When I started drafting this post it was definitely still term time, and now we’re well into the holidays already … I can scarcely believe that we’ve completed the whole first year of reception and am extremely proud of Pip. I remember this time last year though having loads of questions and worries, so I thought I’d try and look back on some of the things which we’ve learnt this year which might make someone else’s summer a little less stressful. (You can also read some of my initial reflections here).

What to expect

1. Pip has been going to full time nursery for years so she was used to leaving us – I was surprised by how long some of the other children took to get used to it. At least one of the children in Pip’s class was still struggling by half term but it gradually wore off and I think she was an unusual case. I guess don’t have any expectations and just work with your child.

2. My friend Gill at A Baby on Board, whose daughter also started reception this year says “Don’t underestimate how much sleep they need, even though it’s a shorter day than nursery – and how hungry they get” and I would agree – Pip whines for a snack every evening despite being fed plenty at after school club.

3. Don’t expect them to tell you anything. When questioned Pip would always say “don’t know” or “can’t remember” but by the end of reception she can read, write, count to a hundred and questions everything. Have faith that they are doing things and learning things.

What to buy

I’m a pretty detailed focused person and like to be prepared – it’s a good idea to start well ahead of time to make sure you’re not frantically rushing around on 3 September. You might have been wondering about how much is needed and how many options to buy. Obviously each school will be different, and will depend on whether you have uniform, and how much each item costs to buy but, for what it’s worth, we found the following:

4. Enough tops/tshirts so that there is theoretically one for every day. Pip found that she didn’t really want to wear a cardigan or sweatshirt, so she wore a logo-ed tshirt with a plain longsleeve top underneath. We only had 3 of the school tshirts, so I did spend the winter doing more washing than I’d have liked, and vowed for the next year I’d get more options. At Pip’s new school, I think she needs to wear blouses, so we’ve just picked up these darling peter pan collared ones.

5. Summer options from the start of the September term. We assumed that it would be winter uniform straight away but it can be quite hot in September still, so it can be a good idea to pick up at least one checked dress/shorts option now whilst the summer uniform is still in the shops.

6. A selection of options for the bottom half – I found George at Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco to be perfectly serviceable quality and great prices, with Debenhams, M&S and John Lewis also having nice options. Pip liked some culottes I found in M&S which made a great alternative. Our school wasn’t too bothered by colour of the bottoms so on a couple of occasions she wore a lightweight chambray skirt in the summer to go with the school tshirt when a logo was required (trips etc).

7. We had at least 5 pairs of tights (I have to admit I bought cotton & then wool ones from Denmark at considerable price a pair but they kept her warm and toasty and crucially not sweaty like the cheap supermarket ones which she seemed to find upsetting) plus 5 pairs navy knee high socks from M&S and then 5 pairs of white frilled ankle socks for summer. And I still felt like I was constantly washing/looking for the bloody things.

8. Shoes – we’ve been trying some online options now that we’ve moved further away from the shops – Debenhams have a good range of school shoes and with currently 20%, it’s a pretty easy way to get sorted. Debenhams kindly sent us some options which we’ve been trying on at home – easy to send back if they don’t fit, or they don’t work, and much nicer than braving the queues in person come September.

Other tips

9. Label everything! I am old school so I bought Cash’s name tapes but there are many less time consuming options. Whatever you choose, label everything that they take, remember what they take with them, and prepare to spend some time chasing after items that have somehow misplaced. In reception, the lost property pile was huge with parents looking through it every week!

10. Beware nits! This is one of my top tips which I shared with Motherhood, the Real Deal: “Get a nitty gritty comb and some Childs Farm detangler and comb weekly. We do ours on a Sunday night. Much less stressful and time consuming than suddenly realising your family has headlice because you never thought to prevent it! – The Little Pip ”

Thanks to Debenhams for the shoes & school shirts and dress.

Anyone that follows my Instagram will know that I’m pretty obsessed with flowers – and also with meeting other parents, which I’ve been on rather a mission to do since we arrived in Cornwall.

I was delighted to discover a new group run by the amazing and talented Emily & Lucy of 3Acre Blooms which allowed me to mess around with some gorgeous cut flowers and create my own little table decoration whilst someone looked after my kids!

And not only looked after them, but made paper flowers, decorated biscuits and fed me coffee and cake. Seriously, I was in heaven.

