29th Jul 2008
Tamsin: The kids and I spotted the brightly coloured balls at a summer social event, lined up on a race track. We jumped on them and suddenly the competitive streak came out in me – I was going to cross the finishing line first on my space hopper. I had never owned one as a kid, never really tried them out before - but my time had come.
We lined up, leant forward, pulled ourselves up and were off. Initially, my bouncing technique was only good enough for me to see the backs of Joe and Carla. But due to...
an over-bounce by Joe, and ...
giggles by Carla, I found myself steadily bouncing into first place – yeeeeeesssss!
The price I had to pay for this victory was a rather large rip in a nice pair of jeans and the embarrassment of having to spend the rest of the party covering it up.
I found that there are plenty of sites on the internet where you can purchase all different sizes of space hoppers, which I did, so now we can hop our way through the summer holidays.
18th Jul 2008
Jane: Our exceedingly kind neighbour Julia brought round a big bag of home-grown gooseberries this week, freshly picked from her allotment. I love goosegogs though they are funny-looking things, all veiny and hairy and hard as bullets, full of juice and tart flavour once you cook them. Some were very large and it suddenly brought back memories of reading years ago about some wacky ‘gooseberry clubs’ around Manchester and Yorkshire where growers had annual competitions to cultivate the largest gooseberry ever. They stripped their bushes of all fruit but one, which then grew to a whopping two ounces or more. Just eight of those and you can make a pretty decent gooseberry tart. But instead, we decided to make our favourite green pud - gooseberry fool.
Many recipes use whipped double cream, but I prefer the poor man’s fool where you mix custard and cream together so it’s not quite as rich. You can make your own custard, though I use Bird’s which is a lot quicker and is another childhood food favourite that I still absolutely adore. (Especially when it’s as thick and gungy as wallpaper paste, but that’s another story.) I also add a splash of elderflower cordial, to give the gooseberries a nice depth of flavour. Surprisingly, the children lapped up this pud, and wanted more. And meanwhile, I'm thinking what a good idea a meaty gooseberry and elderflower jam would be. I'll keep you posted...
PS: Guess what: many of the old Yorkshire goosegog conventions are still going strong. The Egton Bridge Old Gooseberry Society, which has been running for over 200 years, is apparently having its annual competition to find the heaviest gooseberry on the 5th August. Unmissable. See you there!
13th Jul 2008
Jane: Last weekend it was the school summer fair and the girls ran a Pluck the Duck stall – a kind of tombola where you win prizes by picking raffle tickets from a duck. It’s easy to make – all you need is a bit of hardboard and some paint (oh and a drill, so see the instructions here). Once you’ve made the duck, you push rolled-up raffle tickets into the holes which people pull out – those ending in 0 or 5 win a prize.
Carla, Maudie, Alice and Keri rifled through their stuffed toy collections and party cupboards, and baked loads of fairy cakes to give as prizes. They had a fantastic array which they spread out over two tables and the punters flooded in to have a go. Children of all ages love it because they have a pretty good chance of winning something soft and fluffy or deliciously tasty…
7th Jul 2008
Tamsin: The weather has been awful today - wet, windy and cold - but the month is July so I thought I would write about a much sunnier day that we had on the beach. The game began when Mike hunched himself over and said 'Look! A crab.' Always excited to see this crustacean, I began scanning the sand, but saw nothing. 'No,' exclaimed Mike, 'my shadow.'
I was pretty impressed, but Mal was harder to please. 'Crabs don't have heads,' he pointed out, and plunged his head down to his chest to produce the headless crab.
Having achieved this level of crab perfection he then decided to improve on it and produced a pretty impressive giant crab claw.
I thought it also looked like a flamingo's bill, especially if you squint your eyes a bit. The girls thought they could do even better and all immediately stood on one leg. It took them a while to realise they had to think about the shadow they were producing and not just the shape of their bodies, but very soon the beach was looking like an African lagoon with flocks of shadow flamingos.