Friday, 19 December 2014

The Season of Goodwill

One of my New Year Resolutions for 2014 was to 'be kinder'. I'm going to be completely honest and admit that it's not been an easy one to stick to as I am naturally grumpy! But I've tried very hard to be kinder this year and I think I've done pretty well, considering my ingrained propensity to speak before I think.

One of the easier ways I have kept to my resolution is by donating to charities. I've supported Marie Curie Cancer Care since their wonderful nurses allowed my mum to die at home with her family as she wanted and the National Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline since I got involved with them back in 2009, but this year I have branched out and have donated to a different charity every month. Mostly these have been those smaller appeals that seem to slip under the radar, the ones you become aware of through other blogs and Twitter. This year I have become aware of foodbanks for the first time and perhaps because I am a mother now, I've been really saddened by the thought of families who can't afford to feed their children, especially at this time of year.

Foodbanks are used by people in genuine need. Vouchers are given out by doctors, health visitors, social workers, welfare officers and the Citizens Advice Bureau where they have identified a family in crisis. These vouchers are then taken to a foodbank and swapped for a box of essentials which will last three days. Some even deliver to those who are unable to get to a foodbank or who live in rural areas. And the number of people who have needed to rely on food banks this year is up 163% on last year, meaning that food banks need our help more than ever.

It's so easy to donate and it really doesn't cost a lot. Just adding a few extra tins to your trolley when you go shopping would help to make a difference to those who are struggling and you could really help to ease a difficult time for families who are dreading the festive period. Many supermarkets have in-store donation points or if you are an online shopper like me, you could visit the Trussell Trust website and find your nearest foodbank to donate to directly. You can even donate money by text - it really is that easy.

How simple (and kind) would it be to forgo your £4 Starbucks festive drink and spend that money on some tinned goods, tea bags or dried pasta for a family that's struggling to make ends meet? One coffee that's gone in 10 minutes or some staple food to feed a family for a couple of days? It's kind of a no-brainer, right?

The Trussell Trust have a list of their most wanted items, which includes the obvious basics such as baked beans, tinned tomatoes, dried pasta and cereals as well as tea, coffee, long life milk and sugar. As well as these I like to donate something that might bring a smile to the recipients face, such as tinned sponge puddings, small packets of biscuits, a chocolate selection box or children's sweets such as mini packs of jelly tots or smarties. As long as you stick to non-perishable items that are easy to prepare for people with limited cooking facilities then you're helping. Those small pots of porridge that you make with hot water might allow a child to go to school with a warm breakfast in its tummy - I always include them.

I know that Christmas can be a really expensive time of year but we could all make such a big difference by sparing just a pound or two. And who wouldn't want to do that? 

Monday, 8 December 2014

Waving, not Drowning

festive cleaning products - drinks on the go for me & my buddy - seasonal porn
christmas meal planning - cosy central - festive drinks for soothing sore throats
forrest's nursery christmas fayre treats - snuggling by the aga - festive knitwear for the little fella

instagram - madeupoflittlethings

I realise that it's been nearly three months since I posted. A very long blog break indeed. The thing about blogging is that the longer you leave it between posts, the harder it is to pick it back up. That's how it is for me anyway. The things I want to blog about mount up and the things I need to catch up on become an insurmountable pile and it just seems an impossible task. And I've always struggled with this type of thing. My unspoken personal mantra is 'if something looks too difficult, don't do it' Thank you very much to those lovely readers who have emailed me to check that I'm still alive, I promise I will get back to you!

We've been through a long patch of various illnesses with Forrest, intermingled with teething and growth spurts. Work has been extremely busy, Matt has bought another business premises which involved lots of backward and forward with the vendor and solicitors, we have agreed a sale on the cottage and the buyers are currently renting it from us whilst they raise the funds to proceed with the purchase, meaning I've been writing up contracts and dealing with a new tenancy. Despite the fact that I no longer work full time, life feels busier than it ever has.

For the last fortnight Forrest has been battling bronchitis. If you've never looked after a poorly baby then I can't really explain to you how horrible it is. It's especially bad because I have always suffered with my chest and have had bronchitis numerous times, so I know exactly how much every cough hurts and why he has spent so much time crying and clinging to my front like a koala bear. I have cleaned up more vomit during the last fortnight than I care to recount. I am desperately hoping that this week will see some glimmer of recovery - last night was the first time he'd slept through since he got ill so fingers crossed etc etc ...

