4 articles Tag gardening

Help Your Schools to Get Out and Grow!

Here at Mum’s the Word, we’ve been long-time supporters of the Get Out and Grow campaign, pioneered by Sudocrem, in association with Greenfingers charity and Cliffton Nurseries, with the goal of getting children out of the house and into the garden. They sent us some facts which are, quite frankly, a little bit sad..

Despite the fact that 87% of British households have a garden, over half of British children between 4 and 8 are unable to name 5 vegetables or fruits grown in them and 95% were unable to name 3 herbs. Many of those couldn’t identify gardening tools, with only 8% able to identify a trowel, 80% never having seen a rake before and, worrying, 79% believing worms are bad for plants. 

73% of those asked said they had never grown a sunflower, while only 8% had ever picked an apple, which perhaps explains why they’re unable to name even one. Less than 10% had dug up a vegetable and only 6% had ever eaten a fresh pea from the pod. Based on this evidence, it is perhaps unsurprising that only 20% have ever eaten a vegetable they’ve grown themselves.

Sudocrem is now expanding the initiative to include schools, based on the figures that 90% of children said that they would like a garden at school and at one primary school in Lincolnshire, a school garden made all the difference when it came to pupil’s behaviour.

The Benjamin Adlard Primary School, run by headmaster Sam Coy, was previously rated by Ofsted as one of Britain’s worst schools. Four years and one school garden later, and the Gainsborough school has won the national Pearson award for School of the Year: Making a Difference.

Headmaster Coy insists: “The children absolutely love den-building, just generally getting dirty and nature hunts. One child recently told me that he loves going to the forest school on a Tuesday afternoon so much as it helps him to behave all week as he never wants to not be able to go.”

We’re absolutely delighted that Sudocrem is offering people the chance to nominate schools which they think could benefit from their very own gardening kits, and they’ve asked Mum’s the Word to be an ambassador for the project.

All you need to do is comment below the name of the school you wish to nominate and why you think they deserve one of the kits, comprising of gloves, spades, wheelbarrow and much more to get the school’s garden into full bloom. The kits are worth £160, but having the tools to get outside could be worth SO much more to the kids of the school you nominate.

Leave your comment by Sunday 9th of June and we could have the kit sent to the winning school before the summer holiday begin.

(Winner will be chosen by me, prizes will be provided by Satellite PR and sent straight to the winning school, no monetary alternative will be offered, all decisions are final)

Saving Time vs. Saving Money

It’s no secret that I am really far from being a domestic goddess. Housework is basically the bane of my life and Husband has offered on more than one occasion to pay for people to come and make my life easier – although I usually refuse out of pure stubbornness and by annoyingly over-blown sense of frugality! There are, however, a few things that we don’t tend to do ourselves and get other people to come and do for us – some of them work out less expensive than you’d expect and will save you a lot of time and effort in the long-run. Here’s a few of them:

Gardening

Husband and I do the very basics in the garden, but our lawn is actually pretty huge out the back and sometimes is more than our electric mower can handle! There are some great apps which allow you to find people to do full garden services, which allow you to find someone who covers your area, performs the tasks you need and is within your budget. This allows us to spend less time tending the garden and more time enjoying it.

Window Cleaning

Cleaning the insides of windows is one thing – doing the outsides is completely another and I’ve been called Frank Spencer FAR too many times in my life to think that venturing up a ladder with a bucket of water would be a good idea! We have a window cleaner who comes once every couple of months to keep the outside of the windows sparkling clean and it saves me a lot of stress.

Oven Cleaning

A few years ago, when we were moving out of one property and into another, I decided to clean the oven using one of those chemical cleaning kits. The oven came up beautifully clean…but I (and I’m not exaggerating here) ended up with chemical burns up my arms because I got the caustic cleaning fluid on my skin. Aside from the risk of burns, you have to remember to ventilate properly and all the other safety factors, as well as the fact that it can be a really laborious task. For me, oven cleaning is well and truly best left to the professionals!

Chimney Sweeping

We’ve lived in this house for a little over 2 years now and in that time we’ve had our chimneys swept twice. The guy comes in and shoves a vacuum hose up the flue, sucking out any stubborn ash which may be stuck inside it…and that’s basically it. It costs us about £50 each time and looks like something I’d be more than capable of doing myself BUT – it’s something that I’ll always leave to the professionals for the sake of safety. Anything which would put our family at risk is well worth spending the money on.

Are there any home services that you absolutely refuse to do yourself? Leave me a comment below.

Gardening and DIY with Kids This Spring

When it gets to this time of year, where the weather is a bit more clement, my mind is always full of all of the DIY and garden stuff that I’d like to do and now that the kids are older and a little more able to get involved (don’t worry, I won’t let Burrito Baby hold any power tools!) I’ve been thinking about things we can do together. Luckily, my friends from the blogging world are the BEST source of inspiration, so I thought I’d share some brilliant posts with you of my favourite projects that they’ve done.

How to Make a Tardis Wardrobe

I’ve you’ve got a gaggle of mini Whovians living in your house then this guide to making a tardis wardrobe is perfect for you. Husband and I really encourage the girls to have their interests and try to indulge them as far as possible so I absolutely love the fact that Penny at Parentshaped has nurtured her daughter’s love for all things Doctor Who with her bedroom furniture.

CD Fish Bird Scarers

CD fish bird scarers

I absolutely LOVE this idea for DIY bird-scarers that Liz over at Me and My Shadow made with her daughter to protect their home garden patch. As well as upcycling and making use of old CDs, thus keeping them out of landfill, they look really pretty too. Such a great project to do with kid as you can be as creative as you like with how you decorate them.

