This first appeared as my column Nellie Knows in The Wokingham Paper
Loving the stress free mornings of the school holidays and the lack of routine, the house is full of people, the cupboards are bare and the garden is my sanctuary.
Reading. I finished In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware late one night, when the house was quiet and I could hear every creak and rattle which possibly wasn't a good idea as it was a dark, intense and gripping read. I then changed genres and read a proof copy of Rachael Lucas' Wildflower Bay which I can highly recommend. Rachael's first book Sealed With A Kiss was a delight, her second book Coming Up Roses was equally so, Wildflower Bay is so well written one could almost believe you're actually there and the good news is it's out in paperback on 11 August so you've not got long to wait!
After that, no idea! It's Henley Literary Festival next month so I have been poring over the schedule and am looking forward to hearing and meeting the authors and getting my hands on a few signed copies.
Out and about. There's a new coffee shop and pottery painting place in Sandhurst called Mad Hatters which is run by the powerhouse that is Fiona who also runs Leap Frog Ceramics in Warfield, Mad Hatters in Tilehurst and Crema Coffee in Binfield. Pottery painting is less stressful now the children are older and less inclined to daub paint any old how. I'd like to say my painting has got better too, I knew that Art O Level would come in handy sometime! We've also been tootling around having treats all over the place and can highly recommend The Blackbird in Bucklebury, Wellington Farm Shop just off the A33 and The Quince Tree in Stonor. The Quince Tree also operates at The River & Rowing Musuem at Henley so we can combine a walk along the river, a play in the park and a tasty snack afterwards. Of course half the fun of no routine means we can head off for impromptu picnics so my Hinza bag is packed with tasty treats and the Outdoor Lounge really comes into its own. Of course one thing I don't forget to pack is a plastic bag for waste and litter.
Of course being a dog owner means lots of walks and we've been venturing far and wide for strolls. Avebury by the stones is a favourite place that we've not been to for a while. My tip is to get there early or late as during the day the car park is heaving. Armed with poo bags, a large bottle of water and a lead we all head off for a stomping good walk and now have a list of good places to find blackberries.
Litter. One of my bugbears and sadly all too evident. It riles me that people don't take their stuff home with them or find a bin to dispose of it safely. Wokingham Litter Heroes posted a photo on their Facebook page of bags of discarded litter at Elms Field they had picked up which made my blood boil. There's no excuse for laziness whatsoever. Same goes for fly tipping. I've said it before and I'll say it again we are very lucky to have a brilliant waste facility at Bracknell and Reading that as borough residents we are entitled to use. The staff are friendly and helpful and I suspect groan when I appear with my garden waste and other oddments. I've recently got a brown recycling bin which is a godsend.
School shoes. It's nearly that time when parents and children are guaranteed to fall out. My lot have always worn Start Rite shoes, the fit is better for their feet and they're long lasting. That said I've yet to find another pair of shoes that don't scuff, I did find a pair in France years ago that had rubber toes and heels but I've not seen any since.
Anyway, I'm going to delay that outing for a while and enjoy time with family and friends. Hope you do too.