Autumn is here! And so is the ubiquitous start of term cold. So I’m writing with a slight shiver and a very runny nose. I guess it’s time to pack in some extra vitamins, early nights and invest in a couple of lovely organic, fair-trade hankies. I haven’t had a hankie since I was at junior school, more specifically in my “be prepared kit” in the Brownies. I need to look into this sharpish. For the moment, I have toilet roll and old baby muslin cloths. Talking schools, the Big One has started school. And is settling in remarkably well. This has been a huge relief to all concerned. Drop off and pick up still feels emotionally precarious and I don’t think it will necessarily be plain sailing for a while yet, but I think the getting on with it aspect has soothed most starting school anxieties that had built over the summer holidays; on all sides. I’m very proud that my little Big Girl has taken to school like a duck to water and I definitely should’ve invested in a handkerchief before the start of term. There have been a lot of tears – wistful, proud, sad and happy. What a lot of mixed emotions.
So, with the Big One safely at school in the morning, the Little One and I have been left once again to define our days as partners in stay-at-home crime. We’ve been enjoying some scheduled activities and playdates in the mornings and leisurely afternoons at the park. It’s been lovely to spend time together and to really get into the very special, and wonderfully imaginative world of my gorgeous 2.5 year old. I feel very privileged right now. Being a stay at home mum definitely has some very good upsides. The weather over the past week has been picture perfect Autumn. Slightly colder, crisp and sunny. The playground in our village is idyllically situated off of a large recreation ground with huge mature horse-chestnut and oak trees. There is also one of each tree in the playground itself. The trees create an abundance of conkers and acorns at this time of year, perfect for collecting and inspecting with small people.
The Little One has invented her own game called ‘Eggy Conkers’. It’s very simple. Find an “unpeeled” conker, remove the husk, pull out the conker and shout Eggy Conker! We’ve spent several afternoons playing Eggy Conkers and it’s been an absolute joy. We’ve shared it with some similar aged friends, and everyone has enjoyed this simple yet satisfying game. And I must say, it’s kept us entertained and engaged for far longer than any conventional toy we’ve played with recently.
Along with the conker haul, we’re still getting through the apples that we picked the other weekend. This week we’ve made an apple pie and an apple crumble. Both were so delicious that each member of the family had a second helping of both puddings with lashings of custard. And as you can see, there are still heaps of apples left. I’m going to have to get googling for some other cooking apple based recipes.
Scrumptious apple pie, enjoyed by all of the family. And plenty of those cookers left over.
Our kitchen is very much the heart our home. We love cooking, and more specifically eating. Good food is at the centre of our family life. Making the effort to do some “from scratch” puddings after school has also given the Big One and me the perfect opportunity to spend time together reconnecting after a day apart. It’s left the door for conversation firmly open and we’ve whiled away these times chatting about the things we’ve done through the day, whilst brushing up on our cooking skills. I think that cooking is such a sociable and useful pursuit. I love teaching her some very practical life skills, even at the tender age of 4. She gets so much out of it because she really enjoys being given proper tasks. Giving a little person an egg to crack requires patience, practice and a certain tolerance for potential mess but the rewards are simply brilliant when they crack it (sorry!). With the pie, she helped roll out the pastry, crack an egg and use a pastry brush to glaze the pastry. She used her legendary “crumble fingers” to mix the flour and margarine for the crumble topping again. It’s also a sure fire way to shoehorn extra fresh fruit into the girls after their dinner at the end of the day. And with all of the winter bugs joining up forces, what better way to try to keep them at bay than with a hearty apple pudding (that’s what I like to tell myself anyway!)