO!”

Wood fair fun!

An enchanting country fair exposing a creative and skillful country life.

Sunday 20th May, a beautiful day to be out and about in the countryside and attending my first wood fair up at the Living Classroom where we go to Bush Babies. It was put on by the Dorset Coppice Group who are working hard to promote their love of the woodland, share their skills and passions as well as their services. The Coppice group’s aims are:

  • to promote the coppice industry and its products to the public
  •  provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information between members
  •  form a bridge between coppice workers, landowners and other relevant agencies
  •  provide an educational resource for schools and other groups to encourage outdoor learning in The Living Classroom 

And they also provide courses throughout the year for anyone who is interested in learning a new skill, working with wood or who would like to know more about the preservation of craftsmanship.

We arrived early and wandered around the lovely stalls of handmade wooden crafts; from toadstools, bowls, walking sticks, coat hooks and even magic wands made from wood that had been constricted by wild honeysuckle. I certainly learnt a few tricks or two. There were birds of prey perched in the shade and a beautiful working horse demonstrating his use for coppicing. What a treat.

 

 

My highlight though was being front row watching a sparring competition and as a new member of the country community it felt like an initiation! I had no idea what a spar even was before I sat down. But that was all about to change ….

The thatchers taking part in the competition take 28 inch long straight hazel sticks, known as gads which have been cut from the coppice at Bonsley Wood, during the winter time when the sap is low. This allows them to be strong enough to use on the ridging (the top part of the roof to you and I). To make the spar each gad is riven in half by splitting the wood in-between any knots, split down the middle following the natural grain of the wood. They can be split multiple times (fours, sixes, eights) and usually the more times it can be split the more skilled the spar maker. The points at each end are then created using an exceptionally sharp spar hook.

They are then bundled up with a colour tie and can be sold by the thousands to working thatchers.

The thatcher uses spars by double twisting them to form a U shaped peg as Rod Miller described for me “like a hair pin with a smooth edging which will allow the water to roll of it on the roof.” They have to be skilfully twisted, not just bent in half in order to work effectively.

The competition was to see how many spars the thatchers could make in 15 minutes. It was tense. Blazing sunshine in the middle of the day was probably not the best environment for the thatchers but they stepped up to the challenge and stayed professional to the end, each perched on their stool or chair with hooks, thigh pads at the ready. Many different techniques were used to split the hazel, each competitor using their own long standing knowledge of how to work the hazel and their tools.

The winner was Rod Miller, founder of R.V Miller Ltd who very kindly shared his knowledge with me to enable me to write this post. He is Dorset thatcher and member of the National Society of Master Thatchers. His business celebrated 50 years in 2016 and it seemed to me what he doesn’t know about thatching, you don’t need to know!

It felt like such a privilege to be witnessing first-hand something I was so ignorant about. To learn from experts and locals who had travelled from all around to be apart of this local woodland fair was a joy and an absolute pleasure. It has certainly made me want to look more closely at thatched roof houses.

To be apart of something where skilled craftsmen are demonstrating and sharing their love for their livelihoods with the local people is fantastic. We need these trades to preserve our history so the more we know, the more we can hope to understand and try to make a difference. Weirdly, a part of me wants to make my own spar and I have kept one that Rod twisted for me as a momento! I’ve been inspired!

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wood fair 2018

 

 

Nourishment from within

Food – we are spoilt for choice but do we make the right choices?

Food. It can sometimes can be the last thing on your mind post baby and sometimes anything will do for a quick energy boost. I found I went through stages…

Firstly, I remember losing my appetite completely after Baby was born and my mum just handing me egg sandwiches as I fed him, telling me to eat. Let’s just say I was not having a very balanced diet at the beginning of motherhood. I ate what was available and convenient usually toast, chocolate, or cake. I did drink lots of fluids though, but sometimes the water was laced with a lot of Ribena! The sweet syrup that kept me functioning.

Then I got into the rhythm of breastfeeding, a few months in and I drank lots of water. Tick. I had to have a snack every time I sat down with Baby which is surprisingly often….Again I’d have toast and peanut butter or jam and sometimes Nutella (I ate a lot of bread). Other times it was biscuits or chocolate. Mainly biscuits or things I could easily access with one hand!

 

I wasn’t focusing on my body at all- nor did I care if my tummy was a little squishy and my boobs had increased dramatically. I was a new mama and my brain was (and still is) hard wired to look after the little one and I was clearly burning calories like a long distance runner. I walked daily, regularly breastfed and my mind was constantly working overtime running through a million worries every hour.

