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A Fresh New Look

A while back we bought these chairs second hand. As much as they were a much needed addition to our dining room, white was never going to work in a house with three kids. So I started hunting for some fabric and found this fun design at a local sewing fair.

I've had a go once before at adding new fabric to a chair and it's a pretty straightforward process (even with a baby pulling at your fabric from below!) A quick unscrewing of the seat, cutting out a fabric square, stapling it on, trimming the fabric, and screwing the seats back on was all it took. The corners are always a little bit fiddly and I guess this gets easier the more you do it.

I'm really pleased with the results! I've got a couple of other chairs that also need new fabric. Slightly different projects as one needs new cushion covers and the the other needs fabric on cushions and the actual chair base. Any excuse for a bit of fabric shopping!

How Are You?

Hello. How are we all? I'm not going to lie. It's been pretty easy to shut out the outside world from our little corner of the world. The kids and I haven't left the house since last Saturday, a week ago. Andrew has been out a couple of times for supplies but otherwise we've been here, pottering about, keeping the kids occupied and getting jobs done. I'm am more than aware that we are in a very fortunate position having the space that we do for the kids to run free. We can wander around our land without the fear of bumping into anyone. But still... these are worrying times.

If I amuse myself with the hear and now, our day to day living, I'm OK. If I watch too much news, or spend too much time on Facebook, or start thinking about the future, the worries start to spiral out of control. These worries are not just about our lives, but also for those of friends and family, of all the local businesses, the kids missing out on time with their friends...

There's a lot to think about over the next few weeks and months. There's no doubt that change is in the air and I'm optimistic that these changes will be for the greater good. I feel compelled to get back onto this space more regularly, posting stories about what we're getting up to to keep ourselves positive.

We truly hope that wherever you are in the world you are safe and well. Do get in touch and let us know how you're coping and what you're getting up to. We'd love to hear from you!

DuPrem Alpaca Farm - Alphabet Adventures

Have you ever felt the softness of alpaca wool? As we browsed the boutique at DuPrem Alpaca Farm we were encouraged to touch, stroke, and press against our cheeks the products on sale so we could feel for ourselves. It's gorgeous! Nestled in the heart of the Averyon countryside the Alpaca Boys have set up a farm and offer tours (5€ per adult) for people to meet and learn all about alpacas.

Alpacas are funny creatures. When we saw them at DuPrem their heavy coats had been sheared off and we were amused with their tufts of head hair that keep them shaded from the glare of the summer sun. The babies had been born and were penned in with their mothers, and the males (the studs) were casually grazing under the trees. Daimen, who gave us the tour, gave us an informative talk about their farm. Happy to answer all our questions we learnt about the animals, how they were mated to try and create the greatest gene pool that resulted in the best wool, how long the females were in gestation (11 months), the amount of wool they produce and how it's graded (by touch), what they eat, and the crazy prices that some alpacas around the world have sold for.

The Alpaca Boys not only produce products made with alpaca wool to buy, they also sell alpacas! Whether it's to help people set up their own farm or just for pets, they are there to help with all your alpaca needs. What do you think...should we add alpacas to our list of animals at Wild Oak Wood? I think it would be a good idea to keep them with the chickens, they might help ward off predators!

If you book onto Ania Grzeszek's Natural Dyeing retreat this August we'll be visiting the DuPrem Alpaca Farm so you'll be able to meet them for yourselves! Full details are on our website Wild Oak Wood. Places are limited so get in touch if you're interested.

Wild Oak Wood Retreats

Happy New Year! We've had a lovely two weeks celebrating Christmas (Phoebe's first!) and New Year with family and friends, but now it's time to get down to business! This year is a big one for us. Due to Phoebe's arrival we postponed our campsite opening till this year, but we've decided to do things a little differently. We recently launched our series of retreats that we will be hosting over the summer and we're more than a little excited. We're keen to share our space and work with people that share the same ethos as us and so last year we reached out to people who we knew we would like to work with. We have three wonderful teachers who are coming here this summer to inspire you during week long retreats, showcasing the best of what they do in the beautiful surrounds that we live in.

Rewilding with Nes Bear
Here at Wild Oak Wood we're surrounded by nature. Nessa is inviting you to rewild yourself with a week of yoga and meditation alongside workshops that immerse you in the wild. With basket weaving, campfire baking, fire lighting and a wild swimming session, the week is designed to slow you down and help you find peace at our beautiful nature surrounded home.

Taste of The Good Life with Sara from Hen Corner
Country Living columnist Sara Ward in my eyes is a smallholding Queen! From her Victorian terrace in London alongside keeping chickens and bees and running a micro bakery she holds courses in everything from breadmaking, preserving, keeping bees, chickens and more. She is combining a lot of what she does into one jam packed week. With visits to local producers and hands on workshops you'll leave with a wealth of knowledge to start your own 'Good Life' journey!