Having a poorly baby has meant that I've missed out on some pretty exciting stuff. I missed the Lincolnshire Food & Gift Fair, which Lincolnshire Showground had kindly invited me to, as well as Lincoln Christmas Market last week. I was SO disappointed to miss out on such festive events - Matt and I had really been looking forward to showing Forrest the Christmas Market in all its glittery, baubley glory (as well as introducing him to the wonderful range of festive food) and I think this might be partly responsible for my total lack of Christmas cheer

We've all been a bit pulled down for the last couple of months and have lost all motivation to do anything to the ever-continuing house project. Matt did manage to fit the log burner a couple of weeks ago though and I can't tell you what a difference it's made. The kitchen is so cosy when the log burner and candles are lit and MY GOD it pumps out some heat! Lucky really, as it's enabled us to keep Forrest extra toasty while he's been ill. 

We've managed to make some progress though - our beautiful staircase is now complete and ready for painting and carpeting. The kitchen island was installed a month or so ago, our dressing room cabinetry is being made as I type and the plumber is here today to finish some jobs such as fitting the water softener, plumbing in the dishwasher (about time!) and radiators in the kitchen and bathroom, the basin in the cloakroom and the bidet in our en suite. There's still so much to do but every time a job gets finished it gives us a little bit of encouragement to keep going

December hasn't been a good month so far but I'm determined that this week I will turn a corner. I created a Festive Playlist and got all of our Christmas decorations out last night and dotted them around, instantly bringing some festive comfort to the room. I lit my favourite White Company 'Winter' candle and made a start on the Christmas editions of my favourite homes and interiors magazines. I'd like to get some more 'Christmas jobs' done but this is going to be a busy week all in all, with hospital appointments for Forrest and I and a long-awaited night away/Christmas shopping trip planned with Matt so card-writing and present-wrapping will have to wait until the weekend. I intend to make mulled wine (I'm determined to convert Matt to my mulled wine supping ways this year!) and mince pies and do my jobs whilst drinking, eating and listening to Christmas songs 

I hope you're all having a wonderful December and I look forward to sharing some more positive and festive posts soon!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Wandering and Dreaming

I always feel close to my Mum when I'm wandering and dreaming. I don't know why. We scattered my Mum's ashes at Lake Windermere so of course I feel closest to her there because she loved it and she specifically asked us to scatter her ashes there. That makes it even more special.

But being out in the countryside with the dogs makes me feel that she is near, almost as though I could have a conversation with her. Even if I'm thinking about something else - I often find a walk helps me to clear my mind and see a problem from a different angle - it's as though she's walking along next to me, listening to my ramblings. Perhaps with a wry little smile

She loved the countryside you see, dogs too, and I often think that she would love the life I have now. My home, my dogs, the countryside, the chickens ... all of it. And Forrest of course, that goes without saying. It is unfair beyond words that she never got to meet her grandchildren. But sometimes when I'm doing something I know she would have enjoyed, it's almost as though I'm doing it for her. As if I'm experiencing it on her behalf 

Last week I took the dogs to the vet for their annual vaccinations and stopped for a walk on the way there. I went to a beautiful spot where I used to ride my horse years ago, it has a really beautiful valley which I used to explore as a kid on my pony too. My Mum had never been there - I feel like she has but I've just had a good think about it and she can't have been. But again, she has felt close to me there

I used to spend hours upon hours out riding and get home after settling my horse, tired, aching, hungry but brimming over with happiness. My mum would sit me down at the kitchen table with my heated-up dinner and listen as I regaled her with tales of where I'd been, what I'd seen, where I'd had a gallop and how Toby had been startled when a magpie popped out of the hedge in front of him and pretended he was going to bolt and we'd laugh because Toby would never do such a thing

My Mum wasn't a confident rider but I think if she had been, we would have ridden together an awful lot. I think that back then, she lived vicariously through me when it came to riding and perhaps that's why I feel that she lives through me now. Whenever I see a beautiful view, a bird close up, a country house, a pretty wildflower - I always think of her

What do you do to feel close to loved ones you've lost?

