I have a confession to make...I can't read more than about 5 pages of a novel, or other book without pictures, without falling asleep. I think the last time I finished a novel was about 4 years ago, just before I realised I needed all my spare energy to finish my masters degree thesis before little M arrived or risk throwing away 4 years of work! These day's I'm a big fan of books you can dip in and out of for inspiration and momentary escapism. The Rurbanite by Alex Mitchell, my current favourite, is great for both of these things.
If grabbing a little sage from a flower bed near the local bus stop for a stew and wondering if there's room to pop a nice rosemary plant in to see if it grows better than in your small, shady and slightly damp 'garden', then I'm definitely a Rurbanite!
Acording to Alex, "city people don't have to move to the country to meet nature head on". OK, so you sometimes have to look a bit harder and think a bit creatively to get your countryside fix - The Rurbanite has great ideas to help. I completely agree that "it is a relief, [that we don't have to leave the city] because the coffee's better here" and I'm a sucker for a nice cafe...and so is little M for that matter!
The book has loads of handy advice on things like how to be a considerate guerilla gardener, what to plant in communal growing plots to foster good relationships with your fellow wannabe rurbanites (no scrapping over the three lonely ripe strawberries); and top tips on looking after our resident bee populations. A great idea if the taste of the local Stoke Newington honey is anything to go by. Soil testing, seed saving, mini-green roof making and all sort of other handy stuff including making the most of worms in the city (another sign that we're wannabe rurbanites?).
I also love the introductions to real life 'rubranites' doing interesting, inspiring and quirky things in cities around the world. I'm seeing evidence there are plenty of Rurbanites at work here in Brooklyn where we're currently on holiday before heading to a family wedding near Washington (more on that soon!)
And of course, the recipes...
In reality my attempts to grow veg and create an urban oasis in the yard behind our flat suggest I'm a novice rurbanite at best...but perhaps with inspiration from this book there's hope yet!
Today was a good day. And yesterday was a great day. Both packed full of simple pleasures, mini-milestones, and lots of smiles.
Little M’s adventures with her new bike have made me smile most. Yesterday she got the whole cycling thing. We got her a bike a month or two ago after much deliberating about the whole balance bike vs sparkly bike with stabilisers thing. I know in theory kids learn faster by starting of on balance bikes but Little M was so insistent on a ‘proper’ bike and our flat so lacking in storage that we went for the not-very-sparkly-lightweight-one-with-stabilisers compromise that should last her a while. For a few reasons we hadn’t really got going with the bike much, I was starting to wonder if we'd made the wrong call. We made cautious practice trips last week with little M concentrating very hard on pedaling and steering, and me hovering very close by to head off any rogue maneuvers.
Then yesterday something changed as she was pedaling along on our way to the mini-plot. She was singing a song, no longer having to think carefully about pushing each pedal down and nimbly steering her way past the lumps and bumps on the path in the park. Suddenly I had to jog to keep up and neither of us could keep a smile off our faces! Fellow cyclists rang their bells at her and she smiled back - she was one of them now! We had a proper day out and about, post office, shop, mini-plot, and playground with little M cycling all the way. Very exciting! A cycling nursery run is definitely not far off.
We also shared a first - eating home grown carrots fresh from the ground (well, after we gave them a good wash at the stand-pipe). Little M led the way...after she'd finished off the tiny strawberry harvest. I can't believe I've never done this before! Little L, back to form after a horrible bug, wanted to join in, of course, but her teeth weren't really up to it yet. I know people talk about how childrens' attitudes to food are changed by getting involved in food growing but I've often though that, once they've tasted marshmallows, kids will love getting messy but don't necessarilly get particularly excited by eating the veg. Little M loves sweets. And yet she declared the carrots were her favourite thing that day, pipping the strawberries and the rare sweets she'd persuaded me to include in our picnic to the post! I may have to rethink my skepticism about the benefits of growing our own!