Natural Dyeing with Ania from Kaliko
Ania Grzeszek is a natural dyer and weaver making small batch products in her Berlin based studio. In her week long retreat you'll learn different dyeing techniques using dye plants for their colouring powers. With hands on workshops including learning how to prepare fibres, how to create a spectrum of colours, indigo dyeing and a trip to a local alpaca farm, by the end of the week you'll have all the tools you need to create your own naturally dyed products.

We've already started to take bookings but places are still available on all courses. If you're interested visit Wild Oak Wood and get in touch to reserve your place today. We're looking forward to meeting some of you in the summer!

Hello September

Hello September! As usual we welcome you with open arms. The boys were so excited for their first day back at school they couldn't sleep the night before...you would have thought it was Christmas Eve! The days are cooling down, the cyclamen are starting to raise their heads (a sure sign that September is here) and this week has been all about finding our new rhythm.

I'm realising it's pretty much impossible to get anything done with a 3 month old around. I've dramatically reduced my daily to do list and if I achieve just one thing a day I'm taking that as an achievement. We've been spending a lot of time in the kitchen. The sloes are soaking in gin, the tomatoes have been whizzed into Andrew's hot pepper sauce, and the giant courgettes have been blitzed and frozen as soup. We've been picking figs for jam and I'm experimenting with beet kvass with a recipe from this book.

Our evenings are spent reading Harry Potter. We started (and finished) the first book over the summer and the boys are well and truly hooked. I haven't allowed them to watch the films until we read the book but I wanted to wait until they were old enough to enjoy the story and have the staying power to last the length of the books. We watched the first film last weekend and have swiftly started book two.

We have some exciting things on the horizon. I'm about to get busy with my sewing machine and the crochet hooks have been out making products for upcoming Christmas markets. We will also be launching some very exciting Wild Oak Wood news before the end of the year so make sure you're signed up to our mailing list to be the first to receive the news!

How's your September shaping up?

Summer Heatwave Activities

I learnt a new French word this recently...canicule. It means heatwave, which is what we've been experiencing for what feels like forever. The grass is parched, the flowers are dead, the veg patch is suffering, and we're constantly covered in a layer of sticky sweat that is attracting all the biting flies. It might as well be raining everyday as it's too hot to play outside. So the boys have been amusing themselves in the cool inside, mainly with Lego and episodes of Ninjago, but every so often I manage to steer them away and distract them with another activity.

Throughout the school year Jacob got into comic books so I bought the boys these blank comic book pages to have a go at creating their own. They've really enjoyed these and I like seeing them being imaginative (which they're very good at thanks to Lego) coming up with lots of mini story lines. At the moment they're working in pencil but I'm really hoping they're going to colour it all in because I think it will turn them into wonderful books.

I also got them these 10 minute maths books. They come with a timer and the idea is that you try and do a page a day within 10 minutes. Well they haven't done a page a day and they're a bit intimidated by the timer so haven't used it yet. But when they're in the mood they're happy to sit and work through a few pages. I initially got Reuben the 9-11 year book (he'll be 10 in August) but he found it a little tricky so we're starting with the 7-9 book. I'm realising that although he's good at maths I'm not up to date with what he's been learning here in his French school. Also he's using very different techniques to what we used (all those years ago!) so I'm going to have to relearn methods all over again if I'm going to be able to help him.

How are you keeping kids entertained this summer?

School's Out For The Summer!

Life has changed quite a bit since I last wrote. In May we welcomed Phoebe into our lives and she has slotted in rather nicely! She's still quite mini so sleeps a lot on and off. The boys love her, we love her, and she's been getting a huge amount of attention everywhere we go. Last week the boys had their last day at school and the Summer holidays have officially begun. There was a bit of a bumpy start as both boys were in tears at the thought of not being with their friends for the next two months, but they slowly seem to be getting into the new rhythm. I've got some activities planned, there are some music festivals we'll be attending, parties that we've been invited to, and Summer markets to visit.

It's been so crazy hot here recently there's not much more we can do except hang about by the pool. If it's like this over the next two months it's going to be hard to get anything done as by 11 o'clock it's already too hot to move. My garden is suffering and I'm already debating whether it's worth keeping up with the watering or whether it's best to let things wither away. I can clearly see what works in the heat and what needs to go. I'll be making some major changes in Autumn and I'm always on the lookout for plants that can survive this heat. If you've got any tips or plants you think might work send them our way!

I hope wherever you are Summer has got off to a good start. Let us know what you're up to, if you have any ideas for keeping kids entertained, and if you're in the area come say Hi!
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