Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Reflections on 2008

It’s been a strange one 2008. I’ve come to expect the unexpected. I’ve seen real highs and real lows. I’ve wept with laughter, joy, despair and gut wrenching fear. I’ve paced around our kitchen table with my head in my hands - but then I’ve danced round it too more times than I could mention.

I’ve learned not to take things for granted. Security can literally disappear in a puff of smoke. I’ve learned that things aren’t always as they seem - all that glistens isn’t gold. I certainly have seen the good, the bad and the downright ugly this year.

Thankfully nothing’s fallen down that can’t be rebuilt, and that being the case 2008 has presented us with opportunities - opportunities to rebuild and reshape areas of our life with the benefit of knowledge, experience and hindsight.

The troubles we’ve had have really served to strengthen my personal relationships. I’ve learned that I have friends and a community that will support me when the going’s tough.

I’m not sure I will make any resolutions this coming year, save for to continue to live, love and laugh – oh and perhaps see a successful conclusion to our ongoing legal battle with the insurance company that likes to say ‘NO’ *grin*.

Wishing you all a joyous 2009.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Indoor greens

Not deterred by my rather dismal attempt at growing indoor greens before, (sunflower greens about a year ago if I remember rightly), I planted some chard and rocket seeds in the kitchen last week. The tiny shoots are starting to show and we're all keeping an eye on them.
We still have chard and rocket in the garden and it's still growing, but it grows very slowly in winter and we've also found the leaves are really tough, even when small.

I'm so pleased that the children will eat these greens that I feel I must do my best to grow them. They don't eat many other leaves. Here's hoping the indoor chard and rocket will be more successful than the sunflower greens.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Keeping busy

Thank you ever so much everyone for your kind comments below. We're doing alright. All keeping busy - it tends to be the coping strategy of choice around here.

I dug the last of the roots out of the garden this afternoon. Here are a few jerusalem artichokes. I don't know what we'll do when these have gone. They've become a real hit in our veggie stew with dumplings.

Dug up the last of the parsnips too for what they're worth. The roots have all separated probably due to the clay soil we have here. I had been warned that the gentleman who lived here before us tried for years to grow carrots and parsnips without success - but I had to try and see for myself.

I've been rummaging through my seed box too and making plans. I'm feeling really fired up about my growing plans for this coming year. As some of you know I have had my name down for an allotment for a while. Well, I now have a much better solution. A couple of friends who live nearby don't feel able to manage their garden and this is a concern for them. So, we've agreed that I'll clear it, dig it over and plant veggies which we can then share. I get more space to cultivate and more veg - they get a tidy garden and fresh veg from their own patch - a win win situation!

I have been thinking a lot about Montessori materials. I really am taken with some of the geography resources but not quite so struck on the prices. I'm in the process of acquiring some corkboard and am going to try my hand at making some of these pin map puzzles.

I'll report back when I've done it but in the meantime you can read the instructions here if you fancy giving it a try yourself.

I've been making felt hearts stuffed with lavender and rose petals. It's ever so therapeutic - the sort of sewing you can do with one eye on the tv, one eye on your chocolate and whilst also having a natter with your other half! I think I may turn them into some sort of garland for the mantle when I have enough. The heat rising from the fire should help disperse the sent of the petals.

Also been admiring this wonderful fabric postcard given to me by a friend. She made it herself. I'd not come across these before and I'm quite taken with it. I'd like to have a try at making them sometime. Just think how lovely it would be to receive one through the post.

Friday, 26 December 2008


I know, I know, I said I wouldn't be back this year. We had so many plans for the next week or two. So many people to spend time with. Time to outwardly acknowledge and thank so many for the support they have given us through what has been a challenging year.

Sadly nana's brother has taken a turn for the worse. Mostly unconscious. Not quite here. Not quite there. It's a strange time. Reminds me very much of the days before my dad's death although the circumstances were very different.

Thankfully I know that the same folks who have supported us and helped us through this year will continue to stand by us through this time. They'll understand why we have cancelled most of our arrangements and will still be there for fun and laughter at a more appropriate time.

In the meanwhile we're all contemplating the bigger picture. You know, those big 'why' and 'when' questions that life sometimes throws at you. Contemplating a life that is precious, a life characterised by outstanding determination, energy, enthusiasm, hard work and charisma.

to add the wait is over. Nana needs to be alone. I'm trying to figure out where I need to be - and am messing on suddenly trying not to think about the big why and when questions.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Happy Christmas

Things feel a bit odd here. Not odd in a bad way - just a different way. The big frenzied shop which I always tend to rush out and do at this sort of time hasn’t happened. I’ve stuck to my ground in that this year our celebrations will be homely, hand crafted, stripped of glitz and very much heart felt.

Sure I’ve wondered now and then if I have enough to fill the stockings, enough satsumas, cloves and cranberries. I don’t know if I have or not. What’s more I don’t really seem to care this year either. Despite all that’s gone on of late I still find myself smiling – rather inanely I guess it must appear to other folks. I feel calm. I feel like I’m living my truth – something I rarely do at this time of year, caught up in commercialism and hype.

