So with the children and I spending more time at home during the day and the evenings drawing in, our thoughts have turned to keeping warm. Primrose had already reached for her fluffy slippers and Poppy and I had resorted to a cosy blanket on the sofa, all of us moaning about how cold the cottage has got all of a sudden. Ever practical and frugal, Jerry suggested wearing another jumper but this was very quickly dismissed out of hand. Surely, Mr R Lauren’s jumpers are worn to be seen, not to be hidden under a layer of inferior wool and before the frugal among you suggest it, ‘Fagin’-style fingerless gloves will not be making their fashion debut in this little corner of suburbia any time soon either. Thankfully, the log burner (which we installed as a pseudo-country ‘feature’) is coming into its own now. Only one problem. It eats logs voraciously and I have no woodland handy to go and chop some of my own. Not unsurprisingly as this is SW London and not the country. I did breathe a huge sigh of relief over the lack of forest on the doorstep. Jerry is not to be let loose with an axe. He might not return with his limbs intact. The building of the log shed was enough of a warning sign. Jerry’s DIY efforts, although valiant, were somewhat lacking and we now have, what can only be described as, a down and out shack to rival any under Waterloo Bridge at the bottom of the garden. Affectionately known as the ‘Jesus’ shed, Primrose and I did joke last year, as Christmas Eve was fast approaching, that if I did not make it to the hospital in time, I could always give birth to Poppy in our very own Bethlehem style stable. I am sure that you will be grateful to hear, dear Reader, that the shed remained fit for purpose (in its loosest terms) and instead, Poppy’s first view of the world was of HMP Wormwood Scrubs.
Whilst I deliberated about log suppliers, I turned to a new book I had bought in the hope of learning a new ‘country’ skill to impress Primrose and Poppy. Ever since our last woodland walk when I ended up carrying Primrose’s bike for at least a mile, Jerry and I have been trying to come up with ways to keep Primrose occupied on long walks. This seemed perfect: The Stick Book by Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks
This book is THE ‘must-have’ if you have outdoorsy children or if you think that they need a bit of encouragement to become outdoorsy! Primrose is, without doubt, in the latter camp! It has everything from den building, making camp fires and impromptu fishing rods to creating woodland fairy houses, pooh sticks and the ultimate stick creating, a bow and arrow. I think that I was more excited by the prospect of the bow and arrow than Primrose was! Knowing that it was definitely beyond my stick-making abilities, I set to work on creating another stick masterpiece. Collecting the right sticks was the first hurdle. Speaking as someone who has no idea of the difference between hazel and hawthorn or can tell my ash from my willow, this was not easy. I did manage to gather some sticks though with Primrose’s help. (Primrose’s main incentive was my outlandish claim that I could make her a witch’s broom for a party she was going to). Not sure if they were the right ones after an hour, I wasn’t going to spend another minute freezing my bottom off in the park, whilst we looked for the perfect stick to complete our challenge. Returning home, I attempted the witch’s broom and failed miserably. Apparently, I had left the sticks too long and they had dried out, making them useless for bending into the right shape. Harrumphing, I went to make a cup of tea. Meanwhile, Poppy managed to put most of the sticks in her mouth and then crawled with them into the sitting room, almost gauging out one of the cat’s eyes…… Witch’s broomstick maker was not going to be added to my list of skills this week. Witch with one-eyed black cat – mmmm – might just be able to recreate that, with Poppy’s help.
At the very last hour before the party, I managed to convince Primrose to go as Bo Peep and I rustled up a shepherdess’ crook out of some bamboo sticks in the garden! Clearly a little improvisation (and some stick knowledge) can go a long way. That and a lot of brown tape! Turning back to The Stick Book, I reckon that with a bit more practice and some further acquaintance with which sticks are best, I might just work out how to make that bow and arrow. No chance Primrose will have that one if I do manage to make it!
Party prop crisis averted, I turned my attention back to the business of keeping warm. Trusty Country Life produced a top tips list this week on preparing one’s house for winter. My favourites being: checking the gutters for trapped tennis balls (if only the cottage had a tennis court…) and making sure that one has the game larder disinfected ready for restocking. Deliciously brilliant advice I thought! Logs ordered on the interweb and finally delivered, the weather warmed up…..Typical. Come on winter! Hit us with some very cold days so that I can remain Mrs Smug of Suburbia, boast kiln-dried logs rather than moan about gas price fixing and retreat to my cosy, warm cottage to drink mulled wine! Now, where to find that game larder?………..