28th and 29th November 2013- Woodland Journey.

Time for a return to the woods this week, to catch the tail end of the autumn leaves. And of course, it would be rude not to cook a batch or 4 of pancakes. So the mornings began as ever mixing up the requisite ingredients to be transferred into some Tupperware ready for transporting down to the woods.

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Suited and booted off we went. Quite the journey for the younger Thursday lot some of who found the walk a bit gruelling but once we build up a bit of stamina things will become easier.

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On Friday we stopped in the Barn to see Simon who showed us his shave horse and draw knife in action and allowed us to take some of his shavings, top notch kindling for fire making.

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On Thursday the leaves had scattered all over the top of the parachute making patterns.

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On both days we played games. On Thursday Meet a Tree and Eagle Eye, and Friday also a go at Creeping Komanchi

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And then of course it was pancake, story and song time… accompanied by out of tune ukulele. This week’s story Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.

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And on the way back, a spot of mountaineering

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21st and 22nd November 2013- Apple cakes and Decorations

The weekend heralded the Christmas Fair at Dixter, so time to install/ complete those decorations we had been preparing, with Thursday’s group assembling paper chains we had crafted and Friday’s heading to the house to decorate the Christmas tree in the Great Hall, putting lanterns (with electronic tea lights- handy for not burning down a Medieval timber framed hall) in place and stringing up the paper chains.

As ever both mornings started thinking about our stomachs, a more or less constant concern, with the making of some apple cakes. The usual made up recipe- 6oz golden caster sugar, 6oz butter creamed together, beat in 3 eggs, fold in 6oz self raising flour and a teaspoon of baking powder, stir in peeled chopped cooking apples – on Thursday pre coated with cinnamon and mixed spice.. on Friday I think this was just added to the mixture.

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Into the oven at 160 c and out to the chilly garden for a walk.

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The seeds on the teasels have started to germinate

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On Friday we found the tractor to sit on..

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And the camera was adopted by a keen young photographer whose pictures are coming up…

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Among her discoveries were… a secret doorway

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Some golden leaves

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An intriguing window

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An enclosed pathway

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And golden apples

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On such a cold day we were keen to get back for our warm cake.. in fact so keen in wasn’t quite done!

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On Thursday we enjoyed a few songs and putting together the paperchains

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And on Friday we put all our decorations in the Great Hall and helped dress the tree- sadly no pics as the camera battery died.

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Here’s a pic of the tree taken by Adele .. quite a whopper!

14th and 15th November 2013- Pears and Paperchains

Another couple of stunning autumn mornings, and there are still a few pears on the trees as yet uneaten by birds, so I thought we could try Emmanuel’s fruity soda bread again, this time with the addition of finely chopped pears, mixed dried fruit and mixed spices.

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Job done we headed for the garden

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On Thursday via the tractor for a quick sit

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We spotted those pendulous pears

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Enjoyed the grasses shining in the low sunlight

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Found a face

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Some rather beautiful fruits and flowers

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And had a good romp round the garden

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After which we were definitely ready for some delicious hot soda bread with butter, and some nice strong coffee.

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And a story- this week the wonderful Ed Boxall’s The Shell Collector (coming soon and available online, along with The Gardener, in our shop)…

Finally we finished by painting some recycled paper strips we will make into paper chains and use to decorate the Great Hall for the Christmas Fair next weekend. And of course with a few badly played ukulele numbers.

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Some of us also thought it would be fun to paint ourselves…

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7th and 8th November 2013- Puddles, scones and lanterns

Bit of a soggy couple of days but a decent turn out nonetheless (puddles= puddle jumping). Both mornings started with the making of cheese scones – with the inclusion of some spring onions planted earlier in the year.

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On Thursday we managed to sly in a cheeky sit on the tractor…

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And then it was time to waterproof up and head to the garden. We were on the hunt for more beautiful leaves to be used to make our lanterns later…

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Thursday’s hunters (and puddle jumpers)

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And Friday’s … spot the pirate ship (*imagination required)

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And then it was time for hot scones, a story- this week The King of Tiny Things by Jeanne Willis and a few songs on the uke.

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Finally we had a go at making some lanterns- to be used to decorate the Great Hall for the Christmas Fair, using willow and tissue paper. I’ll put up the results when they are in situ.

31st October and 1st November 2013- Willow leaf crowns and a trip to the woods

So annoyingly this week something seems to have malfunctioned with the downloading with the photos, so just for the record I’ll loosely recap what we did and we can move on!!

Both mornings started with the making of welshcakes to be cooked in the woods on the fire. Safely stowed away in some Tupperware we headed out into the drizzle to cut some willow to be bent into wreaths or crowns, keeping alert to any beautiful leaves that could be used to beautify them.

We arrived at the fire circle and began preparing to light the fire- stick collecting (plenty to be had after the storm) and playing the fire safety game.

Then the fire was lit and everyone set about making their crowns which were BEAUTIFUL (sob), while I cooked the welshcakes. We then had the story- Guess what I found in Dragon Wood by Timothy Knapman and a few songs accompanied by the ukulele and it was time to go back. You’ll have to use your imaginations for the pictures, unless someone with a handy Iphone can fill in the blanks. Sorry!