Saturday, 9 August 2014

July Round Up

July was woefully short of Friday Round Ups - woefully short of any blog posts in fact. It will go down in history as One Of The Busiest And Most Stressful Months Ever - keeping company with last September which saw the run up to the Big House Move, Matt in hospital and me 8 months pregnant. Phew. On second thoughts, July was a walk in the park compared to that ordeal!

I thought I'd have a look back at my photos from July to see what kind of story they told, so here's my July Round Up

Forrest learned a new trick involving pulling Jessie's ear when she sits next to him at mealtimes. She doesn't seem to mind

I learned a lesson about leaving my cereal bowl too close to the baby/edge of the table

We finished painting the office. It's Stone Blue with Strong White coving and Pointing ceiling/window (all Farrow & Ball) We're sleeping in here at the minute until our dressing room is shelved out, then we can decorate our new bedroom and get moved into there

The evening sun streaming in through the arched window in the kitchen. This is my view when I sit at the kitchen table of an evening, back to the Aga, laptop and cup of tea in front of me, candle burning. It's so peaceful and I feel so lucky to live here - even if the garden is a jungle!

I revisited a childhood favourite. At times when I feel stressed, a bit down or just weary, I like to re-read childhood favourites. It's like wrapping myself in a comfort blanket from the past. I love reliving old memories, I find it immensely comforting. This was a story I used to borrow from the library as an audiobook. I can still hear the voice of the lady reading it (it may have been Lynda Bellingham)

I started my new job in the family business! It's been a tough month, I've worked every available hour to try to get up to date with work and I'm just about there now. It's been difficult, tiring and frustrating but I can honestly say I've enjoyed every minute of it and there hasn't been a single moment where I've thought 'what have I done??' 

Jessie sporting The Cone Of Shame. Poor bear had an op early in the month and a very difficult recovery - I was seriously worried about her. By this point it was clear that she'd turned a corner and was going to be ok but she held a grudge about that collar. Look at those accusatory eyes ...

Forrest had a chest infection and was very poorly for a week. Poor little thing was even hotter and sweatier than usual and had a terrible cough. I hate it when he's poorly but I do like nursing him and enjoy his increased need for cuddles!

Red cabbage about to go into the Aga. We had family over for a Sunday roast twice last month and braised red cabbage is a must for me. I love a good roast dinner!

We had a day out in Harrogate. It was a failure on the shopping front (we bought absolutely nothing!) but it was a lovely day out nonetheless. We still don't get much time together as a family due to work and house commitments so days out like this are always enjoyable, no matter what we do

I made a little feathered friend. One sunny Saturday a little fledgling sparrow came along to eat some breadcrumbs I threw out of the French doors in the kitchen. He was so unafraid and looked really curious, he eventually ate all the crumbs and popped into the house! I started to feed him and he became a regular visitor, showing up a dozen times a day for more crumbs or to sit under Forrest's high chair and pick up any crumbs he dropped. Many times though he didn't even seem interested in the food, he just used to sit there and look at me. One day I was sitting on the sofa giving Forrest his bottle and the sparrow popped up on the sofa arm beside me! I nearly jumped out of my skin! He came for exactly a week then disappeared, never to be seen again. I still find it really odd

I took Forrest to a local beauty spot for a picnic with my sister and nephew. He had a whale of a time on his first picnic, eating sandwiches, cheese, crackers, quiche, cucumber and yoghurt. He even dipped his little feet in the stream!

How was your July?

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Friday Round Up

new clock - lincolnshire traffic jam - jessie knows she's going to the vet
reading peter rabbit to forrest - smily jessie - view from my new office
sad jessie - red cabbage about to go into the aga - happy tabby

instagram - madeupoflittlethings

I wanted to do a Friday Round Up last week but I was in the midst of quite a hectic time ....

