Sunday, January 31, 2010

St Saviour's Reservoir

B2 came home on Friday with weather predictions of snow over the weekend. You must excuse me, but we at Bumble Bee Cottage, are now very, very skeptical of any predictions of snow - it is always predicted but never eventuates!

We have been attempting to get the Bumble B'eers out and about on Sundays, despite the appalling (well to an Aussie girl) temperatures. This Sunday we headed off at 9.00am and arrived at our destination approximately 20 minutes later - the St Saviour's Reservoir. Here we found evidence of B2's promised snow.

The south of the Island always seems to get the lion's share of the white stuff - smattering that it is. There was enough snow to make the walk along the top of the Reservoir wall quite slippery and dangerous; just the way the kids like it :)

9.32am the view across the Reservoir from the top of the wall

I love this photo. I never seem to be able to capture reflections very well but I managed to pull it off this morning. It was so still but sadly not that quiet as we came across at least twenty other walkers with the same early morning walk aspirations.

B1 asked if you used this when you were drowning. I said yes, as long as there is someone there to throw it to you :)

It was such a wonderful walk. One of those days you will remember long into old age. The walk around the Reservoir is a good one for small children as the complete circuit only takes about one hour and ten minutes at a gentle stroll. The whinging usually starts at the half way point and by then we can truthfully answer that is will be quicker if we continue on rather than turning back now.

These are some of the largest trees I have seen in Guernsey. During the Occupation the Nazis cut down nearly ever tree on the Island to use for heating.

These were the first daffodils I have seen this year. You can just make out the fat buds ready to burst open and reveal the pure, heart lifting, sunniness of February Daffodils. Their arrival chases away my Winter blues very effectively.

We did manage to scrape together a few, rather gritty, snowballs. One of which B2 landed squarely on my forehead - much to Mr Bee's amusement. One of the most interesting things this morning was our discovery that mud freezes! This does of course make perfect sense; an object full of water should be able to freeze but we had just never seen it before. When I say frozen it is not hard like ice but more hard like a chewy lolly/sweet - when pressed it has a bit of give. Yes, yes I know small things amused small minds and all that but considering that Brisbane Winters are the same temperature as Guernsey Summers I think it is an amazing thing to see.

This is the view across the fields towards the Reservoir.

This is the same field, taken from a slightly different angle, in early March in 2009. Mmmmm that's better; roll on Spring.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rocquaine Bay

After weeks and weeks of grey the Sun finally burst through the clouds this afternoon; so we made the most of it and took the Bumble B'eers for a stroll on Rocquaine Bay.

You can just see the Imperial Hotel in the distance. I understand that it has recently been refurbished and judging by the amount of people in the restaurant the food must be tasty too.

I never get tired of peering into rock pools. Rock Pooling is quite a big childhood past time here in Guernsey and many of the Beach Kiosk sell 'Rock Pooling Nets', which are lightweight with large brightly coloured nets on the end of a very long, usually bamboo, handle; so you can capture that uncooperative crab which is just out of reach! I had never heard of it before moving here. I have seen a few rock pools on Queensland beaches but most of the beaches at home are long stretches of sugary white sand with few rocks. Our kids love to see what they can find.

On this particular outing Mr Bee found a stray oyster washed up on shore but was too worried about food poisoning to eat it. This of course meant a challenge to the Bumble B'eers to see who could find the biggest and the most. We managed to find four oysters about half the size of your hand. Their shells were sealed tightly and were probably just a few shellfish making a bid for freedom from one of the local oyster farms in the area but they all were put back in their watery home; unlike the find fellows from one of my favourite poems:

'But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat--
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn't any feet'

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."

(excerpts from 'The Walrus and the Carpenter' by Lewis Carroll 1872)

You can see Fort Grey - the Shipwreck Museum, in the distance. The sky was such a glorious shade of blue and the Sun such a welcome sight that it scarcely mattered that it was only 6.5*C.

These amazing daredevils showed up just as we were ending our walk. The launched themselves from the top of the rock wall (and hoped for the best!). The pilots were suspended in a sort of seat with a leg covering. Not my idea of fun but they were fabulous to watch and made for a lovely end to the afternoon.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Fort Pezeries

The weather let up its frosty bitey onslaught briefly the other day so we seized upon the opportunity to take the Bumble B'eers for a walk. We drove down the coast to the car park at the Imperial Hotel in the South of the Island. We walked along the coast, one of the only car-free walks on the Island and came across Fort Pezeries. It is number One on the Guernsey History Trail.

You can click on the picture to enlarge it if you would like the historic information to be easier to read.