Then, when I was more settled and got into my groove of being a mama. I grew in confidence to leave the house. I had a packed diary, scattered with baby classes, mummy meet ups, tea and cake with colleagues and I even went to a BYO baby to a comedy show! Every time I left the house I was always up for tea and cake, coffee, biscuits and regularly stopped off to buy more contraband to ensure we were never out of stock back at the ranch! It was like a compulsion, I just had to have something to snack on in the house. I was still breastfeeding though and I truly didn’t care that I might have been piling on the pounds. My amazing body had, for 9 months, been harbouring a little human and it protected, nurtured and provided for him for all that time and it was still doing all that magic now with the added extra of actually making milk and providing all the nutrients he could need. I was in total awe of it. My body changed so perfectly and I loved it….. except I wasn’t treating it with such kindness from the inside.

Which brings me to now… I’m no longer breastfeeding, and my little man is eating me out of house and home (already a typical boy) which means my focus is about ensuring he is getting the best diet possible. I’m still down the pecking order during the day. Not healthy or smart when you need to be on top form as a mama. I do have a healthy meal for dinner with my husband each night but I guess I’ve just lost sight of looking after me and caring for my body as well as my baby’s.

It’s probably fair to say that at some point in our lives we do care about how we look and feel about our bodies and I’ll always remember what my my mother said to me one day when I made a comment about my body shape. She said  “as a woman your body will always been changing. That’s what’s makes women special” and she is so right. I carried this wisdom with me all through my teens, twenties and it’s still true now in my thirties and after growing a baby. I am accepting of my body and much more aware of how it works and have a great respect for it. With the magic of the moon and lunar tides, women’s bodies are continually changing monthly and although I’ve had a baby, I’m still me and I’m proud to have this body. It’s made love, life and birthed a baby and I LOVE it!

So, with all that in mind, I’m choosing to care more and nourish my body from within. Think of it as a form of self- love.

I’m not going crazy, nor is this a strict diet but it’s about being more aware of what I’m consuming and eating the right foods to give me energy and live more healthily. I’ve cut out the unnecessary carbs like bread and cake, thought more about a Paleo diet and ensured I’ve not got the bad stuff actually in the house. I’m tying to go for a jog once a week as well as continuing my yoga practice at home and in class. Plus, I still walk daily with the little one for my well-being.Honestly, time spent outdoors is the greatest therapy.

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The biggest diet change I’ve made is to ensure that I have breakfast. One that is full of goodness and gives me energy! All through my pregnancy I ate breakfast daily and somewhere along the line it slipped. I would head out the door to a Baby class clutching a biscuit as I headed out the door barely drinking my tea!

So mama, here is to re addressing our diets and to caring for the incredible vessel that is the female form. What amazing bodies we have – let’s take care of them from the inside out and nourish them with good food, love and endorphins and maybe a biscuit every now and again!?

OLD ME

CHANGED ME

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I already have more energy just from one simple change of habit by having breakfast packed with super foods. This is my chia pudding breakfast with strawberry soy yogurt topped with granola, raspberries and a drizzle of peanut butter – totally delicious!

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What I’d give a new mum

A couple of my friends are expecting soon and due to our individual geography it is not going to be possible to be there in person, so this blog post is for them and for all those of you about to embark on motherhood for the first time.  I just want you to know ladies I am always at the end of a phone / computer / on WhatsApp / Insta message, whatever time of day or night. This is not to burst your gorgeous pregnancy bubble at all, just to expand your thoughts to after the birth.

With May being Mental Health month and this week focusing on  Maternal Mental health, I thought I could share what I would give a new mum.

One day you were you. A sassy, strong female striding pavements, swishy hair, lush clothes and with your s*** together. (This was never me by the way but you get the gist…) Then one day you go into labour and a little time later you have a tiny human who needs you like no one has ever needed you before and you haven’t yet had time to process this. Your body has been incredible but it is so changed and you don’t recognise yourself. There is no time to process this though as your baby is crying for food and you are figuring out how to attach this little bundle of flesh to your boob. Why am I struggling? This is something I thought would just happen. Isn’t it the most natural thing in the world? Ouch it hurts, am I doing it right? What do I do now? How do I know when to feed him? When do I change him? How will I know he is full? When should I put him down? Should I just keep him close? What if he gets cold? How will I know? Does he know who I am? Is this love I’m feeling? Why am I so anxious? Why am I feeling full of worry? Your body is awash with a cocktail concoction of hormones and you suddenly realise life will never be the same again.

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My gift to you is COURAGE…

COURAGE to realise you won’t know everything at first and you will be learning continuly but it does get easier and you are doing a great job so far.

COURAGE to ask for help when you need it, you will need it and ask for lots! There is no shame in this!

COURAGE to make mistakes and then to be kind to yourself when you make them. We all do and you need to be kind to yourself. Without making mistakes we can’t learn so embrace them. There is a lot of adjusting to do.