Jessie had surgery on the Tuesday and came home very unwell on Wednesday evening. I made her comfortable and went to bed but awoke at 1am to loud howls coming from the kitchen, which was terrifying - not least because Jessie is pretty much mute most of the time, I've only heard her howl once before, after she'd been spayed. I stayed up all night with her while she laid crying in her bed, breaking my heart. In the morning I called the vet and got extra painkillers for her but it soon became apparent that she was steadily declining. I whizzed her back to the vet and it turned out that her wound was breaking down and leaking fluid. I've never seen her so distressed and I don't mind admitting that I broke down and cried like a child in the consulting room with the vet and the nurses while they cleaned her up. They sedated her (I think they considered doing the same to me!) and kept her in overnight again. I drove home with an empty van and continued sobbing all night, giving myself a shocking headache. After having seen her in that state I felt there was a good chance that she might not be coming home again and I felt absolutely sick at the prospect. The vet reluctantly released her on Friday night as she was highly stressed in the hospital and wasn't doing herself any good, so she came home with five different types of medication and a warning that I was in for a difficult weekend of cleaning her wound and trying to keep her comfortable

Which would have been fine except that Forrest had been keeping me busy too. He'd been a bit off colour on Thursday, I'd had to take him to hospital for an X ray on Friday morning (for something unrelated) and he spent the weekend being a typical poorly baby - clingy, crying and off his food. He woke up in the night on Sunday for the first time since he was about five months old and he scared me witless, he was raging hot, coughing madly and struggling to breathe. I stayed with him for two hours, hanging over his cot because he sobbed if I tried to leave. In the end I kicked Matt out of bed and put Forrest in with me and we managed three hours sleep together before he awoke needing more Calpol and a drink of warm water for his sore little throat

So you see, I've been kind of pre-occupied. Luckily Jessie started to pick up on Sunday and is now  back to her old self again, which is a huge relief. I never want to see a dog of mine in that state again, it was truly awful. Forrest had a trip to the doctor on Monday and was diagnosed with a chest infection (he must take after his mama) so he is having vile fluorescent medicine three times a day, which he hates

Unsurprisingly, Matt and I came down with Forrest's illness too so we were truly a house of plague. The amazing thing is how you just keep going. I was absolutely exhausted, feeling horrendously ill and constantly on the go but I just powered through - cleaning up sick, cleaning Jessie's wound, washing, cooking, making up bottles, walking Jessie, doling out medicines - I even worked late at the garage a couple of evenings (although I wasn't much use if I'm honest)

Thankfully, things are on the up now. Jessie is better, Matt and I are better and Forrest is getting there slowly. The little fella has two teeth peeping through his bottom gums and they're making their presence felt, poor little thing. He's going to look so cute with two little tushypegs in situ ('just like Prince George', as Matt proudly pointed out!)

In other news, I was ID'd whilst buying a bottle of wine last week! I whipped out my driving licence for the chap's inspection and he said 'oh my God - I didn't think you were THAT old!' Gee thanks. He'd thought I was 'about 22 or something'. I didn't know whether to be pleased or offended!

On Friday we took Forrest to Harrogate for the day with a half hearted plan to do some shopping but a more realistic aim of wandering around in the sunshine and perhaps getting some lunch. We did indeed have a lovely Italian lunch but our shopping was completely nonexistent - not a new phenomenon for me (see here)

Today I've been trying to get the house shipshape around Forrest's naps because while he's been awake he's wanted to be held constantly and has cried at the drop of a hat. I blame those pesky teeth. Tomorrow we have a third viewing on the cottage by a couple who have already put in an offer (which we refused) Fingers crossed they will increase their offer, it would be one less thing for us to worry about - the cottage has quite a big garden which takes lots of looking after at this time of year. I've also got my family coming round for Sunday lunch - I've already made my apple sauce, the red cabbage is braising in the Aga and I'll be roasting an enormous loin of pork tomorrow - I can't wait!

What have you been up to this weekend?