We had another lovely day today, trying out a new art class with friends where little M wrote 'mum' for the first time - she made a set of luggage tags for our upcoming holidays. She also made a very sensible guess at how to spell her sister's name for her tag. She didn't use all the right letters, but it was phonetically correct - a very proud moment. Both girls played nicely with other children at a friend's house. And I got to have a nice chat and a cuppa (not to mention a lovely impromptu lunch). Simple pleasures.
I suspect there are one million and one tasks I was supposed to be doing along-side the art classes, carrot eating and cycle rides. Little L had been ill, I'd been away with work and then off work looking after her. Probably a good thing I'd accidentally left my mobile at home!
It's good to go with flow sometimes, to slow down and stop worrying about the things you forgot to do and appreciate life's simple pleasures. I might have been incapable of even writing my "to do list" over the last few days, let alone doing it (falling asleep while trying to read bedtime stories probably tells you enough), but the things we've done should definitely have been on the list. And probably all the better for the lack of the rest of the "to do list"!
One of my favourite activities of the last few weeks has been flower pressing. It started one sunny day when our patio garden had sprung back into life after the horrible cold winter. It's a little unloved. Despite it's small size I'm still struggling to properly tame it and make it into an urban oasis. Yet amongst the chaos flowers were popping up and cascading over the fence from next door. Little M would have picked every single flower in sight if I'd let her - pressing the flowers seemed like a good diversion to continue the flower based activities without destroying the garden!
Everything we used was grabbed on the spur of the moment - some scrap paper torn into appropriate sizes, a pile of books...and the flowers - that's it. I had a flower pressing kit when I was young but this rough and ready approach seemed to work just as well. We layered the flowers between pieces of paper - I think we had three layers. Then we picked a few heavy books - one went on the bottom, then the flowers and then about five more on top. I popped it on top of a high bookshelf where it would be out of reach and easily forgotten. I actually expect little M to be pestering to see them every day but the spot I picked was well tucked away and she forgot about them completely I think.
Until one day when we needed something to lighten the mood! Hey presto - instant sunshine!
I stepped outside and covered some coloured paper with spray glue - probably not very environmentally friendly but I've had it languishing in the draw for years and this seemed like a good chance to make use of it. It worked a treat as the fragile flowers could be laid straight onto the paper.
The results were slightly chaotic - little M got rather excited by the whole process and stuck nearly all the flowers down in about two minutes! A great two minutes fun though!
I think we should hide flowers on top of the book case more often to whip out when we both need a little cheering up. I don't think we'll ever quite repeat little M's amazement when she opened up the papers and found the pressed flowers but I'm sure we'll have fun with this many times.
I had a plan yesterday. We started the weekend with few plans so I'd booked myself a haircut after putting it off for months. I was last minute as ever so could only get a slightly inconvenient 1pm appointment. I also felt compelled not to waste the opportunity for a bike ride created by the good weather. I wasn't feeling prepared for a whole day's cycle - no pre-planned route up my sleeve - or inclined to put off the haircut any longer. I thought, with my cunning plan, that we could get the best of both worlds.
Set out earlyish, cycle to a park a few miles away, and try out a new breakfast spot. I'd heard good things about the breakfasts in Victoria Park and Springfield Park - both only a few miles away. After some playground fun with the girls we'd then meander back in time for my haircut. Or I'd head back alone if the others were having so much fun they couldn't tear themselves away. And that would leave a good chunk of afternoon to play with - pottering with the girls, perhaps a spot of DIY, finish cutting the hedge. A dose of suburban Sundayness tempered by a mini-adventure in the morning.
It became apparent early in the bike ride that we'd had one of those mouth-disconnected-from-memory-whilst-playing-computer-game type conversations on Saturday night. The finer points of my plan, which I'm sure had been called "a great idea", clearly hadn't sunk in. Our exit from the house was a little bumpy, it was later than planned and there was much pedal-dragging when we finally set off.
