25 things every real pub should have

March 2016 marks a decade of my life spent running pubs and five years running my own pub business. I'd like to think I know a thing or two about running a proper pub. When I say a proper pub, I mean just that. A proper pub shouldn't be a social club, sports club or a restaurant. It's a special space, with personality and a heart. 
1. Allow dogs in the public bar

2. Open before noon
3. Have a proper fire

4. Offer a bar snack menu

5. Have a website
6. Have at least one local ale on

7. Have a community notice board
8. Serve Sunday lunches

9. Serve a pie in winter
10. Have porkscratchings 

11. Use the local butcher or farmer
12. Have at least one pub pet

13. Have space designated for families

14. Serve ice
15. Use a bell to call last orders
16. Serve at least one French and New world wine by the glass.

17. Have a vegetarian and vegan option on their menu
18. Have jugs with a handle

19. Have at least one old photo of the pub.
20. Have a dart board

21. Offer a friendly welcome
22. Bric-a-brac of some kind or another 
23. Have a meat raffle
24. Offer a real cider in the summer
25. Serve a ploughmans lunch

Vegan pumpkin spice porridge

Autumn is here, the season of falling leaves and pumpkin spice everything. Porridge is a favourite treat of  Edwin's. It's a easy dish to go vegan too, I personally think coconut milk makes a lighter and less claggy porridge.
Today we combined two Autumn treats- pumpkin spice and porridge. It's sugar free but tasty and a great way to start a day of adventure.

Pumpkin spice porridge
Porridge oats (2 cups)
Coconut milk (1 cup)
Water (1 cup)
Tsp vanilla essence
Tsp cinnamon
Pinch ginger
Pinch nutmeg
Chopped pecans
Chopped dates

Simply stir the mix on a low heat until it hits your desired consistency 

Introducing the ducks

There's some new guests in the pub beer  garden. Meet Anna and Elsa. The surprisingly quiet and retiring girls have joined us as they were booted off the allotment plot they've been calling home for the last year.
It's all a bit sad as they belong to my Niece who's three and can't have any pets in her flat. These gorgeous ducks are nice and safe though now with us.
I think they will make a lovely addition to our garden.

Free range parenting in a public space

One of the toughest places to hold on to your parenting ideologies is out in public spaces. There's more hazards than at home, other parents who we presume are judging us and other kids who often act in unpredictable ways.
As a parent you are no longer operating in "test conditions " , if anything these are the places your parenting practice, is put into practice.
My view is that when we are out I need to be hands off where possible. The role of a parent after all is to guide and support children into independence.
This means (for me) that my kid is the one running feral.

That doesn't mean that I'm not watching or supervising him- I am. Nor does it mean I'm not petrified when he runs over to the big kids, climbs the 10ft slide or runs toward the road.
But I try and operate a safe distance policy. Positioning myself just far enough away that he feels he is independent buy not too far that I can't run and scoop him up as he slips through the monkey bars.
When out in town, my free willed toddler often doesn't want to hold me hand or be confined to the pushchair. Often his sister is in the sling. So we have a simple understanding. 
Inspired by Janet Lansbury's podcast series unruffled, I allow my toddler free range on the street if he walks with me. If he doesn't and is unsafe I pick him up and point him in the right direction. Often this works, especially if I explain I need to keep him safe. On the occasions he's tired and kicks off, I barrel him under my arm or strap him in his pushchair or sling.
I apologise for removing his freedom, but explain he needs to be safe or that we need to move on to the next activity of the day.

Happy Michaelmas- celebrating Michaelmas with a toddler

Today (the 29th of September) marks Michaelmas. The Saint day celebrating St Michael defeating the dragon and the archangels in the book on revelation.
It also marks the end of the husbandry (agriculture) year- being harvest time.

Our circle time this week will feature the reading of revelation from Edwin's Children's bible.

It doesn't mention St Michael so we are bringing in some Waldorf inspiration with this poem 

The autumn wind blows open the gate,
O Michael, you, you we await.
We follow you, show us the way.
With joy we greet the autumn day,
Good morning, good morning

And I wonder who is this Michael? And I hear the wind sing:

Michael, God’s great knight,
Strong and pure and shining bright.

I have repurposed a duplo knight and a knitted lizard to help visually tell the story during the poem, and to set up in the centre of our kitchen table.

We also lit our Autumn candle during the poem. I let Edwin blow out the candle to symbolise the slaying of the dragon.

Happy Michaelmas everyone ����

Why love matters- reading list

Somehow I managed to submit my first end of module assignment for my psychology degree early. This means I've got a bit of reading time before my next module starts��
"why love matters" by Sue Gerhadt has been on my reading list for quite awhile now. I often flip through the pages at my mum's house. But it's always seemed very happy and full of psychological research papers so I've kind of put it off until I finish the University work.

A few chapters in it's still quite a heavy read. It's been made a little easier as she draws on the work of Bowlby and The Romanian orphanage study to illustrate her points about cortisol development.

So far as I can tell it mainly supports the attachment theory, but uses biology and neuroscience to "prove" how important the loving parent child relationship development is.

My key take away so far is that once put in a stressfull or scary situation (maybe being scolded or witnessing a parental argument or even road rage!) children can't self regulate themselves back into a safe emotional state. Instead they look to the adults around them. Children who's caregivers don't show them how to calm or help them can will struggle with this later in life. As a hothead (with my husband) I've taken note. Try to be a lot better at expressing myself and being calm. Definitely makes me reassured in my decision not to scold my kids too.

