More on the theme of adventure, when a blow-in slid out of a newspaper last weekend. From the National Trust, it was entitled “50 things to do before you are 11 ¾”.

 Six were listed inside – Go swimming in the sea, Track wild animals, Make a daisy chain, Roll down a really big hill, Catch a fish with a net, Build a den and as I chatted to Little Boots we discussed the flyer, the six activities listed and since they could all be claimed how many of the others might be too. So I went off, looked up the NT site and printed the list.

 Back in the living room LB and I went through them ticking the ones that had been accomplished. When we’d finished, I asked LB to guess how many had been done.” About twenty came the reply”. The actual total was thirty. It was a number we were both impressed with. The fifty were divided into five groups of ten headed Adventurer, Discoverer, Ranger, Tracker, Explorer and on the first of these LB had ticked nine off, with the one remaining being Play Conkers and this high-lighted something interesting.

Whilst LB had done several things I could only dream of as a child (Canoe down a river!), there were a number of things that we did all the time as kids, that my modern child does not. it’s slightly curious, although I am genuinely pleased LB has done so many of the activities on the list.

Completing some others might be a good way to plan some adventures this summer. It’d be nice to get up to fifty, and perhaps even beyond by inventing some extra categories of our own.

This is the full list & the NT site is linked above

Level 1 – Adventurer

1.Climb a tree

2. Roll down a really big hill

3.Camp out in the wild

4. Build a den

5. Skim a stone

6.Run around in the rain

7.Fly a kite

8.Catch a fish with a net

9.Eat an apple straight from a tree

10.Play conkers

Level 2 – Discoverer

11.Go on a really long bike ride

12.Make a trail with sticks

13.Make a mud pie

14.Dam a stream

15.Play in the snow

16.Make a daisy chain

17.Set up a snail race

18.Create some wild art

19.Play pooh sticks

20.Jump over waves

Level 3 – Ranger

21.Pick blackberries growing in the wild

22.Explore inside a tree

23.Visit a farm

24.Go on a walk barefoot

25. Make a grass trumpet

26.Hunt for fossils and bones

27.Go star gazing

28.Climb a huge hill

29.Explore a cave

30.Hold a scary beast

Level 4 – Tracker

31. Hunt for bugs

32.Find some frogspawn

33.Catch a falling leaf

34.Track wild animals

35.Discover what’s in a pond

36.Make a home for a wild animal

37.Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool

38.Bring up a butterfly

39.Catch a crab

40.Go on a nature walk at night

Level 5 – Explorer

41.Plant it, grow it, eat it

42.Go swimming in the sea

43.Build a raft

44.Go bird watching

45.Find your way with a map and compass

46.Try rock climbing

47.Cook on a campfire

48.Learn to ride a horse

49.Find a geocache

50.Canoe down a river


Sometimes you go to things eagerly, and they are disappointing. A good example of that would be when a few years ago we went to see Jason Byrne, alleged to be a comedian and also one that according to a review was a mix of Spike Milligan and the Duracell Bunny. What the piece failed to point out was that this meant he had as little surreal humour as the Duracell bunny and was as funny as one of Spike Milligan’s most depressive episodes. It was an experience that my friends similarly depressed, and me more so since I had persuaded them to come along.

Contrariwise – is that a real word or a made up one that I have in my head courtesy of Lewis Caroll? –  there are things you don’t want to go to and which end up great. A watery example of the latter happen to me on Thursday morning. I was laid in bed at 6 a.m. really not wanting to get up and go tothe RHS Hampton Court Flower Show.

Two things in my mind made this a bad idea. One, it was 6 a.m. Two, I was fairly sure it was going to rain heavily at some point. There was a third that crept in as I dropped my head onto the pillow -I could spend the day at home on my own – after a pretty stiff week at work that’d be just the ticket. But, no, that wouldn’t do. I said I’d go. So I set off with the firm expectation that the day would be a bit grim, but consoling myself with the thought that I had my Gardens Illustrated umbrella, with it’s magical shamanistic power that meant whenever, and wherever I carried it, it never rained.

Things started to go a bit wonky from early on. I was on the second of the three trains I needed to catch when I realised I forgotten my lunch. I was more pissed off that I wouldn’t be eating the especially nice bread rolls I’d bought and filled the night before, than that I’d have to spend a ridiculous amount for not brilliant food at the food.

Getting to the show went smoothly enough and Tim the contractor’s foreman was pleased to see me as the designer was not on site and he “knew nothing about plants”.

Grabbing a coffee, I was a bit miffed at paying four quid for a pretty crappy bacon roll, but more so when it started to rain and then for no reason my camera died on me.

Not only did my talismanic umbrella fail to ward off the rain, it failed to keep it off of me as it quickly got soaked and started leaking.

The sun came out and dried us off a bit, only for it to really start hammering down.

By the time it finished I was soaked to the skin right down my back thanks to my un-umbrella. It was by now lunchtime and although starving I wasn’t looking forward to what was on offer – and the cost of it – something not helped by a call from my OH to say my sandwich rolls were delicious.

Despite all this I had enjoyed the morning talking to people about the garden and plants, and it was helped further by having some good banter with Tim from the contractors, a genuinely lovely bloke and fine company.