Saturday, 12 July 2014

All Change on The Work Front

It's been a bit quiet around here of late, there's been a lot happening in my Real World which has been taking up a lot of my time and energy, so that when I do have a minute to catch my breath I can't summon the energy to do anything that requires any brainpower

The transition to motherhood has been quite a rollercoaster and it's affected me in many ways, some expected and some not so expected. The most unexpected effect has been the difficulty I'm finding in being away from Forrest for any length of time. That appears to be getting worse rather than better and it's something I need to work on for both our sakes

Another has been the physical discomfort I'm still experiencing. Despite being told that SPD spontaneously resolves after the birth in 99% of cases, I'm still experiencing symptoms (I know, I should definitely have guessed that I would fall into that awkward 1% - I bet you did) and the pain in my coccyx from the birth is still there, meaning that I have to be very careful about what I do and how I do it

These two things were pretty crucial in my decision-making process when it came to going back to work. My employer had agreed to let me work three days a week, which was great. The nature of the job though and the volume of work meant that those three days were likely to contain five days work in reality and would involve early mornings and late nights plus lots of travelling and overnight stays. Not ideal when you struggle to drive any distance and can't bear to be away from your baby

My return to work was hanging over me like a storm cloud, silently stealing up on me, getting inexorably closer and I started to feel sick and teary every time I thought about it. We discussed childcare, looked at nannies and nurseries, worked out the finances and logistics but my feeling of unease grew. I realised that it was ruining my maternity leave, the precious time I did have with Forrest because I was constantly worrying about the ins and outs of being a working mum. How would I cope with asking for time off from such a high pressure job because my son was ill? I'd been one of the people who'd joined in with lambasting those women - if someone had cancelled a meeting with me because their child was ill then they wouldn't get a second chance. I know it's wrong but in the world of business those attitudes do exist - I inherited mine from my boss but they exist because everyone is under pressure to perform and it's cut-throat out there. I always felt bad that it affected mostly women and not men but like it or not, that's the way it still is, and I had a department to run, targets to meet and a board to answer to

I discussed it at length with Matt and we decided that the best result for us as a family would be for me to become a part of his expanding business. I could work flexible hours, bring work home if I needed to and have time off to be with Forrest if he was ill. So now Forrest goes to nursery for two afternoons a week. On those days Matt collects him and takes him home, gives him his tea and bath and puts him to bed while I work on until late. It's only been a couple of weeks but it's working brilliantly so far 

It has meant that I'm having to learn a completely new skill set but I'm loving it! I'm really feeling the benefit of less travelling too, I used to have a new company car every 10,000 miles and I was changing cars three or four times per year - that's an awful lot of driving. These days it takes me ten minutes to get to work and Forrest's nursery is only five minutes up the road so drop offs are quick and easy and I'm always on hand if there's a problem

There will be things I'll miss about my old job of course - I'm far less important at work than I used to be for a start! I worked for an FT250 company, a multi national plc, it goes without saying that there were great perks as well as the stress and pressure. I'll miss the good bits of course but I'm a different person now, with different priorities and I'm just not the best person for that role anymore. My qualifications and transferrable skills will stand me in good stead and eight years with my employer will look fantastic on my CV should I ever want to return to my old career. And I'm grateful - I had eight great years with that company and I got a lot out of it

But now I'm focussing on my two new jobs - being a good mum and being part of what is now the family business!

Friday, 27 June 2014

Friday Round Up

waiting for daddy - homemade meatball sub - new toy
comfort food - another new toy - stolen notebook
wilson helps with bricklaying - friday night done right - a little mummy partridge

I wasn't going to do a Friday Round Up today to be honest, because my week has been pretty run of the mill, but I just read this blog post by Becca and I thought 'what the hell?' I didn't start this blog because I thought I had a really interesting life to write about so why should being boring stop me now?

Sometimes it's hard to know what to write about, I often find myself wanting to blog but not knowing what to actually write, so I tend to wait until I have an actual subject to base a post on. But when I read other people's blogs, my favourite posts are the ones which give you a little peek into their day to day lives and how they live ... they don't have to portray a perfect life, let's face it, none of us have a perfect life. It's easy to fall in to the trap of trying to censor what you write to present a more 'perfect' or 'blogworthy' life and even easier to try to make each photo as appealing as possible, but that's not real. Life is not perfect. And people don't want to read about perfect anyway. Well I don't, I want to read about real

So here's a little post about what's being going down around here lately. Really.