COURAGE to accept you will feel differently on different days. Some will be really tough and other days will be dreamy. It’s all part of the ebb and flow.

COURAGE to appreciate that babies have their own agenda and you won’t always be able to tell their cries apart (took me nearly 6 months) they won’t always sleep when you want them too and sometimes they will just be uncomfortable.

COURAGE to trust yourself and your body. You know you and you know your baby plus your baby knows who you are. He/She heard your heartbeat as they grew safe in your womb and you’ve already been getting to know each other for 9 months. Have confidence in Mother Nature, she knows her s***.

COURAGE to believe whatever you are feeling (happy, sad, lonely, overwhelmed, discouraged, scared, excited, overjoyed, delighted, fretful, anxious, calm) will pass and it will be OK.  There were times I cried ALL day and was overwhelmed with a mixture of intense emotions and other days I was a bag of happiness. It can be frightening but embrace it, you have just performed a total miracle and sometimes there are no words to express how we feel.

COURAGE to step outside into the big wide world with the most precious thing you own and get a few breathes of fresh air every day. This is such a good remedy and I walked everyday with Freddie.

COURAGE to say no to visitors if you are feeling overwhelmed but COURAGE to have visitors too to help you and make you a cup of tea! Most will bring cake or biscuits some might even bring a roast chicken!

COURAGE to rest and take time to sleep during the day when baby is napping (20 minutes is better than nothing) and your baby will be fine with his/her dad or other family members. You need to recharge your energy levels and let your body heal.

COURAGE to try different things to help you be the best mum you can be. Dummies, and formula milk are not the devil’s work  – there is a reason why supermarkets have aisles of the stuff!

COURAGE to talk to other mums and be open. Listen to their experiences and share your own. It takes a village. Have the COURAGE to listen to yourself over anyone else and COURAGE to do things differently. Do what works for you.

COURAGE to step out of the room and take a couple of deep breaths. I used to hum as the vibrations helped to calm me (its a yoga trick). 10 long seconds could be all you need to relax those shoulders and gain composure.

COURAGE to love yourself. You are the most important person to your baby so self-care is paramount.

COURAGE to know that you are enough.

“You got this mama!”

You are Queen of your own Kingdom!

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The Hospital bag

What you REALLY need to pack …

So, when I was pregnant with Freddie I must have packed my hospital bag about 10 times. It felt like a ritual and a very important one. I was packing a bag for an event that I had never experienced, for a place I’d never been to and packing for a person I’d never met. It was weird and in the end I didn’t even need half the stuff as Baby was born on the living room floor!

But you never truly know the course of your birth so here is a list of things I packed and probably would have found very useful! I’ve also been brutally honest as open.

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FOR YOU

  • Those pants! You know the ones I mean… TENA. They will be your best friends right after birth and for a few weeks post baby whilst you heal. Buy more packs than you think you’ll need and trust me its part of giving birth that no one talks about but it’s fine (like a period but different) BUT with everything else going on you just want be prepared and not have to think about an unnecessary leakage.
  • eye mask – for the hospital/birthing centre when you need some zzzzz and it’s the height of sunny summer. Also very very useful when baby is here and you desperately need day time napping but hormones, worry, adrenaline and glaring sunshine prevent that from happening. If you get a silk one that will also add a little extra luxury.
  • comfy comfy floaty leisurewear – to be honest anything that makes you feel cosy is essential to help relax you and gives you a sense of normality!
  • slippers – for those cold toes and protection from the cold floor!
  • moisturiser -face & body kit because we all like our skin to be hydrated, don’t we?
  • face water spritzer – This may seem a little extravagant but I was so hot in August and this was an insant little cool down
  • flannel – they say a warm flannel to your face can calm you – anything is worth a try.
  • book – who knows when you’ll have time to read but you might need a little escapism
  • iPad – for Netflix! This is also an essential tool for when breastfeeding in the depths of night – just make sure you find a good resting place for it or invest in a stand!
  • snacks – I wrote Tom (my husband) a whole list of goodies like nuts/ chocolate/ bananas 🍌
  • a drink  – my beverage of choice was Ribena, full of sweetness and berries and good for a quick sugar/energy rush!
  • A water bottle with a straw – water is the best medicine – easy to sip from and great when breastfeeding and not spilling on Baby
  • lip balm – all that breathing on the gas and air tube thing makes our lips dry.
  • headband/hair tie to keep hair off your face
  • lavender oil is a good relaxer but anything that smells of Home would be good / blanket/ pillow/ pregnancy pillow – comfort is key!
  • phone chargers, phone (obvs) and headphones
  • magazines and music
  • dressing gown (I packed a short one)
  • pjs/ nightie (button down front ones are the best choice made from cotton to keep you cool)
  • comfy knickers – think BIG  – Bridget Jones style super comfy in a size that fits and does not cut in!
  • hairbrush, toothbrush and mascara and concealer just to feel a little more human afterwards. You might want to pack a lovely smelling body wash too and don’t forget the deodorant! Having said that  – looking back I think I just wanted to smell like me at the time to help bond with little one. You don’t know how you’ll feel.
  • nipple cream – I used the Multi-Mam brand and it seems to help but here are a list of others. Personally I am a big fan of the Weleda products so next time I might try that one!
  • Breast Pads – you might not need them and who cares anyway if you hve leaky boobs – it happens but nice to be prepared.
  • clean outfit to wear home – please be comfortable. Your body has done something incredible and it’s needs time to heal. I remember feeling very delicate. I wore my pregnancy leggings and a loose and floaty top with easy access to boobs.