By now the designer was on site and let us into the secret of the RHS Exhibitors’ food area. Nicer, cheaper food than I would have otherwise afforded, with plenty of space to sit down – although I have to say that the coriander on the new potatoes was a mistake – did they have a rookie in the kitchen who got it mixed up with parsley?

After lunch Tim and I took a wander around the show gardens, which I found a bit mixed, and I had a chat with someone I vaguely know who had done one of the Concept Gardens which was a surprise for us both.

I then put in a bit more time back manning the plot and realised that I really love this – talking to people about the design and the plants, offering suggestions and bits of advice when asked for it, and learning things from them.

By mid-afternoon the sun had come out and although it did little to dry the site out except make the mud stickier, it was hot enough to burn my skin.

So I returned home tired, sunburnt and slightly muddy, but having had a pretty good day, despite my expectations to the contrary.

It had even been funnier than Jason Byrne.

I got caught in the rain last Thursday.

Not like me, as I normally have my umbrella.

It’s the one thing that cheers me up when it’s raining. Not because it keeps me dry – which it does admirably – but because it reminds me of Little Boots.

Last year, after I’d expressed some vague admiration for an umbrella featured in a magazine, the OH ordered one in time for Christmas.

Fortuitously it arrived when I was out and was duly wrapped by OH & LB.

From a child’s perspective this was clearly a rather crap present and, with some kind of pre-school kind of “do unto others…” thing troubling the conscience, said little mite marched up to the sofa where I was sat.

“Do you want an umbrella for Christmas?”

“That would be great,” I replied with a grin.

“OK,“ said shortstuff, clearly puzzled by an adult pleased with what was to the younger mind a really rubbish present, but also happy that it was a good gift.

“Don’t go in my wardrobe!“ warned the munchkin and marched off.

“Hmmm,” I thought. “So I’ve got an umbrella. Now how do I persuade the little beggar to inadvertently spill on the rest?”

Nothing worked.

This morning I woke, having had the first decent night’s sleep for three weeks, to find the rain has returned.

It hasn’t rained for so long that it’s not enough of course, just as one good sleep isn’t, but I have decided to be positive and view both as a sign of better things on the horizon.

I’ve been at a fairly low ebb at times, getting really fed up at what is pretty much the loss of a whole month. Included amongst those dark moments was fretting about a number of plants that were long overdue for planting out a month ago. At the same time I reassured myself with the thought that they would have died because of the lack of rain, and my illness.

I’m not the only one eager to get planting. Little Boots came home Friday demanding to know,  “Have we got any bulbs?”

“Light bulbs? Or for the garden?” (with LB you never know).

“The garden. Today is the day for planting them!” (they had been planting bulbs at school.)

I said we didn’t have any and that we need to get some.

Now that the munchkin on the case I will have to buy bulbs soon. Not that I didn’t have plans to, but there seemed little point when it would have needed a kango to get them in the ground.

I just need to persuade Little Boots to pick something a bit less garish than the big ugly daffodils, that usually grab first attention, along with another usual chioce of bloody great big alliums, which though amazing cost a bomb.


I did so much on Sunday I can barely believe it – normally I just seem to charge around and achieve nothing.

Little Boots didn’t wake up too early for a change. I think Summer Hols are proving a bit exhausting, as the perisher just sat watching TV and reading for most of the morning. Meanwhile I got on with a mountain of washing up, while alternating between that, sorting the recycling, and sawing and treating some wood for a shelf on the greenhouse staging what I built.

At this point Little Boots demanded I make a cannon from the wildly disparate bits and pieces that had been wombled together from around the house. We ended up making crossbow that fired plastic corks out of some pieces of a wooden train track, elastic bands, masking tape and a peg.

After lunch we set off for a garden centre. I only wanted a couple of seed trays (the sort without holes), but ended up also buying some salad seeds, a rather jazzy Phormium, that Little Boots insisted on for the jungle area, and another Sempervivum, for the collection that I’m in denial about

We then dropped off some RHS notes and huge canister of slug pellets, I’d unearthed during “Operation Clear The Greenhouse“, at a friend’s place. Unfortunately my friend wasn’t in, although that’s probably just as well as she’d have had conniptions to see LB, anywhere near her greenhouse with the crossbow.

After stopping on the way home to do some recycling and then shopping we arrived back and whilst I got on with fitting the greenhouse shelf LB got on with lying in ambush and pinging me with corks everytime I appeared in the open.

I also managed later to squeeze in a spell down the allotment and came away with lots of bits and pieces. Not enough for anything other than a stir fry, but at the risk of sounding smug it contained garlic, chilli, red onion, French beans, runner beans, carrots (Little Boot’s own Red Dragons), cabbage, perpetual beet, chard and coriander.

Actually risk be damned – I am smug – even 48 hours later.


brolleyTypical. Bloody typical.

Gorgeous sunny weather all week and then when I have a day all to myself, with plans to do all sorts of good things in the garden it’s grey and wet.

Of course we need some rain as it’s been very dry for the last few weeks, but that doesn’t really make me feel any happier.

Even the arrival of my Chelsea tickets didn’t lift my spirits much. chelsea