Ice Ice MILK Baby!

Get yourself down to Pamphill Farm shop and visit the milk vending machine. It’s tastes amazing AND you will feel good by reducing your plastic waste! WIN WIN

ladies cows

Today Freddie and I took a drive to Pamphill, Wimborne after a friend of mine mentioned yesterday that there is a milk vending machine there, and not just any old milk….cold, fresh and free range milk. I was intrigued. A milk drive through… Perfect! The little man is moving onto cows’ milk and what better possible introduction than with milk from local cows (that we can actually see in the field) and from a traditional family farm in the heart of Dorset.

The milk is produced in the Allen Valley surrounding Wimborne and Pamphill and the farm is based on the National Trust’s Kingston Lacy estate. The free ranging Friesian herd graze on lush pastures surrounding the farm for as many months of the year as possible and all calves are reared by the family themselves as well as feed for the cattle being grown on the farm too.

What made today even better, not just the fact that the milk tasted AMAZING but the fact that when we arrived the farmer himself was there too! So we had a first hand demonstration on how to use the machine and it was easy peasy!

  1. Make sure you have at least two pound coins with you as the machine only takes pound coins.
  2. Put the first £1 into the slot on the left. Press the button above and the bottle will be dispensed with lid attached. Do not despair though,there are extra lids available in a tub on the top of the machine.
  3. Open the door and place the bottle at a slight angle underneath the dispenser
  4. Put in your pound coin on the right and then press the start button and watch the creamiest milk ever flow into your bottle.
  5. The machine will automatically stop when bottle is full.

And that is it!

The vending machine is open 24 hours a day so there is no excuse to ever run out of milk plus with reusable glass bottles available from the vending machine as well, you will always be able to take your milk home.

This is a great way to avoid using plastic and to really help the environment plus great to know we are helping the community too.

Allen Valley Milk is certainly a hit in our household and I am sure I am not the only one!

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mmmmooo

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.

curly sheep

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

 

 

If you go down to the woods today….

You’ll find the most amazing mum, baby and toddler group called…

BUSH BABIES

bush babies

Before we even moved to Dorset I was trying to find out as much as I could about the area from our home in Kent. I googled, and trawled through Facebook hoping to find some mum and baby groups we could go to so I could make friends and get out the house with Freddie and explore our new home turf.  The first Facebook page I found was Bush Babies and I am so glad I did. Not only do we have fun twice a week in the woods (if we can get ourselves out and ready in time) but I have also made some lovely new friends! Yay!

Bush Babies is a truly brilliant mum, baby and toddler group set up by Rosie and her band of merry helpers. Nestled in the heart of the Dorset’s magical woodland, just outside the village of Durweston, (near Blandford) it takes place every week on Tuesday and Friday mornings, whatever the weather! The session runs from 9:30am – 12:00pm.

The founder, Rosie has a huge passion for outdoor learning, wildlife, plants and adventures and having just completed her Forest School Course, she is perfectly placed to play, explore and educate our Bush Babies in Mother Nature’s own playground.

the living classroom.jpg

The morning begins at The Living Classroom, an area which has approximately 30 acres of mixed, broad-leaved woodland known as Bonsley Wood. At the classroom base there are toilets, water and power so this is where everyone gathers for a morning cuppa and chitchat around the fire. There is usually an activity for the kids to get stuck into to keep mayhem at bay;  today it was Mother’s Day card making and last time I visited the children were having fun with shaving foam on the table for a sensational sensory experience. I am usually a late arrival to the morning meet up so I have to say I usually miss this party… I’m getting a reputation! Then, coats are fetched, wellingtons put on over the top of waterproof all in one overalls, mothers gather their offspring; some plonked into rucksacks or baby carriers and some brave mothers bring their off road pushchairs. Then once everyone is decked out in their outdoor gear, the Bush Babies then take to the forest path for an adventure into the wildwood. It is good to know for those with little legs and the sleep deprived parents, that the walk is a perfect distance, so there are rarely any melt downs or ‘walk refusers.’ Plus, it is a  looped walk so you can’t get lost and you can easily find your way back to base!

owlLC

During the woodland wander the children are set mini tasks to fill their buckets with discovered woodland treasures, depending on the season, such as leaves,  flowers, moss twigs, bugs etc. The children stop to explore, watch, see and hear all the nature around them and are encouraged to keep their eyes open for new discoveries. They build dens, hunt for bugs and plants and bird-watch, socialising and roaming with freedom in a safe woodland environment with the supervision of multiple adults.

Then it’s back to HQ for a rest. Rosie and Co. provide a drink and snacks for the little ones (you can bring your own if you prefer) and another hot beverage for the adults with the occasional cake and biscuits as standard. The session then comes to a close with either a story or a cacophony of nursery rhymes and songs are sung in a circle whilst playing a range of musical instruments sat on tree stumps. It really is glorious!

Depending on who turns up each session activities are tailored to suit all ages. Everyone is welcome 3 weeks – 3 years and there is even Bush Buddies which happens during the school holidays for the older children too.

Honestly, being a new mama to the area has been made so much easier by these ladies and with no commitment needed it is great to know you’ll meet lots of new and interesting people each time you visit.

 

3 reasons why I love Bush Babies

  1. You can turn up as and when you please  – meaning you don’t have to sign a termly contract and pay upfront
  2. The people are amazing and instantly make you feel welcome and apart of something great.
  3. As a new mama, I have found being outdoors in the fresh air totally invaluable and a great source of therapy in the first few months of motherhood. A walk and a talk is the best medicine.