Looking back across Rocquaine Bay -if you enlarge the photo you can see Fort Grey, another of Guernsey's historic monuments. It actually houses a ship wreck museum. Mr Bee and I paid it visit when we came to Guernsey for his job interview, sans kids. It is a lovely museum but the site is a little dangerous for small children and B3 has a history of just taking off. As a result we have not yet taken the Bumble B'eers there but this Summer I think everyone will be old enough. Fort Grey is only open during the warmer months as you need to walk across a causeway to get there and I imagine it is a little cold and wet during the Winter months.

Across Rocquaine Bay you can see one of the larger German fortifications on the Island. I believe this one, near Lihou Island, is open to the public a few times a year. Next time it is open I think we'll pop in there as well.

Friday, January 15, 2010

It's a Man. It's a Plane. It's....

a large Bronze Cow!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

It's a Landslide - Run for your Lives!

I love Guernsey. It never fails to amaze and intrigue me. Take this sign for example; we came across it whilst driving near the Reservoir the other day.

It reads:



Pedestrians on Road'

The exclamation mark says it all. That is a really large exclamation mark - take note of this sign it is very, very important to your safety.

I'm so glad the sign was there. We may have been buried at any moment!!!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Colourful Cupcakes

On the Snow Days off school last week we made cupcakes. B1 was at a friend's house to play for the afternoon so the girls and I baked and decorated a batch of cakes.

B3's cakes

They choose the icing colours and decorated the cakes themselves - sampling everything along the way, of course, just to be sure it tasted good!

B2's cakes

B2 had been asking me to do some baking with them for a few weeks, so she was very please when I suggested it. The crazy thing is that although B2 absolutely loves helping me bake she does not have a really sweet tooth and ended up giving away two of her four cakes; give her a jar of stuffed olives however and you would be lucky to get a look in!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wicked Hot Chocolate

It has been so cold these last few weeks I decided a little delicious surprise was in order so I made everyone some hot chocolate.

Each of the Bumbe B'eers has their own special mug. B1 has a monkey.

B2 has a giraffe and B3 has an owl. I found them on Australian EBay a few years ago and as they were being sold as a set of three for the fabulous price of $11 AUD delivered I snapped them up.

I try to make things special for the kids and having something 'grown up' i.e. breakable/not melamine, like a stoneware mug all of their own adds to that. The mugs are similar enough not to cause fights about whose is bigger/better/ holds more hot chocolate, but different enough to make it something all of their own.

I remember going to visit my cousins in Cairns as a child and they each had their own special Bunnykins china breakfast bowl - how I loved those bowls. I believe happy memories created in childhood stay with us as adults and tend to make the seemingly ordinary, like an old mug, special and bring a smile when you think about them.

When I say this is 'wicked' hot chocolate I mean WICKED. It is a recipe of my own design...but I am willing to share.

Wicked Hot Chocolate

250g bar of dark chocolate

1 litre of 'Red' Guernsey Dairy milk; if you can't guess this, which most of you won't unless you live in Guernsey, extra creamy milk will serve the same purpose or normal milk but add a bit of cream (well I did say it was wicked, didn't I)

1 can of Whipped cream or whip your own

The all important sprinkles to top it off

Take one 250g bar of dark chocolate and melt in in a saucepan over a very gentle heat. Do not bother about a double boiler for this but DO NOT walk away from it either, keep stirring it lovingly to ensure it does not burn. Pour a small amount of milk in and whisk until smooth. Keep adding the milk a little at a time, whisking in between. Heat the mix until it is steaming hot but not a bubbling boil. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream and sprinkles.

WARNING: Do not give this to small children after 2.00pm in the afternoon if you expect them to go to sleep at a reasonable hour that night!

The Bumble B'eers had three serves of the whipped cream before they got around to drinking the hot chocolate.

I was told it was 'The best Hot Chocolate ever!!' and B3 gave me a high-five and said 'Yum, good girl!' So I guess this means they liked it :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Snow Day Hama Beading

We all sat down last week on one of the kid's Snow Days (without the snow) off school and spent a few hours doing Hama Beading.

They take a surprisingly long time to do, but I must say the time goes fairly quickly as everyone has a nice chat with the only squabbling being over who is hogging which colour bead. I got in big trouble for using up all the white! It is lovely to be able to talk together as a family without any distractions; I suppose it is a bit sad that we need an excuse to all sit in the one spot, but life always seems to get in the way - school, work, cooking, cleaning, DS, after school activities, friends, TV, ironing, washing, collapsing in the couch...

I made the hippo, B1 made the Alien and the square Heart, as a present for me :), B2 made the Snowman, of her own design, and B3 made the Rainbow Butterfly.

Who knew ironing bits of plastic could be so enjoyable ;P

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pay It Forward parcels have arrived

A big thankyou to Diane of Heart Shaped and Julie of KC's Court for participating in my 'Pay It Forward'. Both ladies have now received their parcels so I can now post about it without ruining the surprise.