We cycled in stoney silence for a mile or so until we both saw our exit plan at the same time - The Russet cafe. There are few places I'd rather be if I have to admit defeat on a bike ride. And technically, as we'd never eaten breakfast here, and it's next to a park, we were still with the plan!
We both agreed it was one of the best breakfasts we've ever had - my 'Veggie Pippin' tasted much better than it looks in the picture below! Our waitress was so lovely too. She negotiated a lack of jam situation with little L (to go with her wholesome looking banana pancakes) with incredible skill! The place is really well set up for kids. They have a slightly separate area with sofas and a really good stash of toys, colouring stuff, tiny chairs and proper high chairs, a kids menu of similar food to the main menu and a few trusty packets of squeezy, organic fruit if it's one of those days!
So the breakfast was a resounding success, the playground action was OK, I did manage to get a haircut, and we fitted in a good bit of pottering. And the bike ride? I'll mark that one down as recognaissance for the local child-friendly cafes and parks cycling route I have forming in my head.
I have fallen in love with this great Hackney Cafe Crawl poster that was on sale at the Russet - as soon as I can figure out where to put it I'll be nipping back on my bike to get one...and I might just find room for another breakfast too.
Time, eh? Life's been feeling a bit hectic recently. I get to the end of most days with that 'not enough time in the day' feeling.
Some of the reasons are good. Great in fact - long cycle rides in the sunshine, picnics, exploring new parks, visiting friends and family, peaceful moments soaking in the last of the evening's sun at the allotment. All valid reasons, in my book, to let a teeny backlog of chores develop.
Some are less good. Bedtime wrangles and night-time wakings from little people, forced early nights to stave off exhaustion, juggling work diaries with my other half and the inevitable 'split-shift' some days as working in the evening becomes essential after an early nursery pick-up cuts the work day in two.
And some stuff fits neatly in the middle. Like holidays (yippee) that prove more expensive and tricky to organise than anticipated (boo hiss). I have to admit to getting unreasonably grumpy at times this week because the only non-chore activity I've done most evenings has been flailing around the internet for accommodation in New York...for 4th July...in the week when airbnb's legality was questioned. Talk about timing! We found a corker in the end and I can't wait.
There's nothing like a hectic life to make me value time that I can truly call my own. Time to myself, time to give something (like my children for example!) my undivided attention, time to expand horizons beyond day-to-day routines. And to ponder how happy I am with how I spend my time. A welcome kick-up the arse disguised as tiredness and stress (I can always find a bright-side to situations if I try hard enough...took quite a while to find this one!).
I'm giving myself a pat on the back for spending lots more time outdoors, enjoying rambling around our mini-plot with the girls and going on adventures with our new bike trailer. And accepting (or at least trying to accept) the slight domestic chaos that results. When Martin was away for a week with work, the bike trailer gave me such freedom to explore with the girls in tow. And we've enjoyed cycling as a family too - 26km on the spur of the moment on a sunny bank hols! More on that soon, I promise.
But I definitely haven't cracked the eternal conundrum yet. I'm constantly pondering what can I do quicker, wondering what should I prioritise, trying to figure out how can I create more time for things I enjoy. And reluctantly thinking about what I have to sigh and admit defeat about (perhaps at least temporarilly) - like the home improvement tasks that languish unloved in various corners of the flat. I realistically get a couple of childfree hours once every two to three weeks when I could do noisy or messy home improvement stuff. But actually I'd like a haircut, or to go for a swim, or to go out with my camera - all things that can be hard to achieve in that far too short part of the day when the kids are in bed and the chores are done.
What on earth are you doing writing a blog I hear you ask. I've asked myself the same question a few times recently. Well. I enjoy writing the blog, the different mental space it takes me to, the new inspiration I've discovered through bloggy connections I've made, and how it encourages me to take a step back and think about how I spend my time. I'll admit that, now I'm back at work, extra screen-time doesn't always sit well - I very rarely blog after a day in the office even if I do have time. But after a day scrambling around the floor with children it's a welcome retreat. A reminder to make some time for me.