Hope to see you up at the woods soon  – you never know the bears might be having a picnic too!

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Taming the Beast – Part 2

It was lovely to receive such positive feedback from yesterday’s post so I thought I would keep the ideas coming. As a Primary School Teacher I am always having to conjure up new ideas and so I have devised another list of 10 more ideas to do with the little people during these snow days indoors! Children love to be with their parents and so doing things together when you can, will keep them engaged for a little longer. Obviously this is not always possible but if they are getting a little restless just by doing something together may improve their mood…

  1. Try to make Origami – this site has tons of great ideas. maybe make paper airplanes and have a flying contest…(look out for the plane noses – no one wants pointy paper in their eye!)
  2. Have a ‘Living room workout’  – Get dressed into your sports kits, put one of your exercise videos on and get the kids working out with you too. Personally I would rather opt for the yoga and doing it as a family will at least guarantee time on your mat!
  3. Have a Mary Poppins style cleaning session –  Crank up the radio and have a dance party whilst cleaning the house! It’s a win win situation  – clean house and tired kids! Woop woop!
  4. Design your own Ice Kingdom – children love to use their imaginations so give them some pens and a large piece paper and watch their minds spring into life. Talk to them about what they know about cold places, what might they have in their Ice world and then let them loose with the pens. When they are done get them to explain their new world and talk about it – just listen.
  5. Colouring  – mindfulness for both you and them! A little quiet moment…. if you don’t have any colouring books to hand you can easily print off some things to colour in or even draw your own. Crayola have some here 
  6. Warm up from the inside and make your very own hot chocolate stirrers  
  7. Pom Pom indoor snowball fight – If you are crafty and happen to have a pom pom maker in the cupboard and some white wool (although you could use other colours) make some pom poms  – put them in a bowl/bucket and take it turns to throw them at one another – for the older ones you can add in a point scheme depending on where you hit the other person on the body. I think I’d have a no face policy and obviously clear the mantelpiece/sideboard/table etc. but I’ll leave that to your discretion!
  8. Feed the birds – if like me you worry about the birds during this type of weather then why not help the little birdies out and make them a cake?  This is a great guide from the RSPB and kid friendly 
  9. Make a fairy door to make sure those fairies can keep warm too – everyone knows fairies are not big fans of the cold so why not entice them inside with a beautiful hand crafted door…This lady keeps in simple and hopefully you will have what you need to hand. We do not need to leave the house in this weathe!
  10. Build a lego city – Get out all the LEGO, mini people, trains, cars and other play sets and make a massive indoor carpet city. They will LOVE it!

Have fun and I would love to hear what has worked for you and what you have been up to during these past days.

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Taming the Beast

10 things to do when ‘cabin fever’ sets in – What snow storm?

The ‘Beast from the East’ has certainly made itself known. So, here we are stuck indoors in minus temperatures watching the snowflakes fall outside. The beauty of this winter wonderland is undeniable but who wants to leave the Hygge you’ve created at home? O wait the Utopian Danish dream is quashed as the kids are running round, crying and you have yet to have a warm drink…

The reality of parenting in such conditions is hard and as a new mama not being able to leave the house to go for a walk, see other people (besides my husband and babe) is not the norm and with access to and from the house somewhat like an impassable mountain road (I am exaggerating) I do feel like I could be in one of those Scandinavian crime dramas.

So with hours to be filled I thought I would share a few ideas to keep you sane today whilst the baby naps! Whether you have babies, little or big ones I hope you can find something to inspire you for at least half an hour! Good Luck.

You got this Mama!

SNOW DAY = FUN DAY…….Promise!

  1. It’s time to use those toys from way back when – if you can put them in a big bag or hide them in a sheet and play a guessing game with the older ones and for the little ones just see the joy on their faces of NEW toys!
  2. Forget the laundry  – create your own sensory set up with a variety of fabrics, textures, foil, paper etc. – anything you can find. I raided my craft cupboard and found off-cuts of old clothing (denim, fur and bells are always good) put them in the laundry basket and watch them investigate the goodies.
  3. Make a Den in the living room out of blankets  -because if not on a snowday – when can you?
  4. Put on some great music and DANCE  – I have done this today. The country music radio station was turned on and the sounds blasted through the Sonos as Freddie sucked on toast and I danced whilst I washed up – feel those endorphins!
  5. Have a baby disco – a friend of mine shared her story online and had created an amazing light and sound show  – it was amazing! Rave it up in your PJs!
  6. Have a clear out and donate – {toys, clothes, appliances etc.} I managed to go through some old baby clothes and have already managed to create a gift basket for 2 friends expecting. Get the kids to help or do it whilst the baby sleeps – you’ll feel good for being so productive and for helping others!
  7. Go to the Cinema on the couch  – pop some popcorn and catch up on movies you have yet to see or revisit an old favorite. who doesn’t love to watch Disney movies?!
  8. Get crafty and make a card or two – Mother’s Day is right around the corner so don’t forget your own mama and whilst the kids get messy with glitter glue you can tick another of those to dos off the list! O and playdough is great to get glitter off the table just as an FYI. You could always make Make snowflakes and tape them to the windows.
  9. Read books. This is brilliant thing to do with children of all ages!
  10. Skype or FaceTime Catch up with friends and family you haven’t seen in a while or talk to friends fellow  home-bound friends.