Friday, 19 September 2014

Zinnias and scarecrows







My local farm shop Cherry Gardens Farm sells cut flowers and has two fabulous rows thick with zinnias.  Some of the flowers are fading, but there's still so much bold colour and texture.  The centres of the plants look like exotic gateaux.  I definitely need more zinnias in my life.

There's a scarecrow festival going on further up the lane: a darlek stands guard outside one house, a blow-up doll sits in a bath sipping champagne outside another and Dolly Parton pumps out her songs to entertain them.  In the middle of it all is a scarecrow being carried off by a crow.  There's something slightly sinister about this one, or is it just me?

I'm joining in with this week's How Does Your Garden Grow?


Thursday, 11 September 2014

September


 



It's been over a month since I last joined in with How Does Your Garden Grow?  I hope everyone's had a good summer.  Life just seemed to accelerate through August, what with major exam results, teenagers' work and social lives to manage and a week in France thrown in at the end. September has grown on me over the years; I used to feel sad at the end of the summer, a sort of regret that it had all passed by too suddenly, but now I enjoy the September light, colours and changes (everything's more muted before the leaves really turn).

The little pumpkin plant I bought from The Walled Nursery produced its first offspring, a weighty thing that is curing in the corner of the house while several more are changing from green to orange in the vegetable patch.  I had a romantic notion of growing my own Halloween lanterns, but wasn't prepared for the growth that this little plant put on, suffocating my garlic plants, its vines climbing up the runner beans, fence and raspberries.  Otherwise in the garden it's a great time to be planning for next year, filling a few gaps, moving things around and eating grapes from the vine.


Thursday, 4 September 2014

High energy children's entertainer: Kazzamatazz



Kazzamatazz is a lively clown who will keep kids and grown-ups amused for a full two hours.  Parties are jam-packed full of fun, costumes, dance routines, magic, funny wigs, props, party games, comedy characters, pretend snowball throwing, balloon sword fights, face painting and much much more.  Enjoyment is guaranteed!

Here's the low-down on what to expect from Kazzamatazz:

"My parties start before the kids arrive: I set up some toys, a bubble machine and lots of beach balls for them to play with until everyone gets there.  When we are ready, I break the ice with about half an hour of energetic and silly dance routines.  I have props for this such as crazy cowboy hats, mad curly wigs, cheerleading pompoms, Hawaiian flower leis, Minion masks, a dance from Frozen - not forgetting to make a big fuss of the birthday girl or boy!

Then, when they need a sit-down, it's time for the magic show and a bit of laughter with Toto, my puppet dog, who helps with the magic tricks, but is very naughty.  I will have already blown up about 50 balloons and made them into swords, so now bring on the balloon battle - such fun!

After a couple of traditional party games, such as the hokey cokey, maybe egg and spoon or a limbo competition, it's time to eat.

While all the kids sit down at the table and tuck into their birthday tea, I'll nip off and change into various character costumes: Spiderman, Dora The Explorer, SpongeBob, Snow White, Shawn the Sheep.  I'll wander around the party table and shake hands with the children in my costumes while they eat.  If you have a particular character in mind, please let me know in advance and I'll see what I can do.  

In the last half hour, I'll bring out my silly ostrich called Nancy, who needs a bit of taming, as she keeps darting off in all directions.  She doesn't mind the kids chasing her.  Oh, and did I mention that a there may be a guest appearance from One Direction and Jedward (courtesy of one of the dads sitting around), and maybe even an alligator wrestling competition?

Back in my clown costume now, and it's time to get out a huge and colourful parachute for more circular party games.  I might have time for a quick pass the parcel, or if you prefer, I could do some sparkly hand tattoos or face painting at the end of the party.

Two full hours of FUN! FUN! FUN! Laughter guaranteed!"

(Phew, I feel exhausted just reading this.)

What will it cost?

£170 for a full-on two hour party, or £100 for a condensed version without costumes.

Please contact Karen on 0785 9015231 for availability. Karen also provides karaoke and disco parties for older children (eight to teens).

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Mega Blaster Arena Competition at The Hop Farm



The Mega Blaster Arena Competition: 

One Lucky Family will WIN a Half Day Pass for two adults & two children at The Mega Blaster Arena at The Hop Farm.   A 30 minute session for a family of four is worth £16.00 and this prize is for a half day pass giving the winning family three sessions each worth a total of £48.00!

 THE MEGA BLASTER ARENA AT THE HOP FARM 2014

The latest craze to hit the UK is a soft Dart Tag game better known as ‘Nerf’ and it has become as popular as Paintball was in the mid 1980s. Located at The Hop Farm in Paddock Wood the new attraction named ‘The Mega Blaster Arena’ opened at the end of  June.

The purpose built indoor arena provides a safe environment for children to play together. Suitable for adults and children of 5 and above (children aged 5 must be accompanied by an adult).

Darryl Curcher, who has set up the new venture, said “My idea was to make this ‘Nerf style’ arena an open play scenario using all the latest high tech 'Nerf' products. Our customers can choose to play however they want to and with whom they want to in a safe, well lit and colourful environment using their choice of Nerf Blaster."

Training on blaster use is given before every session and there are no shoes allowed in soft arena and goggles are mandatory in the arena at all times. We have more than 200 ‘Nerf’ blasters to choose from including smaller versions for younger children and experienced adults.

