Sunday, 30 December 2012


Well the big day has been and gone and we did things a little differently around here with a few tweeks on traditions.

Whilst Folly 1 went off to see her friends (including the Boyfriend) the remaining five Follies still did a Christmas Eve walk, though we kept it more local.  This decision split the family in half and I was in the half struggling with change.  The local walk around the village although lovely just did not seem Christmassy enough - until we saw these beauties walking around the farmyard. 

Mr Folly was adamant that nothing could epitomise Christmas more than this.

Another change was attending church on Christmas Eve - something we have not done since having children. There was a 7pm service with lots of carols, a sparkly tree and a nativity scene involving some of the children of the parish. Poor Mary did suffer a crisis with her head-dress at a vital moment but kept her presence of mind and clung on to Jesus!

The predominant theme of presents this year seems to have been scarves which is fine by me.  The Christmas miss of the year was my idea to abandon the Stilton and try a different blue cheese. It seems some traditions just can't be changed!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

A family recipe

Folly 3 has been busy creating with the written word. I think at school the children were given the task of writing a poem in the form of a recipe and so here is her recipe of our  family life.  I don't think anyone could describe families any better than this.

A family recipe

Add arguments and fights to strops and punishments.
Stir in some love and support.
Turn up the heat and add moods, tempers and leave for me time.
Then stir hard while adding laughter and fun.
Then leave to cool.

Note: Warning - if you leave for too long it will become boring and flavourless

Thursday, 6 December 2012

baking's begun

I think it must be the drop in temperature but there's suddenly a demand amongst the Follies for baked treats and munchies. 

 Folly 3 is doing well responding to the daily demands of the household for mince pies and flapjacks. Each time she makes a batch of mince pies I take half away and put them in the freezer for those times when we feel like an afternoon snack and don't have the time or the inclination to bake.  (Unusually organised for me)

I have been cracking on with the Christmas cooking (well yes strictly speaking mince pies are Christmas cooking too) which we won't eat until we have all begun our holidays. So far I have made a traditional fruit cake and have a couple of small Dundee cakes in the oven which might end up as gifts (depending how they turn out).

We have to pick our times of cooking carefully though as we have decorators painting the kitchen. As they pack up their paint brushes, rollers and drop cloths out come our pastry brushes, bun tins and aprons. 

The pervading smell of home cooking certainly beats that of the paint fumes.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Follies afloat

so whilst the rest of the country strategically places the sandbags and hopes the flood defences spring into action we follies join a boating group sailing across the solent for lunch!

This was the first time the family joined Mr Folly on a powerboat and let's just say the boy racer got the better of him!

We don't all have the wet weather gear as yet but by borrowing and using a tarpaulin we thought we might manage to keep dry. Not a bit!

We set off from Hamble just before 10am and arrived in Cowes an hour and 20 minutes later. It is the only time I have ever entered a pub to be asked whether I would like to have my clothes tumble dried. I can certainly recommend the service at The Folly Inn.

Unfortunately Folly 1 couldn't get the time off work and so was unable to join us, but the 3 Follies have been regaling her with tales of our adventure. 

Based on the family response to a wet day on the water I think there will be many more days afloat for the Follies.

Friday, 9 November 2012


another month speeding by...

here at the follies we celebrated hallow'een with dressing up, pumpkins,decorations and a trick or treat village tour. It seems to be one of the few times when all the children of the village venture outside at the same time (the other being with the appearance of any snow).  The girls gained a good haul of treats and i'm giving them the positive motivator of a little extra money if they can make the sweets last until the end of November. So far they are doing very well though I do have to hide their bags of goodies as they are convinced Mr Folly is dipping in!


Folly 1 has taken part in her guy fawkes celebrations in the nearby city. It sounded quite the event with the fireworks choreographed to music.  The rest of us are off to an organised event tonight.  The family is certainly growing up as for the first year no-one has requested sparklers.

We are all back into routine after the half term break and preparations for Christmas are apace:

    • Folly 2 is superorganised and has much of her Christmas shopping done
    • I have joined the school PTA Christmas Fayre committee
    • Mr F has been requested to make an appearance as a much loved Christmas personage (and no I don't mean the Angel Gabriel)
    • I am busy crafting for a WI stall at the village Christmas Fayre
    • Christmas boxes for Operation Christmas Child have been assembled
    • One Christmas cake is made though I am still unsure as to whether it is too 'well done'.