Deciding to home school a preschooler

Who else loves Autumn? For me it's a season of new beginnings, change and growth. For me it's actually more exciting than spring, because it's when you get a chance to finally take a step back from your year and evaluate how it's going.
Whilst taking stock this year I realised that I'm in a bit of a limbo with my toddler. 
Edwin has always been precocious and full of energy. But as he gets bigger I'm noticing a stark difference in his temperament to that of his peers.

In toddler groups and even the Waldorf class we attended, the rigidity of their set ups seem to be an affront on his scientist/explorer learning style.
Sometimes when a group is particularly busy or feature a prominent change, he goes into absolute shut down and runs.

He's not dominant in nature, but is very hard to encourage to participate in group or structured activities. Basically all of my heart is telling me that a standard preschool or kindergarten would be so the wrong place for him.

I have nightmares of my gentle and kind people pleaser being labelled as naughty. Being forced to "behave" when all he wants is to be free and play.

As a student of psychology I've taken a keen interest in how we learn, and basically our perception of how well we can learn from this early age has a marked impact on how we go forward academically. But also, more importantly you have to enjoy it, to learn well. I don't believe any child forced to follow a strict structure, when they are not ready to do so, will enjoy learning.

I've raised my concerns to my health visitor, but basically until they convince me otherwise it looks like Edwin will be home preschooled.

What an interesting Autumn it will be!

The 8 outfit 1930s wardrobe

If you are anticipating full of downton Abbey inspired wardrobe loveliness, let me break it to you gently, this isn't a post about vintage dressing. This is a post about vintage shopping.

Back in the 30's the average woman owned 9 outfits. Fast forward we now have approximately 30 outfits hanging in our wardrobe at any time.
I've been gradually clearing my clothing collection. As someone who used to work in fashion there are a few items of clothing that have sentimental reasons for keep in them. Like the shirt that I designed, or my crazy full flare Dolce and Gabbana leopard print flares that I have only worn once.

It's tough the idea of letting go of anything that has sentimental attachment. But as any mum will tell you getting dressed in the morning is tough. Most of the time I found myself either grabbing the same two things anyway, or wearing something I didn't feel comfortable in. Why was I holding on to all of these clothes?

So last week the charity shop received a bumper donation. I've completely culled back my wardrobe.

My wardrobe now contains:
Two dresses
One pair of dungarees
Three pairs of jeans
Two skirts
Three shirts
Three t-shirts
Two jumpers
Three cardigans
Two jackets
One Hoody
Two coats

Or a grand total of 8 "outfits"

It's not perfect, nor will it ever be. But noticeable improvements on the old system include:

  • I can now shop on a one in one out system reducing shopping stress
  • I can focus my money on buying quality over mass produced
  • This means I can also take the time to find more eco friendly and fairly produced clothing
  • Giving stuff to charity makes me feel good
  • There's less choice, and choice is stressful
  • I value my clothing more
  • I'm more likely to repair clothing
  • I'm not looking at shopping to fill a void
  • My wardrobe is easier to organise

Autumn on the allotment with kids

Hurrah! It's September, I love the all changes of season but summer to autumn is probably my favourite. On the allotment there's plenty of food for us to harvest, but no yucky digging. Meaning I can easily take the kids down on my own.
It's such a quiet place to be. Which is much needed when you live above a pub. I love our home but there's no forgetting where you live. The kids don't seem to mind (I guess they are more used to it as they have heard it from the womb) but the noise gets to be a bit stressful sometimes. It's like your neighbours are having a party all the time! So being down the allotment is my happy place, I'd really love to put a shed down there. Or even better a shepherds hut. Until then we are just loving all the delicious crops on offer like these raspberries
Mainly its all picking crops and a little weeding. I've got crops in pots (fennel, leeks, chicory) ready to go in the ground when I pull up my summer marrows. In between rows of slower growing plants like Kale, purple sprouting, carrots and cauliflower,  I planted (in august) fast crops of baby turnips, baby beetroots and kohl rabi. I've been pulling these up a handful at a time, in a kind of staggered thinning out of crops style to make the harvest last longer without having to preserve it yet.
We've been using a lot of the veggies for the pub. So I'm down there twice a week picking crops and once a week weeding and pottering.
Little miss M loves being outside. I'm flabbergasted when I compare how she is as a baby compared to froggy. He hated to sit still, always wanted to be carried or on the move. But my baby M, she's an observer, quite happy in the pushchair or the bouncer down the allotment. Making all the hoeing and harvesting a lot easier on my back. She just coo's at the flowers, a true free range kid.
At two froggy is finally a willing allotmenteer. He's not running off (so much) and can put some of his beautiful energy into digging or eating berries. Which given his strong urge to run off from the crowd at play groups and mothers coffee mornings, bizarrely makes the prospect of being down the allotment a lot more calming!
This month, I'm focussing frogs homeschool (or home preschool) around the theme of seeds and harvest. So the allotment has been a valuable resource. We've just sown the last of the pea's and beans for this year. Along with salad crops in the pub vegetable beds. I'm not sure if they will crop before the frost. But other homesteader mum blogs lead me to feel hopeful.
Looking for more homestead mum blogs- Sharing is caring so here are my favourites this Month



Not spending was going well....

I portioned all our food stock down and organised it, cleaned all the cupboards. I even made my own oat and coconut milk. Saturday, Sunday and Monday were all spend free.

Until real life happened. My babies have both developed colds, resulting in a grumpy toddler and a very much attached new born. Then my husband threw his back out down the allotment. Poor sod can barely walk.
So today. We did something shady, we bough convenience food. I caved. It was pretty stupid because
A- I don't feel good about it ethically speaking
B- it didn't provide my family with a balanced meal
C- it didn't really satisfy that yearning of the soul on a bad day for a good meal.

I must remember: happiness is a state of mind.