I posted the parcels in the week before Christmas but unfortunately they did not arrive until after Christmas Day. I included a few little Christmas Teddies in Diane's parcel.

Julie received a few Santa's for her ever growing collection of the Fat Man in Red.

I wanted to send something from Guernsey so both ladies received some Guernsey Cream Toffees. I can personally voucher for these they are delicious :)

I am one of the sewing challenged but I am not too bad with paper so I made Christmas cards instead of wounding myself with a needle and thread.

I made two different cards. The first was this little, chubby Penguin. At least I can now see the point in 'cold' themed Christmas cards; when you are sending cards in Australia and they are covered in snowy scenes but the temperature outside is 37*C it seems a little ridiculous!

And the second was this Christmas Teddy. I sent a mixed pack of the two different cards, together with matching envelopes. I am so pleased that both the ladies liked the gifts and I hope they get use of the cards next Christmas.

I am still looking for one more participant in my Pay It Forward. The way it works is that I will send a hand made gift to a volunteer who will then send a hand made gift on to three more volunteers and it perpetuates from there.

If you would like to participate in this please leave a comment, stating that you want tp participate, on this post and I will send you an Easter themed parcel - so hop to it (sorry I couldn't resist!)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Old Weather Knee Worked!

My friend M told me yesterday at school that Friday night would be the night for snow and looks like she was correct - that old weather knee of hers is worth its weight in gold. Perhaps she should freelance for the Met Office then they might get their weather predictions right more often!

The snow started to fall at Bumble Bee Cottage at about 6.30am and it has been snowing on and off all morning. These photos were taken at 8.30am.

It would have to snow for quite a few hours to get enough to make a snowman but we are hopeful :)

This is the most snow we have had all week. There have been flurries blowing on the wind off and on for the past few days but nothing constant like this. The Bumble B'eers ended up having two days off school and went back yesterday, much to their disgust. We had a note home yesterday asking parents to check Islands FM on Monday morning to see if the schools will be closed again. It is a very novel concept, schools closing because of the weather. In Australia the only reason schools might close because of the weather is a cyclone or possibly a Bush Fire, something not likely to occur in this part of the world.

People in the UK would find our smattering of snow a bit of a joke after the BIG FREEZE they have been enduring over the last week, with temperatures plummeting below -22*C. All the same we are very excited here in Bumble Bee Cottage.

Come on your Easterly French Wind blow some more snow our way :P

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Did you hear the screaming?

7.43am The phone rings and it my friend M calling to tell me that all Island schools have been....


The squealing of the Bumble B'eers did reverberate off the walls to say the least, only one day back at school after the Christmas break; you could probably hear the parents groaning mingled in there somewhere.
We had 2mm of snow yesterday and it nearly ground the Island to a halt. Journeys to work which normally took people 15 minutes took up to 2hours and 5 minutes (according to Islands FM).

All the photos in this post were taken at 9.35am yesterday, so the dusting of snow had started to melt and freeze into ice; just enough snow to make things dangerous but not enough to make them fun :(

Yesterday I kept a careful eye on both the 'BBC Guernsey' and the 'This is Guernsey' websites to see if we were expecting more snow. I went to the shops to stock up on milk, bread, meat, vegetables and butter and eggs (so the Bumble B'eers and I can make a few cakes as cakes cure all house bound boredom didn't you know!) 'just in case'.

Last night the Islands was put on ORANGE alert, which is the second highest alert, behind RED I suppose. So I sent Mr Bee out to buy and emergency bottle of wine, 'just in case' :P

They can not salt the roads in Guernsey, as they do in the UK, due to the problems of the salt getting into the water catchment area. They use grit instead but apparently it will only work once the snow has stopped falling and has been compacted, otherwise the grit just falls beneath the snow and is totally ineffective.

We were supposed to get snow last night but we woke up to only a few half melted patches this morning.

The weather person (we must be politically correct mustn't we?) has advised that we should expect more snow and THUNDER this afternoon. Most Australians would not find the presence of thunder a noteworthy weather event but in the two and a half years we have lived here I have only heard thunder in Guernsey three times, so in Guernsey it counts as unusual.

The Bumble B'eers are happily Hama Beading away and squabbling over who is using up all the white beads - a highly prized colour apparently! Mr Bee has gone to work on his bike as usual, ignoring my request that he work from home; there have been alot of Black Ice warnings on roads and footpaths. He has promised if snow starts to fall in earnest he will walk home rather than cycle. The Powers That Be have advised people not to drive unless they absolutely have to so we are staying put. I have never had a car accident and I would like to keep it that way.

The Bumble B'eers are dreaming of snowmen later in the day. I hope their wishes come true.......but only after Mr Bee is safely home.