So I'm going to stick with it.
As time, including time I spend blogging, is precious I'm going to do my best to blog about the things I care about most. In my mind I'm a fanatical foodie, a DIY goddess, an avid edible-gardner, a charity-shop bargain finding queen, a slow-travelling adventurer, a dazzlingly brilliant make-do-and-mender, jam-maker extrordinaire, living in a social whirl with an amazing musical soundtrack and changing the world by working three days a week. Oh...and a mother with endless patience who simultaneously inspires and comforts my brood. I might be all of those things if I had five times as much time on my hands! I'm doing quite well at jam making.
The things I really, really love are good food, cycling, travelling, spending time outdoors, learning new things, and quirky back street cafes. And having a career I'm passionate about...saving world and all that jazz.
I'll be doing my best to combine those with that small mothering thing! And seeing more of my friends and family. So I now need to work out how far the cycle ride is to see all my friends and family, and where the best places are to get food along the way. You think I'm joking? Only half perhaps!
That lot should give me plenty to write about. I might occassionally divert into recycled craftiness, or posts about squishing domestic chores back in their box and sustainable living ideas that don't use up too much precious time.
I'm planning to post a few highlights of the last few weeks in the next few days...mostly bike rides.
And will do my best to make this the last time I ramble away about lack of sleep or time. Life's too short.
I promised at the end of our veggie month to start a series of posts of vegful feasts - great meals that are either vegetarian, or have loads of extra veg tucked inside to make the meat go further, without sacrifising on taste. So here's my first one. And it's a corker (even if I do say so myself).
One of my favourite recipes of all time is Nigel Slater's lamb and beetroot meatballs. Coming from someone that only started eating meat and beetroot - both slightly reluctantly - a couple of years ago that's a pretty big compliment! They're one of the most flavourful, succulent things I've ever tasted. Along with the lamb and beetroot they contain a good garlic punch, fresh dill and parsley, and bulgar wheat (and a few other store cupboard bits and bobs too). When cooked it's amazing - the additional ingredients seem to enhance the flavour of the meat rather than dilute it. Having grown up on a traditional meat and two veg diet this truly inspired way of cooking meat that is a revelation to me.
Another current favourite along similar lines are the amazing turkey, courgette and cumin mini-burgers in one of my favourite cookbooks, Jeruselum by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. They're a delicious mixture of minced turkey, grated courgette, fresh herbs, cumin, spring onions with some cayenne pepper and an egg to bind them together. The recipe suggests using fresh corriander and mint. I've actually tried them with various combinations of parsley, corriander and mint and they've all tasted great. I actually added some bulgar wheat to these once too as we had guests coming and the recipe portions are a bit stingy - still lovely.
I'm not including the full recipe here - partly because I don't want to fall foul of copyright law - but mainly because the beauty of this idea is that, following a pretty basic approach you can add whatever amazing veg and flavours you fancy.
You can pretty much see the basic process in the pictures above:
1. Put your minced meat, grated veg, herbs, cooked carbs (e.g. bulgar wheat or couscous) and spices in a bowl, add an egg (or just some leftover egg white if you have some that needs using up). For 400g to 500g of meat it seems like you can add 200g to 250g of grated veg and around 75g (dried weight) of carbs.
2. Squish everything together with your hands and shape into small patties.
3. Fry the patties until browned on all sides and then finish of in a medium hot oven until cooked through - 10 to 20 mins depending on the size.
4. Serve with a tangy yoghurty dressing of some sort - the turkey burgers below have a zesty sauce with added sumac.
The two combinations I mention are definitely worth seeking out. They're going to stay on our menu as firm favourites. Little M is a particular fan (although we've toned the garlic down a bit for her) and even the fussy little M has braved the lamb ones. I'm also looking forward to experimenting a bit. Top tips for new combos welcome!
