I’ve always loved May – longer days, cacophonous bird song and a burst of growth everywhere. Did you know that the reason the birds sing so loudly at this time of year is as a kind of audible territory marking as they guard their nests? With a baby in the family keeping anti-social hours I’ve been able to enjoy the dawn chorus quite often over the month and judging from the volume of noise wafting in the window, there are a lot of nesting birds in the countryside near us!
It always seems a time of new starts. Roo has enjoyed watching the baby lambs and goats at Odds Farm making their early unsteady steps, we have welcomed our beautiful new niece to the world and we have all enjoyed watching our youngest member of our family experience plenty of her own firsts this month too.
Two weeks ago we took our three month old baby to meet her Great-Nanny and Great-Grandad for the first time. Her Grandparents were there too and it was a pretty special moment having all four generations together.
It was also baby’s first visit to the West Country – significant as it is her parents’ old stamping ground. We still consider ourselves Bristolian at heart and find it odd to think of our Berkshire born girls not sharing in future the same depth of attachment to cider, cows, the Mendip Hills and Bristol’s finest under-age drinking establishments!
Whilst down West we made the most of a searingly hot weekend to get out in the gorgeous weather. A wander up through the shade of Kingswood at Winscombe took us up to spectacular views at Wavering Down and baby’s first trig point on Winscombe Hill. It seems a long time since making a similar if longer walk to Roo’s first trig at Whitehorse Hill! If you are in the Bristol area and it is a fine day then do try the Wavering Down walk – it’s pretty gentle uphill climbing (Roo managed most of it by herself) and it’s only 3km there and back, with plenty of views, sheep and scenic wandering to reward your effort.
After our walk at Wavering Down we headed to the sand-dunes at Burnham-on-Sea for another first – baby’s first sand-in-toes beach moment! It’s been a while since I had the chance to visit the beaches near Bristol and the last time I was at Burnham it was sporting some unflattering lycra whilst attempting to pant my way round the running course of my first ever sprint triathlon. This visit was far more relaxed with time for sand-art (just as well I never fancied myself as a sculptor), beach games and enjoying the evening sunshine. It served as a gentle reminder of the great beaches at Bristol’s backdoor – all under 45 minutes away!
May has also seen us enjoying a return to our Ridgeway National Trail challenge – again, another first for baby who was still a bump the last time we hit that particular trail! Rudely interrupted by pregnancy related asthma and exhaustion last year, our mission to complete the 139km path between West Kennet and Ivinghoe Beacon fell a little behind schedule. We started our catch-up mission with two Ridgeway walks in one weekend. The first tackled the heights nd gorgeous views of the Barbury Castle to Ogbourne St.George stretch, where Roo, not to be outdone by her little sister, climbed her first stile unaided! The second took in the lowest and flatest section of the Ridgeway I’ve walked to date between the Thameside village of Goring and its smaller neighbour, South Stoke. The lack of hill views were more than made up for on the latter by the amazing Belgian Buns at South Stoke village shop!
May for me is also the month when I realise just how far behind I am on the gardening. For the last year I have had the excuse that our garden has been a bit of a building site but finally this month the rubble has begun to be cleared away and I have had to admit that poor access to the vegetable garden is no longer excuse enough to put off the weeding!
To help me gain some inspiration and motivation for the garden at home I’ve been busy checking out other people’s efforts. At the start of the month I cracked open my RHS Membership Card (inspired bday pressie from Hubby) and headed to RHS Wisley in Surrey. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting but definitely something smaller and less child friendly. We had an amazing day out although I think I definitely need another visit or two before I can get beyond gawping at the sheer scale of their gardens and start thinking more practically of how to adapt some of their ideas to home. Fortunately, my membership means I can call or email the RHS with all my burning garden questions – so far I’ve used it to gain planting ideas for under the large trees i the garden and to establish that the culprit of my Bramley apple trees curled up leaves is a type of greenfly called the Rosy Apple Aphid! Sadly, I’m too late in the season to do anything about it.
We also headed to Greys Court – a place we have regularly visited in the past – and discovered they have a whole new play area for kids converting an otherwise unremarkable patch of shrubbery into a full blown wooden fortress, sandpits and adventure centre! For Roo, this more than made up for Mummy lingering in the kitchen garden overly long!
It’s not all been procrastination either – we have actually cracked on at home and made a start on the garden. Runner beans, onions, tomatoes and Brussels sprouts are now well on their way, I’ve planted on my rather wild looking sweet-peas and to her delight, Roo has tasted the first garden strawberry of the year! Even the pear and plum trees have joined in the month of firsts, producing blooms and the beginnings of fruit – something they’ve baulked at in previous years!
Now on the cusp of June and with Wimbledon just around the corner, it’s time to top up the Pimms supplies and hope the rest of those strawberries go unnoticed by the garden’s resident wood pigeons! The builders have been finishing up here and we finally have a study back again, having last seen the desk and other office furniture over two and a half years ago when we packed them up to make way for Roo’s nursery. This means I now have an eagle eye view of aforementioned strawberries!
We are also have plenty more days out and walks planned – our road trip plans are still to be confirmed but it is looking exciting for our first family walking holiday and I’m also eager to try out one of the Forestry Commission’s Gruffalo trails that are springing up to celebrate the books anniversary.
Have you got any great walk recommends for the early summer or tips on how to tackle my Rosy Apple Aphids?! Whatever you have been up to in May, I’d love to hear about it so do leave a comment or link up your adventures with the #monthlyramblings linky below!