Monday, 26 March 2012

Holy mackerel they're here

According to those lovely people and handsome farmers at Yeo Valley, summer is officially on its way as the silver shoals of mackerel have already arrived in British waters. It's pretty early this year as they don't normally show their sparkly silver bellies and iridescent blue and grey stripes until June. They'll generally hang around to enjoy our non-balmy waters right through to the end of the summer so there's plenty of time to catch them if you can't get to the coast this weekend.

To enjoy mackerel at it's best head out to catch yourself a bucket and get it on the BBQ as soon as you can. This is a pic taken of us last summer smugly coming out of the water after landing enough mackerel to feed half of Pembrokeshire (that was an exaggeration BTW in case I get any abuse about excessive fishing).

OK so landing yourself a catch isn't an option for most people. You can of course head down to your local shop and get hold of smoked mackerel all year round. My favourite way to enjoy it is to mash it up with a healthy dollop of Yeo Valley double cream (or creme fraiche if you want the healthy option) and a large teaspoon of horseradish. Season with pepper and fresh lemon and load it on to toast. It's got to be a summer top ten.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Monday, 19 March 2012

Forget shadow puppets....

.... this is the real deal. These fantastically painted hands are by the Italian artist Mario Mariotti (1936 1997) who specialised in creating life like hand puppets.

Unless you uncover undiscovered genius you might struggle to create something as realistic as this but they're great inspiration to get kids to give hand painting a go.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Trunky the milk carton elephant

This is Trunky. He's become my son's breakfast table companion. He was my friend Caroline's idea and he is incredibly simple to make. So simple that the only task kids have is to do is to decorate and give him a name.

All you need is an old 4 pint milk bottle (clean unless you want a funky Trunky), a glue stick and anything you want to decorate him with - we used squares cut out from a magazine to give him an Elmo like look. Simply cut off the top half of the milk bottle and hand to your child to get on with making themselves an elephant friend.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Knit happens

Guerilla Knitting, also known as Yarnbombing or Yarnstorming is a trend that has spread from the US, to the UK via Japan and back again. it's a benign type of vandalism whose innocent intentions are to bring a smile to all who see it.

A bit like the close knit group The Shoreditch Sisters who have re-invented the Women's Institute for the 21st century, these intrepid group of spin doctors have given the previously granny owned hobby of knitting a face-lift.

Always one for a good yarn, it was a delight to hear about the latest victim to be needled by the Yarnbombers. Locals in the Yorkshire town of Saltburn-by-the-Sea were in stitches this week when they woke up to find that their pier had received a scarf face lift. The Olympic themed scarf stretched from one end of the pier to the other and featured characters to represent all of the Olympic sports. It's a mystery how the guerilla knitter(s) managed to pull the wool over the eyes of locals whilst they were wrapping the pier up. The problem will of course be if it rains. Hey knit happens.


This is such a brilliantly simple toddler and pre-schooler activity from my lovely friend Emily. The idea is for kids to mix their own potions. It's a banker for rainy days, and keeps Herbie entertained on his own for a good half hour at least.

Kids love it as it has all their favourite ingredients: mess, texture, water and bright colours. All you need to give it a go are some old jam jars, food colouring and any dried lentils or beans that you can spare. Introduce them to the idea of mixing colours into a spare pot and then leave them to explore on their own. It's also great as a follow on from yesterday's 'Rainbow Toast' post. Re-use your coloured milk by introducing it as a game of potions.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Rainbow Toast

A great little idea care of the Teach Pre-school blog - Rainbow Toast. This is particularly ideal if you're persuading a reluctant child to eat their breakfast, though you might be creating a rod for your own back as it could be demanded at all breakfasts there on after. At least they'll be eating.

To give this a go simply pour four or five small cups of milk and add a different food colour to each. Get hold of some clean paintbrushes and get the kids to paint the bread before putting it in the toaster. Butter up and tuck in.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Mother's Day Flowers

Here's a super fast idea if you're stuck for a Mother's Day gift and fancy getting your kids to make something for their mum or gran. It'll save nipping down the garage on Sunday morning and buying a bunch of soggy brown flowers. All you need is some coloured tissue paper, sellotape, and some sticks from the garden or park.

To give it a go, cut your stick to a bloom sized length and then show your kids how to bunch, wrap, tear and shape the tissue paper into blooms at the top of the stick. Finally simply tape it into place. They can then experiment to create different shapes and blends of colours to create a bunch to delight.