When things have started to get too much I’ve tried to do what I always (should) do – get back to nature. Messing in the garden, checking out what’s growing, what needs cutting back and generally clucking around with the hens really revitalises me. The children played in the paddling pool yesterday (in clothes and wellies not swim suits I hasten to add). They dug holes and made puddles. They squished mud between their fingers and formed mud balls. They chased me throwing mud balls till we fell in a laughing heap on the grass.

Lying on the grass looking up at the sky I was struck by it’s beauty. I’m in the right place. It feels good.

I’m sure Christmas will come, right on time as it always does, but this year I’ll welcome it with open and arms and muddy feet as opposed to the usual frazzled wreck who has spent too long tossing and turning trying to figure out whether to do brandy sauce or custard with the xmas pud!

I think this will be my last post for 2008. I’m planning on spending lots of time with family and friends over the next week or two, lots of time just ‘being’ and lots of time getting my head around next years education plans.

Thank you for visiting me. I appreciate your kind comments and lovely emails and am looking forward to a busy, bloggy 2009.

Monday, 22 December 2008

New arrivals

Introducing Merlin (left) and Polly (right), the newest additions to our gang.

They are beautifully fluffy, roughly twenty weeks old and not quite at the point of lay. With the sudden loss of Fanjio and a slight reduction in eggs due to the dark days also, we have found ourselves not able to bake as I am loathe to buy eggs because I don't want to eat an egg which has potentially come from a hen who has not lived well. Perish the thought of no cakes! We called around the local farms which sometimes do battery but they weren't dealing in hens right now - just turkeys, hence we ended up with these two barn beauties from a local farmer.
Polly may well come into lay within a week or two. I'm sure she's older than Merlin as she has more comb and wattle (the red bit on the top of the head and below the beak).

We brought them home when nana was at church yesterday and they had gone to roost by the time she came home. We decided not to tell her and let it be a surprise when she let them out this morning. Polly (the brown Fanjio lookalike) came out first and nana looked like she was about to keel over with shock. Gave us all (including nana once she was over the shock) a good laugh to start the day.

We still aim to rescue ex batts. Hopefully come summer.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Yule Blessings

Brightly burns the Yule log tonight

Magic dances in firelight

Hold my hand and join the song

Raise the Sun King bright and strong

Dark is giving way to light

As brightly burns the Yule log tonight!

(Yule Chant Adapted by Akasha Ap Emrys)

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Quantum chimney decent theory

Forget that - I think I need dynamite behind me right now *grin*. Having a blast. Partying, crafting, cake festing (or that's how it felt earlier today when I was introduced to parsnip cake).

Dashing to take the kids to see yet more twinkly lights before we join friends for dinner and I make the last minute preparation for our family Yule tomorrow. Busy, busy, busy....

Nana's cute crochet candles. You won't burn your fingers on these.

Popcorn and cranberry garlands.

Thank you to everyone for the healing thoughts for nana's brother. He is much more stable right now. The leukemia is still aggressive but the chest infection he is fighting on top of all else seems to be responding to medications. He's still in hospital and we know that all that can be done is being done.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Gingerbread houses, hens and stuff

Before I start on today, here is a picture of one of the fimo candy canes and the candy cane faerie we made yesterday. He is so tiny that he hasn't photographed particularly well and another which we made has come out even more blurred on camera.

Today started with a rather worrying call about nana's brother. We have spent much of the day fearing the worst and nana has been at the hospital a long while, but I'm pleased to say that by late afternoon the signs were a little brighter. Healing thoughts, energy and prayers gratefully received from anyone with any to spare.

I was very upset that nana had to visit alone today. She really could have done with some support, but I awoke rather sniffly today and we agreed that it was probably best not to take my sniffles into a hospital. I'm also supporting a silhouette which makes me look a good six months pregnant. Stress always gives me stomach problems, and goodness have I had stress and chaff to deal with this week! I'm now wondering how I will squeeze something resembling this

into my party frock over the weekend. I may have to resort to wearing a sack after all!

We read about the history of gingerbread houses today - the Brothers Grimm and Hansel and Gretel. We attempted to make our own gingerbread houses but after a wee while I wish we'd just iced gingerbread biscuits instead. We just couldn't get the blinking things to stay together. What's the secret? Super glue in the icing? I was getting rather exasperated and kept opening the back door for some air but whenever I did the pesky Henrietta hen darted in and had a bite out of my peace lily*sigh*. Here's the rascal caught in the act.

Feeling rather disillusioned with the ginger bread houses we decorated fir cones with snow sprinkles and chopped clementine slices for drying. I love the smell of the clementines as they dry.

