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Wildflower seeds, Highgrove and head colds

Posted by Dawn Isaac on 13 Sep 2010 at 12:38 PM

"Please don't walk on Mummy's head, darling!"

When I uttered these pained words I realised my weekend was not going well. A husband away for a stag weekend in Amsterdam, a streaming cold and the need to entertain three hyperactive children does not make for a good combination.  At this point I had collapsed on the sofa, my body making it quite clear it could talk or stand but definitely not both at the same time.

Of course, this was all my own fault.  I had, after all, taken a whole day off that week. An indulgent, child-free, 12 hour break, touring Highgrove with fellow Tweeters (covered with far more panache that I can manage both here and here). Not only that, the trip coincided with the first day of term. This officially made me a Bad Mother so at the very least I was expecting a plague of frogs.  In the circumstances, I think I got off lightly with a head cold and an absentee spouse.

What's more, I found that the garden came to my rescue.  It began with a simple request: 

"Could you go and collect some wildflower seeds?"

This is my latest go-to suggestion, on a par with "Could you catalogue your Polly Pocket accessories?", when it comes to distracting the kids. They have become a little obsessed with seed collecting recently - not least because Ava has begun a production line of seed packets to put in her birthday guest's party bags.

Basically, they look for the ripest seeds amongst the corncockles, cornflowers, poppies and corn chamomile and then shake or scrape them into a container with a close fitting lid.  We tend to use old margarine tubs.  In fact our house appears to be filled with old margarine containers almost none of which have anything close to resembling margarine in them. 

The key is to make sure the seeds stay as dry as possible which means throwing in a few silica gel packets or you can make your own desiccant by putting in a tablespoon of dried milk powder wrapped up in a piece of napkin.

Anyway, with wildflower seeds on their mind, Ava and Oscar swiftly departed outside.  I think they returned about an hour and a half later.  Not only had they collected seeds, they had also made a sand castle city, set up a school for creepy crawlies, bounced on the trampoline and dug up some bones. This latter caused much excitement with discussions about which woodland animal, dinosaur, or mythical creature they could have come from until it became clear they were the carcass from last week's roast chicken.

The only downside? Archie appeared to be completely uninterested in any outdoor distractions. Walking on his mother's head though, now that's what a two-year old calls entertainment.

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