Sunday will see Folly 4 take part in a Remembrance Day ceremony.  She will be joining in this year as a Girl Guideand has been asked to a reading. This is causing a little worry as she is hesitant when she reaches the word 'semaphore'. And how that fits into a Remembrance Service I will leave to the imagination.

Monday, 22 October 2012

one year ago ..

.. the builders started work on the remodelling and extension of Yew Tree Cottage. Now I cannot say that we are actually finished, but for the most part the builders have left us and we are living in and enjoying our new space.

We have been asked now that we have been through all the stages of a large project whether, knowing what we know now, we would have undertaken such work. The answer from all of us is a big 'yes'!

We expected lots of dust and we got it, though much later on in the schuedule than I anticipated. There was copious amounts of mud and the loss of the use of the garden but it was during winter so that didn't seem so bad.

There were some positives too - always someone on hand to take in parcels, always someone competent available to undertake those little diy tasks that seem to crop up.

It is hard to remember now how we lived for 18 months before work started. Then how we squished together for 6 months with one folly sleeping downstairs and another in our bedroom. A good thing we have the photos to remind us.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

october glow

I have the task of taking the dog on her first outing of the day and at this time of year we hear the sounds of geese coming our way. I love to watch their v-shaped formation and the way they continually re-shape behind a new leader. The goosey honking heralding the coming of winter.

There's a definite chill in the air once the sun has set and tonight for the first time since the summer we lit a fire.  We didn't end up with the cosy evening I anticipated as local friends came over and enticed the girls outside to play in the last of the days light. I enjoyed my evening keeping the home fires burning!

Monday, 1 October 2012

back to routine

... or that is how it is supposed to feel as the new academic year begins and the 4 Follies and I start the autumn term.

Yet this year I struggle to get into a routine.

Perhaps that is because patterns have not yet been set neither in work nor at home -

  • the eldest folly has begun her time at 6th form and is enjoying the more relaxed structure and inclusion of 'free's' into her timetable.
  • the youngest folly has just returned from a school residential spent at Little Canada.  so home routines have been a little different.

Perhaps it is the warm and often sunny weather we have experienced here in the south (until today that is), making me reluctant to give up the freedom of the summer holidays.

Perhaps simply my reluctance to accept the passing of time, the moving through the seasons, as I prepare to apply to secondary school for my baby.

Or perhaps it simply is that I fool myself we are ever in any kind of routine here at yewtreefollies!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

fruit picking

when the follies were little, one of my regular activities during the summer was to spend a day or more picking fruit at the 'pick your own'.  We would end up with copious amounts of strawberries along with a fair few raspberries and currants.

Since moving closer to Ganger Farm 2 years ago we have not continued with such visits.  

However, this year we overcame our disappointment that the farm no longer grows strawberries and decided to pick raspberries and redcurrants. We tried the loganberries and tayberries but at this time of the year the branches are spartan.


Bess enjoyed running up and down the long corridors of fruit plants.

The teenagers lasted for a while but interest did wane. After a wholehearted endeavour with the raspberries their contributions tailed off considerably. The rest of us maintained a more steady picking pace tasting as we went.

We brought our haul home but it didn't seem to stretch as far as in the past and managed only a raspberry and redcurrant cordial and a crumble for evening dessert.  Folly 4 and I vowed we would be back for more ...

Friday, 31 August 2012

time spent

before our holiday I did briefly wonder how all 6 of us would get along in such close proximity without electronic distractions.

Yet, as it turned out there were few niggles amongst us over the time spent together. We settled into routines of

  • trips to the beach or cove
  • time spent in the pool practising synchronised swimming routines
  • watching olympic coverage with accompanying german commentary
  •  discovering the delights of snorkelling
  • evening card games
  • dusky walks along the beach front


We managed to fit in an excursion to marineland, a trip on a glass bottomed boat and a dinner show. 

Much to the chargrin of some of us we did not manage any visits to nightclubs or organised activiites by travel reps.

the cross of the knights templar

We made it to Mass on the 2 Sundays of our stay - the first time completely by luck (or bad luck according to the younger follies).  The catholic church was tucked away to the side of the town square and looked unassuming from the outside. However, inside it was a different matter and we discovered that this church had been built in the 14th century by the Knights Templar.

the cockerel is the symbol of Pollenca

The comical addition of seeing a dog in the congregation one week, a dove flying above the altar the next and the seemingly unholy mosaics on the floor helped the endurance of the young folllies.

