What a beautiful month May was! The weather throughout has been absolutely fantastic, even over both Bank Holiday weekends, which is pretty much unheard of here in the UK. We’ve had almost constant clear blue skies, the most glorious sunshine AND it’s mostly been really warm – I can’t even begin to describe how good it’s felt to finally shed the boots and jumpers in favour of TShirts and ballet pumps, and to soak up the wonderful warmth on my sun-hungry skin. It seemed like we skipped straight over Spring and dived headfirst into Summer and I, for one, am absolutely not complaining. I’ve come to the conclusion that I am most definitely solar-powered.
We’ve really been trying to take advantage of this unexpected and very welcome bonus sunshine in between all the busy-ness of day to day school and working life. We’ve made it a priority to get out and about as much as possible: long walks and exploring new places as well as old favourites; soaking up the Vitamin D; delighting in the smatterings of freckles gradually emerging on faces sticky with ice cream; noticing faint tan lines beginning to appear where TShirts and socks are worn and spending time after school playing in the garden for longer than usual.
May is always my favourite month anyway (along with September) – with two bank holidays, an abundance of gorgeous blossom, two birthdays to celebrate and half term right at the end of it giving us a taste of what true Summer promises to bring…what’s not to love?! We’ve had plenty of adventures in the sun together this month and as always I’m so glad I’ve documented them all because just looking back through all my images brings me such joy.
Biddulph Grange Gardens (National Trust)
We decided to spend Saturday of the first Bank Holiday weekend adventuring somewhere we’d not been to before. The husband had to work in the evening so we couldn’t venture too far from home and eventually settled on a visit to Biddulph Grange Gardens. I’ve heard wonderful things about their stunning flower displays and knew that late Spring would be the perfect time to visit. I was slightly taken aback when we arrived and I realised just how much I’d dramatically underestimated about how busy it would be on a sunny Bank Holiday weekend – it was incredibly crowded and if I’m honest there were more people there than I’m really comfortable with.
I soon forgot my worries though as we strolled round the Gardens: enormous rhododendron bushes in every colour; an avenue of trees which led to a serene woodland walk through pathways lined with both bluebells and daffodils; a hidden wooden adventure play area; fossils; flowerbeds stuffed full of ornamental tulips; a lake that was home to some humungous fish; precisely landscaped gardens; a café, a large selection of plants for sale; and a second-hand bookshop (we hoped to snag some more Nancy Drew books like we found during our visit to Croome, but sadly we weren’t as luck) all made for a very worthwhile visit.
Hem Heath Woods
The bluebells were late this year thanks to the longest winter ever, but it worked out to our advantage in the end as the girls and I spent Bank Holiday Monday exploring Hem Heath Woods, which is only a five minute drive from Trentham Gardens (one of our other favourite places to visit). It was a pretty little spot with beautiful dappled sunlight filtering down through the trees and we walked contentedly together, Mimi and Lola armed with the inevitable sticks, as we kept a lookout for bluebells.
Unfortunately about 30 seconds into our walk Mimi somehow managed to badly jab herself in the eye with said stick, leaving an impressive graze just under her eye and a deep scratch on the eyeball itself – to say she was hysterical is an understatement, bless her. After calming her down and checking she could still see ok we carried on and were soon rewarded with a gorgeous carpet of bluebells in a clearing. We also came across a fab den to play in too.
It didn’t quite compare to the stunning Parrot’s Drumble, which we visited last year, but it came a pretty close second.
Canalside Farm Walk
A couple of years ago we discovered Canalside Farm, a café/farm shop about fifteen minutes away from where we live. It quickly became a favourite place to go for a walk before heading back to the cafe for an ice cream. This particular weekend it was Mimi’s suggestion to go there and it was the perfect day for it.
We took our usual route alongside the canal, crossed Essex Bridge and headed into the woods to climb trees, which the girls all love doing (and I love that they’re getting messy and building their confidence as they play). Instead of turning back at this point, we continued through a little gate at the end and discovered a huge field full of buttercups, hugging the edge of the river. It was so pretty and I’m delighted to have found a new location for family photoshoots! Lola can never resist wildflowers, so she made me a little posy to bring home with us – I love how much joy she finds in the simplest of things.
Ice creams all round when we got back to the Farm Shop and I also spotted that their fruit picking season would soon be open for business. Picking strawberries and raspberries is another tradition we’ve started since we found Canalside Farm – the girls love doing it every single year and the flavour of the fruits is incredible. I’m already looking forward to taking the girls back on weekend in June for the first crop.
Fun in the back garden
Last but not least, what would an unexpected English heatwave be without getting out the paddling pool in the back garden?! We spent a happy afternoon playing with water pistols, splashing around, shrieking and generally causing complete mayhem. The kitchen ended up soaking wet, my poor plants may never recover and I can probably say the same of my long-suffering neighbours eardrums, but the girls were happy and making memories, which to me is what adventures in the sunshine are all about.
We did have one final adventure in the sun in May as well: a mini road trip during half term that took us through Somerset, Dorset and Hampshire. I couldn’t possibly sum it all up in a couple of paragraphs and a few photos though, so there will be a full blog post on it to follow in the next couple of weeks.
May really has been an absolutely brilliant month of adventures and I’m excited for what the rest of summer holds. Fingers crossed the beautiful weather is here to stay. The last couple of months at school are always jam-packed with events and trips and sports, even more so as it’s my eldest daughters last few weeks at primary school before she starts her next big adventure in September – high school. I’m determined to really make this a summer to remember and it’s definitely already off to a fantastic start.