My garden is a bit lacking in herbs at the moment so I usually have to buy big buches from the shops for recipes like these. Fresh pesto is a great way to use up the leftovers. I tried out a new recipe for coriander pesto that I discovered in The Simple Things magazine (well worth a read) after making the turkey patties. Very zingy and morish - it didn't last long!
I really do have enough great cookbooks but I'm quite tempted by this one - a whole host more meatball inspiration!
"Look! The sea's waving!" said little M, as we sped down to Cornwall via the beautiful coastal train line last March. It was so cute that I was almost in tears in the middle of the carriage - I'll blame pregnancy hormones and lost sleep because of an offspring-breathing-difficulties-hospital-drama a couple of days prior. To say I was looking forward to a few days at Bedruthan Hotel & Spa, a child-friendly, sustainable, luxury (in my view!) hotel, five minutes walk from a beach - a treat for my first week of maternity leave before little L arrived - was an understatement. And seeing little M start to get excited about a change of scene was the icing on the cake. I wasn't disappointed and have been plotting a return trip ever since. My birthday weekend, the bank holiday weekend just gone, seemed like a great excuse!
I have to admit our return visit didn't start off well. Fretting about negotiating rush hour public transport with children and luggage to catch our 10am train, we opted for a taxi to Paddington station...and missed our train. It was a HUGE relief when I realised our tickets, booked a couple of months earlier and promptly erased from my memory, were flexible (valuable lessons in there somewhere!). We caught a later train, still feeling chuffed that we hadn't had to buy new tickets, and things started looking up after that.
Bedruthan is in an amazing location on the North Cornish coast, with beautiful sea views and steps winding directly down to lovely sandy beach. It's a great place to escape to for fresh air, good food, fun for the kids and some rare quality time together for mum and dad too. When we first visited, I was almost 8 months pregnant and really wanted the easy option - maximum holiday fun with minimum effort. Swimming pool, indoor adventure playground, lots of outdoor play areas, a spa, free childrens club, and a baby-monitor service so you can enjoy a leisurely child-free dinner in one of the hotel's two restaurants - no brainer really. I was slightly lighter on my feet this time but still appreciated having all the ingredients of a great holiday a stone's throw away - a great car-free family break.
We started our holiday, after a quick family swim and kids tea-time, with an adults only dinner in the hotel's Herring restaurant whilst relaxing to the sound of a very talented accoustic guitar player and watching a beautiful sunset over the sea. I had some great sustainably sourced scallops, and pan-fried monkfish (I think - although I might be getting confused with the following night, which was also lovely) with unsual and very tasty fennel and licorice aacompaniments. Despite a couple of trips downstairs to check on activity from little L the evening seemed to drift by gently - not something I've experienced for a while. We ate in the Wild Cafe other nights and had some very tasty food and sunset views there too, if not quite the repeat of the ambience of the first night.
On the Saturday we booked the children into The Beehive, the onsite children's club, for a couple of hours (free of charge!). We knew little M would love it - she kept asking to go back last time - but surprisingly, little L who had take quite a while to relax properly at nursery, also took to it like a duck to water - a testement to the staff and a sign that little L is growing up! I used the break to indulge in a birthday treat massage and facial - bliss - and Martin relaxed in the spa.
The rest of our time was spent pinging between the beach, the swimming pool, the outdoor and indoor play areas. The beach was a massive highlight since we were blessed with gorgeous weather. Little L had her first paddle in the sea, we all had a go at flying our kite, and it was great to see little M meandering around the beach enjoying a vastly different horizon to her usual city streets. The girls both loved the ball pools in the indoor play area - I thought little L would be a bit young for most of the equipment just a few weeks after her first birthday but she loved it, and pretty much shunned the separate baby area full of soft things to climb on in favour of the big girls toys!
We stayed in a 'standard villa' - an ensuite room with a childrens' sleeping area divided off by a cupboard and a blind. The best feature was the sea view and the patio opening on the main childrens' play area. While little L napped, Martin and I sat in the sun watching little M hanging with her crew of older girls in the playground. There was a slightly amusing moment when the boys were playing football and the girls all sat on the grass verge watching!! A reminder of how strong social norms can be even at age 3! We also had a tiny kitchen with microwave, handy for heating up milk, just a few meters down the corridor.