Cornwall has been wet and miserable for the past few days (weeks? it certainly feels like it) and Wednesday morning saw very heavy rain, such that we were all in wellies and rain coats. The 3Acre blooms farmhouse was a warm and welcome retreat and respite full of gorgeous flowers, divine candles and hot coffee. As you can see from the photos it was so dark it was pretty hard to take anything good, sadly, as the cutting garden flowers were in fine form and crying out to be photographed.

Emily and Lucy are both fellow mums who have relocated to the area so it was great to finally meet them both in person and catch up – being a parent can be an oddly lonely time but not everyone will admit that, so it was refreshing to be in company of people who do. I have written time and time again about the feeling of feeling so lonely I could scream, yet can’t actually do anything about it as the children obviously cannot be left. It has been a strange couple of weeks with no adult company other than my husband, but neither being on holiday properly (unpacking, he is still working) nor yet in the depths of the work/school routine. I am enjoying this brief hiatus but it was very very nice to speak to some other women, other mothers, other flower loving photograph taking people!

Blooms and Babes – Not a sponsored post! More details below if you’re Cornwall based and would like to attend. Blooms and Babes is suitable for pre-school children. Lucy and Emily say:

Blooms and Babes is our regular meetup for parents/carers to get together and create a little flowery treat to take home, whilst their babes play and have a little floral activity of their own. All fuelled by lots of tea, coffee, and cake. Our next one will take place in September near Mitchell (TR8). If you’d like to hear about future events and dates, please sign up to our newsletter.

Bottom image credit 3Acre Blooms

We spent the best couple of hours today on a Rock Pool Ramble organised by Polzeath Marine Conservation Association and led by their volunteers and those of the National Trust in North Cornwall.

Join marine experts, Polzeath volunteers, and National Trust rangers on one of our famous explorations of the shore! With dates throughout the year, you have a chance to discover the wonders of the rockpools, from rare Celtic sea slugs to stalked jellyfish and an abundance of crabs. Lead by National Trust Rangers.

We weren’t really quite sure what to expect but had a wonderful morning examining the rock pools, learning about all sorts of wildlife and having anything we found identified. The format was super casual – we were accompanied by loads of volunteers and rangers, which was particularly welcome as that meant we could concentrate on looking in the pools, knowing someone else was keeping an eye out for the tide. The team brought along a load of white buckets and specimen catchers and we all had a go before gathering round to see what everyone had found and have things identified.

If you are visiting Polzeath any time this is one not to miss – I learnt just as much as Pip and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. That said, you don’t *need* an organised ramble so I’ve shared some of tips below that I thought might be helpful if you’re going yourself. We will certainly be going again, both on the organised version and by ourselves.

What to bring

A beach in August will obviously be hot and sunny so no need to worry about being warm and dry… of course, this week has been anything but warm and dry, so first and foremost I would suggest a waterproof! You also will not want to worry about your feet – I bought some gloriously unstylish waterproof shoes from the local surf shop which were perfect. Pip insisted on wearing her Saltwater sandals which she will barely take off – had the weather been nicer I might have worn mine too, but I like to err on the side of being warm.

You will also need a bucket – we brought along a clear crabbing one that was great, and if you can get hold of a bigger white one that does make looking at some of the larger specimens easier. We were shown at the start how to be careful to not disturb the marine life – if you lift a stone, put it back, etc – and to not use nets but specimen scoopers (most of which had been made from cut off plastic bottles with taped edges and string handles, so super easy to make at home. There were also some clear plastic pots, probably hummus tubs or similar, so again, easy to get even if you’re on holiday.

We also benefitted from the spotters guide which we bought for 50p from the team, and they brought down some guide books to look through as well, which Pip was particularly taken with.

The rangers were all so knowledgeable and so friendly – Pip had loads of questions and they patiently ansered them all. The other benefit to an organised ramble such as this one was that they knew how and where to look for certain things – and were also able to identify without having to look it up which was particularly lovely. We spent some time with one of the volunteers that was on a university placement and she showed Pip a strawberry anenome and a daisy anenome and helped Pip feel the tentacles and explained how it caught its prey.

What did we find?

Well, we did see a Celtic sea cucumber which was super tiny, much more so than I expected.

That is a daisy anenome, but quite hard to spot at the back under the rocks in the middle.

Pip found several baby crabs – and other people found all manner of other different crabs, fish, shrimps, sea weed – and also sadly a few bits of plastic which we scooped out and took back to recycle.

We also saw a cushion starfish, the shell of a spider crab which had been abandoned when its owner needed to upscale to a larger model and the strange brain like roots of seaweed which had been ripped from its mooring in stormy weather.

All in all a fascinating day and one which I’d highly recommend.

Country Kids