I've been a little emotional

Since having Forrest, well since pregnancy, the flood of hormonal tearfulness has never really left me. I will cry at the most innocuous things. I've been taking evening primrose oil supplements to try to stem the tide somewhat but when I forget for a few days, as I have this week, the floodgates are opened. This week I have cried at

The swallows 
We have three swallow nests in the garage and the other night I stood outside watching about a dozen swallows swooping and diving around us in the garden. Did you know they fly to Africa every winter and return to the UK in the spring? That they return to the same nests, sometimes for years on end to lay their eggs and have their babies? Then they fly back to Africa for the winter.  The thought that the very swallows that were performing aerial ballet in the skies above our garden had been to Africa and back and chose our garage to be their baby-raising home for the next however many years seemed a real privilege. And this journey to and from Africa - it must be exhausting. Do they stop? Do they sleep? How long does it take them? And why were they swooping up so high and down so low at dusk? They seemed to be doing it just because they could, for the sheer joy of living and being and that ... that made me cry

A photograph of a baby breastfeeding
Just so sweet and natural, it reminded me of the quiet times spent bonding with Forrest in the early days. I've never really talked about it here but I breastfed Forrest for eight weeks as a newborn. It was difficult, frustrating and painful most of the time but on those occasions when it was going well it felt like the most wonderful, natural thing and gave me a real sense of my place in the world. I never did it in public or even in front of family - that's just not me. I know it's perfectly natural but then so is doing a poo and I wouldn't do that in front of my grandad or in the middle of the shopping centre either. I don't judge people who are happy to breastfeed in public (though I did before I became a mum!) but it's just not for me. Although I did once have to do it in the back of the car in a Domino's car park. It's a long story!

The Velveteen Rabbit
I ordered this book ages ago for Forrest because I loved it as a child, and it just arrived this week. I read it to him at bedtime and, like so many of the books I have chosen for him (Nancy Tilman books, anyone??) it made me shed a little silent tear because it is just so sweet. I hope he enjoys the story when he is old enough to understand it

The SMA Advert
A repeat offender. That last line 'take it from us, you're doing great' gets me Every. Bloody. Time.


What else has been keeping me busy this week? Ah, Forrest. Little Forrest is absolutely full of cold and bless him, he's having a terribly tough time. He's only just got rid of his last cold but, having started nursery last week, he has picked up a whole new load of germs so it was on the cards. He's been through five outfits today due to explosions of snot, poo, food and vomit. It's been a challenging day

And yes, I said nursery. Two afternoons per week, Forrest has decamped to the local nursery and spent the afternoon charming all the ladies there. Apparently he has been a little angel and has settled in really well. I'm pleased, it has been incredibly hard - he was originally booked in for three full days per week but it didn't take me long to suss out that I wasn't going to let that happen. So two afternoons it is, that's quite enough. Enough time to socialise with the other babies and learn to be away from his ever-present mummy. But not enough time for me to do much work. More on that to come ...

The pictures above are from the past few weeks, I've been a bit slow on the Instagram front. Have I told you about my new notebook? The one I stole, aided and abetted by my miniature partner in crime? Let me set the scene ... I'm in TK Maxx buying baskets of various sizes for storing various things. I pick up two nice new notebooks and pop them into the basket under my pushchair. Get in the queue, get talking to a pregnant lady and her mum about my pushchair, they borrow it for a little push up and down the queue to test it out. Forrest looks a bit worried and starts calling 'mama?!' - everyone 'aaah!'s and laughs at how cute he is, the checkout lady starts asking me all about him ... before I know it I've paid for my baskets and I'm out of there still smiling at how funny it was. I'm back at the car before I realise I've stolen £10 of notebooks and by then, well, after manhandling four baskets the length of the shopping centre, I'm past caring. I'm an actual criminal

And finally, the little mummy partridge that Matt found by the front door. Bless her. Matt was about to start beautifying the front of the house by rebuilding the miniature walls to mount wrought iron railings into (we've kept the originals) when he noticed her, sitting on a little nest of eggs right by the front door. Now, had Matt and I been left to our own devices we reckon we could have saved her and her eggs. But someone gave her a fright, she took off and left her nest, with 14 tiny little eggs in it. Allowing ourselves to be convinced that she wouldn't dare return, we gave her eggs to Matt's dad to put under one of our hens. An hour later she was back, looking for her eggs. It was heartbreaking. I cried (surprise surprise) for that poor mummy partridge. We had to do something, she was sitting right on a patch that needed to be dug up. But I re-learned a valuable lesson that day - don't let a man convince you that he knows what's to do. In any circumstances. He doesn't

And on that wise note, have a great weekend!