I didn't do much detective work on the hotel's sustainability credentials whilst I was there - I was too busy holidaying. There's info on their website here. Lots of things they do are clear to see - plenty of local, seasonal food and sustainable fish on all the hotel menus, the standard hotel policies on waiting to replace towels etc. until asked, and more unique touches like the organic, locally made, shampoo bars (as in bar of soap) they provide for guests. And a treat if you turn up without a car - ten percent off our first night last time and a bottle of prosecco this time (well almost - we ended up with the price of the bottle discounted after a bit of confusion - still a lovely touch though). The hotel is still run by the daughters of the original owners and I'm pretty sure they genuinely care about doing the right thing. The whole place has a lovely vibe. The staff are also very friendly and very...err...human, you know - not like they've had to be trained to be hospitable.
There were one or two minor quibbles - an under-whelming, custard-like "bitter chocolate" desert, one or two incandenscent light bulbs spotted in the cafe, slightly slow service in the cafe on one occasion, and internet that was pretty patchy in our room - the last one on the corridor. But like I said - they're minor and didn't detract from a great holiday.
I was wondering if Cornwall was too far for a long weekend. We had such a lovely time that I won't have doubts again - I'm thinking of making it an annual birthday treat. We all felt properly refreshed by our break - amazing given little L's monkey business at night, which was worse than usual on account of a new tooth on the way (only 13 more to go:-( ). The train journeys there and back seemed to whizz by - the lovely views definitely help. Little M keeps asking "When can we go back to the hotel?" and excitedly blurting out "swimming pool", "ball pool" "hotel" to friends she's bumped into since the weekend. I feel like we've discovered a little gem that we'll return to for a little pick-me up once a year at least (budget permitting!).
The transport low down: We travelled from London Paddington to Bodmin Parkway which took approx 3 hrs 45mins and cost around £150 for the whole family (two adult and one child tickets with a family rail card). A taxi from Bodmin Parkway to the hotel is around £40. The hotel booked a local biotaxi for us.
P.S. We paid for our holiday at Bedruthan - I don't do sponsored reviews (although I might have made an exception to go here!) on my blog.
Finally, a few frost free weeks! I am really, really enjoying the sunshine. It's much, much more relaxing spending time outdoors with the girls when it's not freezing cold or tipping it down with rain. And so we've finally started thinking about growing things again. Our estate is modest - a large raised bed around the edge of our patio garden and a small (about the size of a single bed) plot in the grounds of a local climbing centre - but I intend to make the most of our tiny taste of rural life in the city!
Through the long winter our resident worms remind us that, one day the sun will shine and we'll be able to get growing, whiling away the hours with dirt between our fingers. We invested in a wormery a couple of years ago. It seemed ridiculous to be sending our vegetable scraps off to be composted by the local council, only to then find it a big hassle to find, and transport, the bags of peat-free compost we wanted for growing a few veggies. Making our own compost makes a lot of sense practically and is a great environmental education tool. I had no idea it would be such a hit with little M. She loves it.
Little M often asks "Mummy, can I feed the worms" please. We bought a 'Worm Cafe' kit complete with some 'worm treat' to keep the worms healthy. It really captured her imagination and she has developed a near obsession for dishing out the worm treat. She'll happily sit tearing up egg boxes for them and always reminds me to save some scraps for the worms when we're cooking together. The first time a nursery pal came around for a play-date she was proudly taken outside to help feed the worms. Let's not dwell so much on the time that little M threatened to feed Dee Dee Dragon, little L's favourite toy, to the worms in a moment of sibbling jealously!