 

FOR BABY

  • 2/3 sleepsuits (onsies)
  • 2/3 vests
  • A small pack of newborn nappies
  • a couple of muslin squares. We used these bibs and I preferred them as they were smaller and very absorbent.
  • A pack of newborn wet wipes (Water Wipes are very good and very gentle – 99.9% water)
  • A hooded baby towel
  • a blanket – one with holes in – they are called Cellular blankets
  • 2 pairs of socks, a pair of scratch mittens (their nails are so sharp and grow really fast)
  • a hat
  • A dummy – I used these but there are other soothers out there so whether you love them or hate them I’d say for your own sanity don’t think of them as the devil!
  • car seat

I know what it’s like  – you want to pack every little outfit you received and all the other lovely things you have bought but your baby will be home before you know it, so try to keep your packing light and only take what you think you and your baby will really need. As you go on the journey you’ll figure out what things you need and you’ll want to have some spare pennies kept aside.

**Top Tip** Pack a separate baby bag for your little one so everything is easy to get hold of and pack your bag with your birth partner so they know where to find everything. It will help when you are desperate for lip balm and you can’t effectively describe what part of the bag it is in it will help!

Ideally you should have your bags packed when you are about 36 weeks but if you are like me you’ll be starting now (even if you are due in August!)edit

And don’t forget your Maternity notes and the camera!

I’d love to know what you packed in your bag or if you have any questions – get in touch onemamskingdom@gmail.com @onemamaskingdom

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Dean’s Court Café & Homestore

A country courtyard café hidden in the heart of Wimborne

I stumbled across this little treasure whilst taking a mini detour around the lovely market town of Wimborne after Freddie and I went to a Baby Sensory class.  It was a little sensory overload for the little man after a fretful night of teething and then being bombarded with sights and sounds loud enough to be heard in the surrounding villages, not to mention all the other babies! So whilst trying to settle my wee babe and wandering the winding streets, I saw a beautiful sign pointing me in the direction of Deans Court, a little path leading off the main road and couldn’t resist.

Deans Court itself is a very elegant and glorious historic house set within ancient gardens with a wealth of history and stature, but in an old converted garage is the gorgeous cafe, nestled within a beautiful courtyard (it is covered in large stone gravel so be prepared for a bumpy ride with the buggy) complete with a vintage home store in the adjacent 1930’s squash Court.  The shop sells a large selection of vintage and contemporary lifestyle products sourced from all over the world and is worth a peak before or after-lunch! Perfectly placed plants add the finishing touch to the setting for a picturesque alfresco dining experience this spring/summer. You could be fooled into thinking you were in the south of France with the nod to vintage home-ware in every corner both inside and out.

Each morning the Café receives fresh home-grown produce from Deans Court kitchen gardens and serves a selection of healthy, wholesome and delicious food. There is also a large selection of teas, coffees and fruit juices.

 

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Inside, there is a lovely atmosphere. The interior is an eclectic mix of old and new with a  country kitchen mixed with Parisien Chic style. Mis-matched chairs and tables fill the space, each table is adorned with beautiful flowers and fairy lights add to the enchanting charm. A true gem of a find. The ladies serving were delightful, wonderfully chatting and Freddie seemed to be charming them a treat!

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There was no problem bringing in Freddie and the pram, there are no highchairs but that might be a consideration in the future and there was no problem providing hot water to help me warm up Freddie’s food. The best part was that the lovely ladies even complimented me on my yoga dungarees that I was wearing and even discussed the possibility of a new uniform! Who would have thought that my @satyayogawear might be considered work wear!

The cafe is open Monday to Saturday, 10am – 5pm (cafe closes at 4pm)

Enquiries & Booking: 01202 639249

More information can be found here on the website and Deans Court garden will be open for the National Garden Scheme with teas coffees and lunch available at the Café.

Monday, 21st May & 19th June | 11:00 – 17:00
Adults £4; Concessions £3
Well-behaved dogs on leads welcome

 

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