Monday, 23 June 2014

The Lincolnshire Show*

I went to school in a rural area and our regular, annual school trip was to The Lincolnshire Show. I loved it, being a horse-mad kid I spent most of the day hanging around the horses (I once saw Michael Whittaker - my teen claim to fame) rather than doing any discernible 'work'. Since leaving school I haven't made it to the Show - the local gundog club used to try to get me involved when I sat on the committee but I was always too busy at work to take a day off

Now that I can be slightly more flexible with my time, I was delighted to be invited along this year and roped in Matt and Forrest to make it a real family day out

I am immensely proud of my home county, not just because it's such a stunningly beautiful place but because we have such a diverse range of talents here. As a predominantly agricultural county, we know our livestock and we certainly know our food! But as well as the livestock classes, the parade of hounds, the mounted games and the drool-inducing food court and demo kitchen, the Show also showcases many other attractions such as horticulture, fashion, chainsaw sculpture, even a motorbike display team. It even has the RAF Falcons freefallling 12,000 feet into the main arena!

We were up and on our way bright and early, with the car filled with baby gear, as seems now to be the way. We arrived and made our way to the food section, obviously

One of Matt's customers was there with the hog roast set up I have heard so much about (apparently we are having one in the garden for all the neighbours when the house is finished!) 

With a goodwill bun in our hands we settled down to appreciate the beauty of a good hog roast - steaming hot, melt in the mouth pork slathered in apple sauce and finished with stuffing

Forrest even tried a bit of pork and was soon shouting for more!

Suitably full, we continued on our merry way around the food stands, stopping to sample (and buy) some delicious cheeses from Lymn Bank Farm

Their 'Just Jane' mature cheddar is one of the best I've tasted (and I've tasted a few!) and is being sold to raise money to get Just Jane, a Lancaster Bomber, back into the skies of Lincolnshire. 

They also produce 'coal cheese' - a cheddar which includes charcoal, making it jet black. Not one you'd want to get stuck in your teeth!

In fact, we spent an indecent amount of time hanging around the cheeses and preserves

But it wasn't long before the lure of tea browsing became too much to bear

And I reintroduced Matt to the joys of iced coffee

We wandered on, taking in the atmosphere and stopping to look at whatever took our fancy. There was literally so much to see and do, and so many people to speak to - it seemed like everyone we knew was in attendance, including most of our neighbours! Forrest's little eyes were almost on stalks, I think it might be the most exciting thing he's ever done!

After admiring the birds of prey we stumbled across the Lincolnshire Beekeepers Association stand and I was fascinated by the dozens of uses for honey and beeswax

I got chatting to a lady beekeeper at the B Skincare stand who explained to me that, though the company is based in Cornwall, they only use Lincolnshire beeswax in all of their products because of it's excellent quality and beautiful pale colour. See? Even our bees are talented!

I had time to sample some honey lemonade (delicious) before realising that it was Forrest's lunchtime. We found a patch of grass to settle ourselves on, popped Forrest's bib on and he enjoyed a spot of lunch

After a bite to eat and a quick nappy change we were off again, this time in search of the animals

The British Charollais sheep were lovely and friendly and had beautiful thick coats

I loved watching the showing classes, it reminded me of my teenage years when I used to spend as many weekends as possible polishing my pony and parading around a local show ring! But there's something so special about the heavy horses, maybe because my mum loved them too. Look at the little woolly foal!

I also spotted this cute cavalier puppy having a lovely day out

After all the horses it was only fair to do some more manly stuff for the boys, so we headed off to the main ring to watch the farm machinery display

All in all we had a fantastic day and I'd highly recommend The Lincolnshire Show as a family day out. I was a bit worried about how we'd get on with a baby but babies and children were really well catered for and the ground was super easy to navigate with the pushchair. I'd like to thank the organisers for their kind invitation and for a wonderful day out

Have you been to any county shows this year? What's your favourite part? It's all about the food and animals for me, as you can see!

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