the rambles of a family of five in Australia


now he is two!

All the lovely birthday cards – E knows who sent each one!
Banana caramel cupcakes (a re-jig of the 1st birthday recipe!)

We can’t quite believe it ourselves, but our little princeling is two today! Two years ago H wouldn’t have believed she could make it through another ‘Feed. Play. Sleep.’ cycle, let alone until the weekend, let alone getting to the big second birthday.

Playing with his bulldozer in the garden – just where Daddy had planted our veg patch…
Don’t try to get between a little boy and his lamb…

But here we are (and here he is!) and we are so proud and thankful for the blessing that E is in our lives. We are thankful that we’ve been privileged to hear his first words, Mum, Dad, Tractor; see him cut his first teeth; walk; run; jump; giggle; laugh; demonstrate independence (I can climb the fence and touch the electric wire – 3 times in one day) as well as a need to be protected (I will lie on my back 4 feet from the electric fence and sob bitterly until someone comes to reassure me that I’m ok – 3 times in one day); share family mealtimes; say grace together; read Bible stories on the couch; read any stories anywhere; talk about what God has made; sing songs in the car and watch him do the actions in the rearview mirror; have cuddles; teach him to walk instead of being carried everywhere; have him try to ‘fix Daddy’s bike’ or paint a wall or clean the toilet (and actually try to do it properly!); and all the myriad other things that have been a blessing; joy; headache and source of consternation. In short, we love having E as our son and couldn’t imagine ourselves without him.

In Sydney & Nannie’s garden, looking at the cherry trees
Making new acquaintances with the stone animals

Thank you Heavenly Father for the gift of life and blessing of children.

Our blue-eyed boy

Thank you E for teaching us so much about joy, patience and perseverance.

Enjoying his birthday pudding of strawberries, caramel and greek yoghurt

Having been given a dinner-set, E proceeds to drink as much coffee as he can hold.

Putting his new workbench together with Daddy
Getting busy fixing things

Thank you family and friends for leading by example; giving us life lessons and letting us get on with it – we love you too!

Road-testing his new scuttlebug from Nan-Nan.


fun things to do on a Saturday when it’s fine

Enjoying some family time at Stoke Bruerne

Lately we have been enjoying getting out and about in the English countryside on a Saturday – trying to make the most of the glorious weather and the freedom that having a toddler (as opposed to a baby!) brings.

A view from the Blisworth Tunnel down toward Stoke Bruerne

We have been going for walks in our local area – discovering rivers, meadows, waterfowl and the famous MK redways. We have also returned to familiar haunts – one of our favourites of which is Stoke Bruerne – home to the Canal Museum and about nine locks inside a kilometre – so lots of activity to watch when the narrow boats make their way up the river.

Narrowboats moored at SB

One of the most frustrating things about winter weather here is the lack of opportunity to get outside and take some exercise – particularly for R as it gets dark at 4pm and is usually bitterly cold. H & E can generally get out – even to wander round Midsummer Place and get some indoor exercise – but R doesn’t have their moments of leisure. So spring weather and light have been a real blessing and given us all some time to be together outside in the fresh air – rather than cooped inside.

E wouldn’t get on this horse, but consented to ride in the cart!

E loves waterfowl of all kinds – particularly the interactive swans at SB…
One of our favourite places to take friends for lunch – The Boat Inn.
One of the rides on Wakefield
A country lane in spring – just past Stony Stratford
…when all at once I saw a crowd, a host of golden daffodils…
The Ouse River Walk (pronounced ‘ooze’)
H @ 36 weeks and 4 days…!

So rest assured, if you decide to come for a visit in fine weather there is plenty to occupy you and we will delight in taking you for all our favourite local walks. If you come in winter, you too can huddle under blankets, eat loads of starch and play boardgames – either way – we’d love to see you!


a-hunting we will go, a-hunting we will go…

The Lodge

A favourite film scene of mine has always been the fox hunt which Mary Poppins, Bert the chimney-sweep and Michael and Jane Banks get caught up in while in one of Bert’s chalk pavement pictures. I’m not sure if it is the charming mix of animation and real-life actors, the music or the comical animals that make it so enjoyable for me, even now as an adult.

Recently, we had the opportunity to lurk on the edges of the local Hunt’s Meet, prior to the commencement of the actual hunt itself. Due to the ban on fox-hunting which is in place in England, there were scent trails laid, rather than the hunt searching out an actual fox.

The weather itself was glorious: sunshine beamed down, the breeze was no more than a zephyr and we found ourselves scenting spring on the air, rather than frost and snow.

The Meet

 We walked up to the Lodge and stood on the ha-ha (a walled embankment above a field) to watch the hunt meet. The horses were enormous and high-spirited – great fun to watch – and their riders were decked out in glorious costume. (Not really costume, but the outfits dictated by custom.) We even spotted a lovely lady riding side-saddle in a fabulous skirted riding-habit – quite as if she had stepped from the pages of an Austen novel. Riding hats are merely hats here – not helmets (it’s not even compulsory to wear a bicycle helmet when riding on the road here!) – so there were various modes of headgear: top hats, bonnets; caps etc.

Taking some final instructions…

The hounds were brought up after about half an hour or so, by the Master of the Hounds/Kennels, and they were gorgeous. Liver and white and thigh high when standing on all fours they were inquisitive, boisterous and utterly consumed by the need to explore. The home-made sausage rolls and glasses of port being handed around were safe only on horseback or in the hands of the very confident. E was captivated and desperate to get closer to the ‘dogs!’ until he was licked in the face, which made him more timid. (N.B. Never let anyone hear you say ‘Dogs’. They must always be referred to as ‘Hounds’.)

When it was time for the hunt to set off we got to see the Master of the Kennels in action. He had such amazing control of the whole pack of 20 or so hounds that he could look at one who was baying softly and say ‘Shhh’ with his finger to his lips, and the hound would stop. Only once did we see one hound continue, at which point it was flicked on the nose (by the Master, who was on horseback) with a piece of cord, and then it did hush!

The hounds led off the hunt – searching for a scent to follow – and were then followed by the riders. We saw them hither and yon across the estate for most of the day after that and it was a bit of a thrill to hear the horn being winded and to be part of our own Mary Poppins moment.

E rediscovering sunshine