For children and adults who do not want to play in the arena we also have a ‘Nerf’ firing range where adults and children can shoot at targets to win prizes.

For more information and to pre-book your tickets for the Mega Blaster Arena visit: www.megablasterarena.co.uk 

To enter Playground's competition, simply email your contact details to competition@playgroundonline.co.uk before the end of Wednesday 20th August 2014.

We advise booking in advance to avoid any disappointment or you can turn up on the day to play subject to availability.

If you have a party request please call 01892 616647. 

Mega Blaster Arena Opening Times:

Weekends:
 Saturday 10:00am - 5:00pm
 Sundays 10:00am - 5:00pm
 All other days by reservation, corporate or party bookings only

Event Address: 
 The Hop Farm, Paddock Wood, Kent TN12 6PY
 Tel: 01622 872068

Due to available space each visit can accommodate a maximum of 40 people: 
 Website: www.megablasterarena.co.uk


Friday, 1 August 2014

Summer shadows









Back from Paris and there's loads to do at home in the garden.  I planted three plum trees a few years ago, one died, but the other two are groaning with fruit, so we've been eating them as fast as we can, giving them to friends and I've made pots and pots of chutney to go with cheesy baked potatoes in the winter months.  The phlox and agapanthus on the south side of the house are a great combination and the agapanthus cast arty shadows against the cream paint.  

I've had such fun watching the tiny pumpkin plant I bought from The Walled Nursery grow: I didn't know what to expect, but this thing has taken over my vegetable patch with the vines growing over the potatoes and up the runner beans.  I'm like a child growing a sunflower, as I watch the pumpkin putting on growth every day and it is now turning a brilliant orange.  I planted a pot of baby sunflower seeds in the spring and these have thrived and loved the hot sunny weather - last week averaging 30 degrees in the shade.  For this week's How Does Your Garden Grow?


Thursday, 24 July 2014

A Parisian Garden






This time last week I was in Paris; the temperature soared while I was there and I passed a pharmacy where the sign above flashed 39 degrees at 4pm last Thursday.  It was the kind of city heat that made the sweat trickle down my back and swelled my feet so they rubbed and blistered, even in a pair of favourite trusted walking shoes.  I took a box of plasters in anticipation of much pavement work.

Luckily the hotel was a ten minute walk from the Jardin du Luxembourg, where every evening we'd take a stroll there.  It was full of other tourists with the same idea, lovers smooching, as well as Parisians pulled up on chairs, chatting, reading, smoking and taking in the calm of the park. Away from the formal gardens, on the edge and under the trees were men playing petanque, a children's play park and Shetland ponies giving rides, teenagers playing basketball, kids playing football and people of all ages on the tennis courts too.  It's also a popular jogging route.  In other words it's a perfect place for people watching, with a cone of of passion fruit sorbet in hand.  I took my trusted Canon PowerShot, which is ideal for city breaks when I want a camera that fits into a back pocket or shoulder bag (I'm not an Instagrammer or phone photographer), although I would love to have had my big camera with me.

However I try not to become too photo obsessed on trips, as by staring down a lens trying to capture life, the reality is that you miss so much.



Manneskjur

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Nature Nuts Summer Camp



A school holiday filled with fun, friendships, freedom and fresh air is on offer from play scheme Nature Nuts this August.

Nature Nuts aims to connect young children to nature with outdoor play, crafts, games and animal encounters. The fun scheme introduces children to natural history through the wonder of butterflies, ants, slugs and snails, toads, woodland trees, foxes, squirrels, insects, fish, plus all sorts of seasonal plants and activities. Local parents nominated the play scheme Nature Nuts for a ‘What’s On for Junior Award’ in 2013.


Nature Nuts Summer Camp is based on Coolings Green & Pleasant’s six acre nature trail in Knockholt, between Sevenoaks and Bromley. Children will enjoy wild times every day in shaded woodland and open grassland. They will explore the bird hide, ponds, dens and bug hotels. There is shelter from the elements. There are also plenty of animals to observe including pigs, goats, wallabies and chickens.


Nature Nuts
founder Kirsty Russell of Sevenoaks says:


“Nature Nuts Summer Camp offers something unique for parents who want their children to play outdoors in summer- like they did. We all know it’s important that young children have the opportunity to immerse themselves in nature during their formative years. That’s how they connect, explore, and learn about the natural world around them. Since 2009 Nature Nuts has offered parents some great educational extras as well - through informative guided play sessions, citizen science challenges, and first hand learning about British animals, plants and the seasons.


“More wild time means healthier, happier and smarter children. It can boost creativity, imagination and self confidence, improve sleep, and reduce stress. Our numbers are kept small. We are warm and friendly. The focus is on natural history, fun, and having a nature trail as the venue is fantastic.”


Camp starts at 8:30am and finishes at 4:30pm, Monday 4 August to Thursday 7 August. Late pick-up at 6pm, by arrangement. Children bring a packed lunch and a beaker of water. Camp week costs £148 per child. All bookings are with Nature Nuts. Further information available and all bookings made online at
www.nature-nuts.co.uk. Enquiries via email to enquiry@nature-nuts.co.uk
.