Despite little M's enthusiam, our worms have been a tiny bit neglected, hidden behind kitchen remnants and builders rubble during our refurbishment work last autumn and then just on the receiving end the horribly long winter we've just had. But quite a lot of them are still working away so we had a lovely crop of compost ready to harvest to give the veggies we've been planting this week a good start. Little M was delighted to dig out a carrier bag full to take up to the mini-plot, pretty pleased with the results of all her months of feeding the worms.
The girls and I spent a lovely day this week pottering around the garden and (after a slightly fraught trip to the garden centre) finally getting a few things planted in our mini-plot. It felt idyllic. We shared a picnic in the sunshine and had fun spotting tadpoles in the wildlife pond that's tucked away in a hidden corner. Two over-excited small children and a pond left no hands free for snapping a picture - little L really wanted to dive in and was wrigglier than the tadpoles - but I have a picture etched in my mind of four tiny hands reaching to touch the tadpoles with the sun glinting on the water.
The only things left living in the plot were a couple of strawberry plants and a few forgotten onions. One onion provide a welcome decoy for an enthusiastic little L who spent long enough dipping it in and out of the watering can for little M and I to get a few plants and seeds into their new homes. We've got plenty of seeds left to get going at home - great entertainment for a spare half hour on a weekday. Little L wants to be outside all the time. I don't blame her - you can see in her face how excited she is by her first ever experiences of independent exploring in the sunshine. I think we'll be spending lots of time in our very modest 'garden' this summer. Kids instinctively know what the good things in life are!
It's Real Nappy Week - time for a nappy update! I've used real nappies for quite a while - a nappy laundry service to start with for little M and more recently washing little L's myself at home. We'll be using them for the next year or so (unless little L's slightly unnerving attempts to potty train herself this week continue). Little L, who has just turned 1, now goes to a day nursery 3 days a week as I'm back at work. Seems like a good time to share my experiences of using real nappies when your little one is at nursery.
We actually have a pretty simple system. We take enough nappies for the day into the nursery each morning in a small wet-bag. We tend to leave them a few extra inserts (the absorbent bits that go inside a coloured, waterproof cover) and a roll of liners to make up extra nappies if they need to and one or two disposables as back-up. The carers happily use the nappies and then give us the wet bag back at the end of the day full of dirty nappies. It seems to work fine. You could easily take a bigger batch in at the start of the week - nurseries are usually acustomed to storing big packs of disposables. We find it more manageable to take small amounts each day as we're travelling by bike (post coming soon on this!)
I've found some differences to using nappies at home. At home I would rinse a nappy cover that had only had a tiny bit of wee on it and use it once or twice more throughout the day. The nursery staff don't do this as they have nowhere handy to dry them. I tend to make up the nappies for the day and they just use them as they would a pile of disposables. This does mean it's handy to have a few extra covers as by the end of the day, even if they have only been used once, the covers are not really in a fit state to rinse and re-use.
I guess the first step we took was to ask the nursery if they're happy to use the nappies. Ours was completely fine with it, as were others we visited when we were first choosing which one to send little M to. Our nursery actually had the large nappy bin from the laundry service on site for a while when one family found it more convenient to have the nappy collection from the nursery rather than their home. Whilst it feels polite to ask the nursery staff...really there's very little for them to get stressed about. The system we use means that little L has a nice neat basket of nappies, wipes, cream etc. just the same as all the other children. Modern washable nappies are pretty easy to use. AND nurseries pay to get rid of your kid's dirty nappies - if more parents use real nappies, they might be able to trim down their waste collection bills. I think, you should assume it's fine - it's a completely reasonable thing to expect that you can continue using real nappies at nursery.
Fancy trying out some nappies for yourself? Have a potter around cyber-space as there are few competitions on the go at the moment - try this Real Nappy Week Facebook page or the 'Go Real' site. Or if you're lucky enough to live in one of the eight London Borough's taking part, you can grab yourself a Real Nappies for London completely free voucher that you can use to buy yourself some nappies or sample a laundry / home delivery service.
Probably about time I stopped rambling on about nappies now!