Claremont Landscape Garden

We visited Claremont in early February for a family day out and had such a lovely time, it has inspired what I hope will be a regular series of posts here. I always love to read about what other people do in their free time, especially if it inspires adventures of our own.IMG_5791IMG_5810It was chilly (see the birds standing on the ice?) but bright and Claremont is a lovely little place to visit for a breath of fresh air, beautiful views and (as with all National Trust places) excellent cake in the cafe. I think photos will do it more justice than words so here are a few more…

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IMG_5803We are NT members so entry was free, but the website lists prices at £8 per adult and £4 per child. I’d say for a day out that would be a little pricey for us but with membership it is a bargain. There is a lovely wooden playground with a castle and a bridge, and the little one loved pottering around near the birds by the lake. As you can see, they’re pretty tame. In the woods you’ll stumble across lots of sculptures, and a thatched cottage with 19th century games and costumes (for the children!). There’s a nine pin bowling alley near the top of the hill, a lake, a tower and an amazing turf amphitheatre. And again, the cakes really do deserve a second mention…

Chinese New Year dinner party

Where have the last couple of weeks gone? Life has been bright around here – solo steps being taken (the little one), a new job started, friends seen, projects organised, muffins baked, a new game…

So I thought I’d pop by today to share a quick project I did on Saturday morning. We had invited friends over for a Chinese new year dinner party. I visited the oriental food shop in our town for the first time and it was the loveliest experience, the lady was so friendly and helpful. We served duck and pancakes for starters, followed by slow cooker Honey Sesame Chicken, and then finished up with some sweet nibbles from the shop, mainly picked up because I thought it would be fun to get people to guess their names and what was in them – “Peanut Dainties” and “Green Tea Mochi”.

Each course was followed by a quick (sometimes tenuously) Chinese themed game. It was so lovely to squeeze eight of us around the table and spend the evening enjoying ourselves. Something to build on if I remember my one little word!

IMG_5950To make it a Dinner Party rather than just a dinner, I put out some candles, napkins and these place cards. I already had the cards from a family gathering last year, and used my new watercolours to do some little pictures on each one. It took about an hour to do all eight, and some people took theirs home (no higher compliment!), so I just had these five left to photograph this morning. It was such a fun little project, and I am filled with respect for the people who did the originals – after a few failed attempts at replicating these I decided plants were easier than fish!