Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Give your summer plans a blockbuster edge

If you feel that your summer plans are lacking gravitas, then why not give them a blockbuster edge with this genius little idea by Orange. Load up a one line overview of your summer plans onto the Orange Feed site and you'll be rewarded with your summer adventure read out in true blockbuster style. Go check it out...

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Looking for ideas for a free summer of fun?

Check out yesterday's feature in the Mirror. All taken from The Book of Summer.

Beach activity no. 4: Building a dam

Provides at least an hour or two of entertainment. Start off with the big stones and stuff the gaps with smaller ones and wet sand. Winner.

Beach activity no. 3: Sea fishing

After extensive debate and deliberation over appropriate tackle, tide times and who's going to land the big one, the boys finally headed out for an afternoon fishing. Nick the Stone Skimming Champion and fishing novice, trumped everyone's extensive experience by landing two massive Pollock. The men returned to base like the true hunter gatherers that they are.

If you fancy giving sea fishing a go, below are a few basic tips to get yourself started:
  • First up, make sure you're wearing the right kit. You want waterproofs, shoes with a good grip and a light rucksack to enable safe rock scrambling
  • Next choose your day carefully. Don't head out if it's rainy, the sea is rough or there is any potential of adverse conditions
  • The key to success with any type of fishing is in local knowledge. Head to the local tackle shop and hire or buy yourself the basic kit for the type of fish you're likely to catch. Take the opportunity to get as much local know how as possible. You want to know where to head, what to use and when to do it. These are the boys (or girls) with all the golden fishy nuggets of information that you need
  • Spend some time studying the tide times. You want to be heading out as the tide is well on its way in and be positioned in a safe place that's easy to cast from and that's also over some deep fishy water
  • Finally get yourself tackled up before you leave the house, or at least before you start scrambling down the rocks. The rest is down to luck.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Beach activity no. 1: Skimming stones

So finally our Cornwall staycation is underway. After two days of solid rain in which we've played as many games of Scrabble, Monopoly, Perudo, Cranium, Yahtzee, Fruit Boules and Poker that any sane person could take, we've finally been able to head out to enjoy the delights of the Cornish coast.

This afternoon, after a damp visit to the local Seal Sanctuary to indulge my boyfriend's fetish of aquatic mammals, we were finally honored with blue skies just in time for a creek side seafood lunch of at Helford Passage's Ferryboat Inn.

To help us digest, we rounded the afternoon off with a two hour game of stone skimming, with Nick the Champion Skimmer nailing an impressive fifteen bounces. Some top stone skimming tips featured below:
  • Select a hoard of small flat pebbles, the smaller and rounder the better
  • Stand on the shore or bank and use a flicking motion with your hand so that your pebble bounces across the water. The winner is the person with the most bounces
  • An alternative version is to bounce them across a river so that they land (ideally) in the same spot on the other side.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Super quick guide to making your own bunting

Jeez Louise, I can't believe how much people are charging for bunting. It's criminal, particularly given how easy it is to make. Seriously, if you've never laid your hands on a sewing machine before it's one of the easiest first time projects to have a crack at. You'll need to borrow someone's machine for a few hours and get them to show you how to thread the machine (yawn), but once you've mastered this eternally useful skill then the rest is easy. Never one to guild the lily, this is a fuss free simple guide is to making your own bunting.

First of all get yourself set up with the material you want to make your bunting out of. Given the technicolor nautical nature of our houseboat I went for some bright stripes from Alternatively, I've made lots of wedding bunting using brightly coloured table cloths and materials that I've picked up from charity shops. I can't be arsed with sewing them double sided so try to choose thick material with bright colours on both sides. You'll also need some webbing tape to sew the fabric onto. I like this thick anti-tangle webbing tape, super cheap from here as well.

Next decide on the size of your triangles. I like 'em big so I usually go for about a 30cm drop. Keep it simple and save yourself a whole load of hemming hassle, get yourself some pinking shears (ziggy zaggy scissors) and cut the triangles out.

Once done, stretch your tape out and place your triangles at equal distances along the webbing tape, then fold the tape over and pin these in place. Finally feed through your sewing machine and Bob's your bunting buddy, you're done.

Look how happy Otter the dog looks under hers. Full instructions for this and much more can be found in my newest book, The Book of Summer.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Water babies and river fun for kids

This weekend we had a bunch of friends and their babies join us for a picnic by the river in the gorgeous June sunshine. We plotted ourselves up by a kid friendly stream and let them spend hours entertaining themselves in the water. Herbie our son was insistent on splashing around naked for a good two hours until we had to remove him for fear of hypothermia when he started turning blue. If you fancy getting your kids out enjoying our waterways, here are a few activities to get them stuck in:

  • Mud pies - the can't be beaten classic. Give them a bucket and spade and that'll keep them entertained for a good hour
  • River dipping and stone tipping - give them a plastic tub and a net and see what they can find
  • Bobbing for fish - put some bread or a piece of bacon on the end of a line with a hook and get them to bob this gently up and down where you know there are fish that will be interested
  • Stone painting - if the water's too cold to get in, get them to collect some stones to decorate
  • Make a water periscope - by following these simple instructions
  • Have a boat building competition - using the contents of your recycling bin. Whoever's boat floats the longest wins
  • Build a candle powered putt putt boat - if you fancy raising your boat building game, then get the kids to have a go at building their own brilliant candle powered Putt Putt Boat
  • Have a game of duck bingo - make a card that features pictures of the commonly found ducks and geese in your area. When they spot one, get them to cross it off their card. The first person to spot all those on their card wins.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Sunday Telegraph My Space

A piece in Sunday's Telegraph about my favorite summer spot, out on our deck. See the full article here.