DIY Matchbox Drawer Chest

Red Ted Art DIY matchbox drawers

Something that we ALWAYS need more of in our house is storage, so I love the idea of making ourselves some storage solutions out of other things. These cute little drawers from Red Ted Art are the perfect place to keep art supplies and school stuff, and I’ll definitely be making some of these with the girls.

Top Tips for Gardening With Children

At the risk of going a bit meta, Carolin at Mummy Alarm has put together another rundown post, sharing a whole load of other posts about gardening with kids. It’s a real wealth of information which will be useful in the months to come and I’m going to go through and read all of it with interest.

Bedroom in a Box

Dulux Bedroom in a BoxMaking design decisions can be really tricky, especially when you’re trying to stick to a theme, which is why Dulux decided to make the “Bedroom in a Box”, which Sian at Helpful Mum reviewed. She chose a jungle theme for her kids and takes us through exactly how she dealt with the makeover, as well as giving her opinion on the results.

Five Easy Foods to Grow with Kids

If you’re planning on growing veg this spring and summer with your kids, Emma at The Syders has got some excellent suggestions of what you can grow. When I was a kid, I loved nothing more than helping my grandad to pick the peas and runner beans he’d grown in the garden and I think it’s really important for kids to see where food comes from…plus, NOTHING tastes better than strawberries grown in your own garden!

Planting and Sowing

Emmy’s Mummy has got another great gardening post about how to get the kids involved with the planting and sowing stage of gardening, perfect for this time of year. They’re growing a whole variety of different fruit and veg which will be a fabulous crop once they’re all grown and ready for harvest.

Easy DIY Crepe Paper Tulips Craft Tutorial

Tulips are one of my favourite flowers (have you ever seen the black ones?!) and this tulip craft is absolutely perfect for this time of year when the flowers are starting to bloom. As Katie says, they’d be the perfect centrepiece for an Easter dinner, but I also think they’d be ideal for Mother’s Day too, especially if your Mum has allergies and can’t have real flowers.

John and Rene.

When I was a kid, my Nan and Grandad lived in a place called Usk Road in Aveley. I remember thinking that Usk Road sounded really exotic, even though I knew it not to be. They lived in an end-of-terrace house with a big garden and a little side gate with a brick arch that went between theirs and the house next door.

The house always smelt the same, a mixture of Imperial Leather soap and new carpets. It was spotless and I was fascinated by the nick nacks that were scattered around – the Toby jugs on top of the unit in the living room; the Teasmade in the spare room; the Sylvanian Families video that they kept for my cousins and I.

None of this fascinated me more than my Grandad John’s shed.

Grandad’s shed smelt (and still does) of creosote and had a million interesting and complicated-looking tools hanging from the ceiling and walls. There were vises attached to a work area and things with menacingly sharp blades kept on high shelves. It was in this shed that Grandad made my dolls house. This dolls house was better than any that I have ever, to this day, seen in a shop.

The walls were covered with brick dust and individually pointed with white paint, each brick lovingly created by Grandad’s patient hand. Every room had an electric light with its own light switch, powered by a big battery compartment, hidden under the roof. The roof had individual tiles, cut out of a terracotta coloured lino. The rooms were carpeted and a proper staircase ran through the middle of the house. Then came Nanny Rene’s work, individually made curtains, duvets, light shades and linen, all in co-ordinating colours.

The attention to detail is incredible, made possible by the loving care and teamwork of Nanny Rene and Grandad John. It’s still in my Mum’s loft – I must get it down and give it to Sausage to enjoy.

In the early nineties, after Grandad retired, he and my Nan decided to make their dream move to a place with a slower way of life and chose Lowestoft, a little seaside town in Suffolk. Every year, they’d drive back to Essex at the start of the penultimate week of the summer holidays and take my cousin and I back to Suffolk with them, where we’d spend a glorious week being taken on a different outing every day. Over the course of the week, we’d visit Great Yarmouth pleasure beach, Pleasurewood Hills, go for a boat trip along the Broads, spend a day shopping in Lowestoft town, go bowling, to the Sealife Centre, so many trips in such a short space of time.

I was talking to my Dad the other day about our weeks in the summer with Nan and Grandad and it occurred to me that it must’ve cost them an absolute fortune every year. Of course, as we got older the visits stopped and our lives moved on, but I still look fondly back on those times.

Sadly, we lost Nanny Rene (I feel I should point out, Rene is said like “Reen”) in 2004 and our little family hasn’t been the same since. We’ve grown apart and things have changed. The last time we were all together was at my Nan’s funeral. The day my Nan died, Grandad turned to me and said “Well, that’s it girl, I’ve lost my best friend. I suppose it’ll be me next”.

He’s lived on his own for almost eight years, suffering one illness after another, and a couple of weeks ago we received the news that he’s developed advanced lymphoma. I’ve been to see him a few times in the last few weeks (sadly, more times in those weeks than in the previous five years) and the thing that keeps striking me is his hands. My Grandad has always been a sturdy bloke, not the tallest, but always incomprehensibly muscular and solid. Now, he’s looking old, thin, withered and his hands look huge and incongruous with the rest of his body. But those hands are the hands that worked to provide so well for my Nan, Dad and uncles. Those are the hands that built us the most amazing toys. Those are the hands that always smelt of mint or tomatoes or creosote from hours spent tending his immaculate garden. And while I’ll be devastated when the inevitable end finally comes, I’ll be very happy to know that those hands will once again be holding Nanny Rene’s tightly, two best friends reunited.