Late Spring 2018

So there’s been a lot happening in Camp MAD since I last wrote!

In mid-May we joined our friends Paul and Anurag for a day of foraging in the countryside.  It was a great day for it and it was a really interesting experience!  Here we are with our guide Marlow who is giving us our first lesson about the St. George’s mushroom.


This big, white mushroom can be found in rings in patches of darker green grass — and usually around the time of St. George’s Day (23 April).


After crossing the meadow, we headed into the forest to search for things like wild garlic which you can see on either side of this pretty path…


Here is Morgy with a “pig nut” which in my opinion has a prohibitive cost benefit…


The tour was a nice experience but perhaps it was a little bit too long and contained too much information for a 4 year old… and also it went over the lunch hour with no food.  Luckily we were able to forage some leftover Bakewell tart out of my backpack!


But the wait (and work) was worth it in the end!  Marlow turned all of our findings into a super delicious meal!


Back in Cardiff, Morgy and I went to see the RAF airplanes — whoops sorry Air Force friends I meant fixed wing and rotary aircraft — which turned up in town in celebration of 100 years for the Royal Air Force.


We were joined by Morgy’s best buddy Zeke.  Here they are chillin in the Sea King rescue raft.


And then it was time for Harry and Meghan’s wedding!


Levels of interest for the event varied here in the UK with some people emphatically refusing to watch whilst others were camping in Windsor just so they could catch a glimpse of the couple.  I take any excuse to get excited about something in Britain — in part just to rise above the constant British … understatedness?  Cynicism?  I don’t know how to describe this aspect of British-ness without insulting British family and friends — all I can say is that they express their excitement in different ways than Americans do…!  They just don’t get as hyperactive and smiley like Americans would.  There’s nothing wrong with it — it’s just a different way of “being” and you all know how these cultural differences fascinate me!

Anyways Paul was excited to watch the fanfare like I was so he came over in the morning with some chocolate strawberries to add to the champagne, cucumber sandwiches and scones with clotted cream and jam.  You can’t beat clotted cream, let me tell you! (Anurag was in India so couldn’t join us!)


I thought it was fun to watch the wedding — in particular watching the British royalty as the black American gospel preacher kept yapping and yapping about LOVE.  It was probably the most animated sermon ever delivered at Windsor and the Brits really didn’t know what to make of it!  And then the procession down the steps — look at how beautiful the chapel looks with all those flowers!  And what did you all think of the dress?  I must admit I liked Kate’s better…


Anyways as soon as they were in their horse-drawn carriage we jumped in the car to drive to Tenby for a week’s holiday.   We stayed in the exact same apartment as we did in October because it’s right on South Beach and was just awesome.   Here’s the view from the balcony over South Beach towards Caldey Island.


Unfortunately I got sick on day 2 and was out of action for about three days 🙁  Seems like Aled and I are taking turns getting sick on holiday.  Sometimes I think the immune system also just goes on holiday when holiday starts.

The boys still enjoyed the beach though, digging rivers around volcanoes, boogy boarding, etc.  Here’s Morgy atop one of their best endeavours!


Nanna and Taidi (aka Ann and Steve) joined us on Tuesday and went for a walk around town while I rested.  This is an iconic view of the Tenby harbour:


By the time I caught up with them in the afternoon Taidi needed a nap and I needed an ice cream!

20180522_154918 (1)

Another highlight of the trip was catching up with Will, an old friend of Aled’s from Fishguard.  Will lives in Tenby but is a marine cable engineer so is often away in various corners of the earth laying cable deep under the ocean!  Anyways they got out surfing a couple of times and Will had us over for a lovely dinner (thank you!).  We also got to meet his son  Henry, a new arrival of only 7 weeks.  Congrats Will on joining the parent club — you looked like a natural!


The last weekend of the holiday was a bank holiday so we headed up to North Pembs to stay at Nanna and Taidi’s for a few days before coming back to Cardiff.  On the way up, we organised a boat trip out to Ramsey Island, an RSPB reserve.


We went for a walk around the southern tip of the island which offered some really beautiful views.


The bluebells were out…


… as were the thrift, a really pretty pink flower which can be seen all along the Pembrokeshire coast at this time of year.


We arrived at Glan y Mor late on Saturday but Nanna and Taidi were at a wedding so we made ourselves at home.  The fields were looking lovely although with Taidi’s quest to allow every single natural grass to regenerate he’s also giving me really bad hay fever… but hey, the fields  look really pretty and Morgy loves running around them and picking butter cups!


The next day we went over to Castell Henllys, a recreation of an Iron age fort.  They call it experimental archaeology which means they don’t exactly know what the round houses would have looked like or the true details of the roof construction, or how they connected beams for example, but are making educated guesses based on the bits and bobs that were discovered on the site.   I think they look amazing — but imagine spending a Welsh winter in one of these?!!  Gosh we’ve turned into wimps over the centuries!


I headed back to work on Tuesday but Morgy and Aled stayed out in Pembrokeshire for a few more days.  This is Taidi’s favourite time of year with all the blossoms blossoming and the bees buzzing so there was no doubt lots of walking around the fields to survey the action.


Morgy had his first lesson in thinning the plums so the branches don’t get overwhelmed when the fruit really starts to grow.


On Tuesday, Aled and Morgy were joined by Sofie and Jack, the children of our friends Charlotte and Pete who live in Tuscon,  Arizona.  I am so sad I missed them but these expat-return-home-visits get so packed with different people to see it just couldn’t be organised… hopefully next time guys!


Back in Cardiff, June has been speeding by.  I’ve managed to hang out with Becky and her little one Hazel a couple of times — but look Hazel isn’t so little any more, she’s just about to turn one and can now walk!  Becky is a bat expert so has been on some night surveys recently so we’ve mostly been chilling at her house or mine on a Friday afternoon while Miss Fern is at school.  (We are tired mums!!)


At long last the boat house at Roath Lake is open for business so we’ve been out rowing once or twice — yay this is my favourite thing to do in Cardiff!


In other big news, we have been accepted at Marlborough Primary, the school close by which had drawn us to the neighbourhood to begin with.  It’s been a long wait to find out if Morgy would get in as it’s “oversubscribed”.  Here in Cardiff you have to apply to be accepted at the state-run schools but the good ones get more applications than there are places so the council allocates kids based on physical proximity to the school and checks to see if there are siblings, etc.  So it was a long wait to find out if there was room for Morgy but we were lucky and it’s all worked out as we had hoped — yay!

There was  parents meeting a couple of Fridays ago and I was really impressed with the head teacher and the other staff who spoke — they seemed really passionate about their methodologies and for the well-being of the students so that was really positive.  I did laugh a bit about some of the forms which we had to fill in … yes that is a “playground equipment agreement” which even Morgy himself had to sign.  So funny.


And the last pic I’ll post is Morgy and his drawing — in the past few weeks he’s just started to draw lots and lots.  I love seeing his depictions of volcanoes, apple trees, and other very far-fetched vehicles…  We do wonder if he will take after Aled in the art department.


I think that’s all for now everyone — it’s a mini-heat wave here in Cardiff right now so we are spending as much time as possible in the garden.  This weather does mean gin and tonic consumption is significantly higher than at other times of year — and it’s best shared with lovely neighbours!