Now it seems strange that we are home and have an altogether different routine.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012


whilst in majorca we came across not just 'meercats' but 'supermercats' and this was where we sometimes went to buy necessary provisions.  It has now become the family saying for any grocery shopping we do.

However, we much prefered to wander around the colourful outdoor markets and we could find one nearby for everyday of the week.

The fresh salad, vegetables, fruits and flowers looked gorgeous and were not all exactly the same shape and hue, but actually looked as if they had grown on real plants outside.

Folly 4 is something of an olive fiend so to find multiple stalls groaning with olives was her idea of heaven.

tomato sculpture courtesy of Folly 4

So cheap were these delightful items that it appears no-one buys such produce individually. As I wandered away from the other follies tempted by the scent and colour I made my request at a stall for 'uno' pepper.  The family were much amused to see me return to them with a purchase of one kilo of red peppers!

We ate at the villa for much of the time as there was a built in barbeque and our own recipe for sangria hit the mark, but we did try some Spanish specialities.

 again thanks to little sis for help with photo editing this post.

Monday, 20 August 2012


after quite some time away from blogging I really need to catch up.

The school holidays started towards the end of July and as ever rather than having more time to write blog posts I find that I have even less.  My excuse for the last 2 weeks is that we were lucky enough to be able to go abroad for a summer holiday this year.  Over the past few years our summer breaks have been in Britain, but this year with the eldest folly completing her GCSE's we thought it time to do something a little special.

Majorca was the answer and we spent 2 weeks in a villa in the north of the island. We were all able to relax as our pace slowed down and life became easy with the tricky decisions consisting of pool or beach, barbeque or restaurant and supermarket or traditional market stalls.

We hired cars whilst on the island. I say cars because people carriers are few and far between so we had 2 small fiat cars instead. Initially I was nervous about driving but the roads were great and my years of driving on the right whilst living in Canada all came flooding back.

The only down side to our holiday was that Folly 4 had quite a bad time with her asthma in the drier climate and would wake during the night.  We eventually admitted we were unable to cope with her symptoms and took her to the doctor where she was given help with a change of medication and time on the nebuliser.

It is good to be back in our own home and we have tried to keep something about that relaxed feel to our days back here. But appointments do keep intruding and I really miss the inevitability of a blue sky every morning!

ps. a big thanks to little sis for her photo editing for this post.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

another 25 year celebration

it was back in the season of long dark nights and cold days that we received an invitation to a summer silver wedding celebration. Just a few weekends ago on a dry and warm evening we attended the 25th wedding anniversary party of our friends.  We met these friends some years before we moved away from the city and found similarities in our lives, having lived far away from home bringing up 4 children.

It was lovely to have been invited to celebrate a special wedding anniversary and it was an evening of surprises. We did not realise just how many friends we had in common and met couples we had not seen for some time and now had an opportunity to catch up.

When the young couple married in Manila only the family of the bride were present so this celebration was the reception in England for the groom.  The celebrations were held in a marquee in the garden with speeches of appreciation and love by the children of the couple.

An evening of eating, reminscing and dancing - thank you John and Amy.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


back in the day, we didn't celebrate the end of school with a prom and so this year the three younger follies and I are living vicariously through the eldest Folly.

The 5 of us went into the city on the shopping trip for the dress and by the end four of us were sitting on the floor whilst the fashion parade occurred in front of us. The search culminated in unanimous agreement on a full length elegant frock.  There was not so much enthusiasm for the following search for shoes and bag so this was postponed for a later date.

Thursday was the big day and whilst the younger follies were working away at school Folly 1 was having hair and nails done. Then it was off to the friends house where a gang of 7 were getting ready together before departing for prom in a vintage ambulance.

 Now the vintage ambulance is a very old lady and though she bravely trundled her way through the city traffic to the gates of the manor she decided to stop right there and go no further.

So out with the first responder car and an arrival with blue flashing lights for some of the group, whilst the others had to walk up the driveway - now there was a test for the heels!

None of the Follies were prepared to miss out on this spectacle so along with plenty of other families we gathered at the prom venue to greet the girls.  Then we left them to their evening of 'finger buffet' and dancing whilst we went home to prepare the room for the return of a gang of 6 for a sleepover. 

Always fun to see how the glamour has faded by the end of a good night out!