Olive Picking in France

At this time of year I keep seeing references to olive picking (in warmer climes than the north of England, granted) and it always brings back happy memories of the time we spent living in the South of France, when one of our last tasks before heading back to England was harvesting the olive trees in the grounds of where we were living!

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We set about the task on a late October weekend in 2011, which started bitterly cold but we were soon in shorts and t-shirts as the sun burned through.

We used various methods of removing the olives from the trees, little rake type things, a good old shake, and then climbing up the branches like ten year old boys when we couldn’t reach the best crops!

All, well most, of the olives would land on to giant nets that we’d spread around the trunk of the tree, which we’d then gather together when the tree had been harvested.

The nets were then emptied into a homemade contraption borrowed from the next door neighbour, to remove any leaves and stalks from the olives as they were loaded into crates.

The crates were then emptied out on to cloths in the garage for the olives to dry out a bit, before being crated up again and taken to the local olive press!

Of course it would be rude not to indulge in the french way of life whilst we were undertaking this quite laborious task, so a good Provencal lunch was laid on every day, and we celebrated our achievements at a local restaurant which is a converted olive mill!

Unfortunately we returned to the UK before the local olive press opened for the season so we weren’t able to see our harvest being processed, however the other members of our team sent us photos of the occasion!

To see more photos from our adventures in France, check out this post

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Gardening Activities for Babies & Toddlers

Over the last year we’ve come to realise that gardening with a baby in tow can be quite a challenge, especially if you’ve got a little firecracker like our boy Henry, who doesn’t want to sit still for a minute, but has to be supervised at all times as he’s only just 1!

However we’ve also discovered that there are plenty of gardening activities that you can include the baby in, no matter how young they are!

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Henry’s First Harvest!

We’ve involved our 1 year old, Henry, in the garden as much as possible from a very early age, and now that he’s standing we can do much more with him around the raised beds than ever before!

We always grow our potatoes in buckets, and when it came to harvesting our first main crops, it was only natural that Henry should lead the way!

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Open Farm Sunday at Washingpool Farm

We recently had a holiday in Dorset, staying in a cottage at Washingpool Farm, and by a stroke of good fortune, the first day of our visit coincided with Open Farm Sunday!

This meant we could explore the whole farm that was literally on our doorstep; fantastic for Henry as he loves seeing animals, especially chickens, and great news for me as I was able to explore the farm’s polytunnels and growing fields! It was like vegetable garden heaven!

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Forde Abbey Kitchen Gardens

I’m a sucker for visiting a stately home if they’ve got a working kitchen garden within the grounds!

I loved West Dean Walled Kitchen Garden and Clumber Park is quite close to home (although I don’t visit it as often as I’d like to) so during our recent holiday in Dorset, Forde Abbey was definitely on the list of things to do!

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A Lovely Day in the Garden!

Just a quick post with a few photos from the garden today!

The baby slept for a whole hour in his pushchair then happily sat and watched us while we finished our jobs – he loves being outside!

Got lots of planting and weeding done, the raised beds are starting to fill up!

the sun setting on the veg patch
the sun setting on the veg patch

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School Garden Design Workshop

Today I had the pleasure of working with pupils at a local school, Carrfield Primary Academy, as part of their ‘Eco Day’!

I worked with four different year groups, first explaining to them how we turned our overgrown garden from this:

House Pictures 035

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