Unfortunately I was so caught up in fir cones and clementines that I forgot about the hens and they roosted in the trees because they couldn't get into the eglu. Finding Henrietta was easy but we have been unable to find Omlet who is black. I hope she's ok where ever she is. Feeling every bit the irresponsible hen owner and will be horrified if foxy loxy finds her.
We are absolutely reveling in seasonal crafts and social gatherings but I'm starting to be quite mindful of the fact that January is looming and I have promised myself and Hermione that we will be doing a lot more formal stuff come the new year. She's ever so keen and I'm starting to worry in case I don't pull everything together and meet the mark. I never really thought I would be in this position. It's not quite what I envisaged but it's what Hermione wants and I think it's what I would like too - if only I can manage to provide her with all of the learning opportunities and stimulation she's looking for.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Candy Canes

I'm pleased to report the mood has certainly been more mellow here today.

We looked at the history of candy canes. I was quite surprised to learn that while many Christmas traditions have pagan origins, this tradition is steeped in Christian symbolism. According to legend, a candymaker wanted to make a confection to honor Christ's birth. It had to be hard candy to represent the church being built on solid rock. Because Jesus is known as the 'Good Shepherd', it was formed in the shape of a shepherd's staff (and turning it upside down, it was a "J" for Jesus). The three small red stripes represented the scourging Jesus suffered on his way to the cross. The one large red stripe represented the blood Jesus shed as payment for our sins. The white stripes represented the virgin birth and the sinless nature of Christ.

While Craig and Hermione had a jaunt out this morning Miles and I decorated the tree with candy canes while listening to Bob Marley tunes - not very festive I know but it fitted the bill perfectly.

We arranged beads and baubles in tea cups.

We went on to wrap some presents but I soon came to doubt my wisdom of putting a three year old in charge of the sellotape.

This afternoon Hermione and I met up with two other home ed families. We made fimo faeries, including a candy cane faerie from fimo. We also made some fimo candy canes. They are lovely and I'd like to show you them but they're in the oven baking. We chatted whilst sipping hot mulled wine (non alcoholic I hasten to add) and munching chocolates. Bliss - crafts, chocolates, friends and a steaming cup. Just what I needed.
This evening Hermione and I took a stroll around the village to admire the Christmas lights. We don't decorate the outside of our house but I'm pleased other folks do. There's something quite magical about a walk out on a crisp night to see twinkling lights.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

George Orwell

What’s he got to do with anything? You might well ask!

Today, as I sipped tea between sobs, bemoaning the fact that some things really aren’t what they seem, a friend dispensed wise words. ‘Never forget Claire, all pigs were created equal but some are more equal than others.’ How true. How very true.

Thankfully that was just part of the day, part which I’d rather not dwell on – why talk about that when I can talk about all of the good things that have happened *grin*.

We have been doing lots of great things over the past couple of days. In addition to our usual activities Hermione has also played a part in a drama performance at nana’s church. She enjoyed it a lot and is more enthusiastic than ever about being actively involved in the drama group which is starting soon within our home ed community.

We have made the Christmas cake.

We made pomanders and seasonal words from air drying clay.

We read Jack Frost by C E Pike

Look out! Look out!
Jack Frost is about
He s after our fingers and toes;
And all through the night,
The gay little sprite
Is working where nobody knows.
He’ll climb each tree,
So nimble is he,
His silvery powder he’ll shake.
To windows he’ll creep
And while we re asleep
Such wonderful pictures he’ll make.
Across the grass
He’ll merrily pass,
And change all its greenness to white.
Then home he will go
And laugh ho, ho ho!
What fun I have had in the night.

Our order arrived from here. I’m ever so impressed with their range, prices and delivery. I ordered online on Saturday and my parcel arrived late yesterday. Lots of stocking fillers but also a big pack of exercise books. We’ve never done the exercise book thing before but Hermione has asked for them. Does this mean I’ve climbed a notch in the world of formal education? Seems ever so serious *grin*.

I have organized two gifts for close family without paying a penny and without stepping out of the door. What’s even better is that I think the gifts far surpass anything I could have bought if I tried. I’m very excited and look forward to telling you more about it after Christmas.

I now have a not so little black dress ready for the functions I’m attending with Craig this Christmas. I also have high strappy shoes and a matching handbag for the first time since I became a mummy. What do you think of the dress? That's not me modelling it by the way!

I’m worried about my arms – bingo wings and all that you know. A friend who is more stylish than I can ever hope to be came round today to give me some fashion tips and generously has offered to let me borrow a very flattering shawl come shrug come scarf garment.

We went to visit new friends in our village (big wave to Jenny and Peter if you’re reading this). We had a lovely time chatting and admiring their wonderful creative textiles and wildlife photography – all whilst munching on delicious home made shortbread. We are going back soon and Hermione is going to learn how to make the shortbread – which I’m delighted about because it tasted so much better than any I ever manage to produce!
I'm doing a bit of brisk trading with my crochet right now which is good. Two parcels to post tomorrow. Lots of education planning going on in my head. Also lots of organising in terms of doing things for the wider home ed community. Some really good stuff. I'm meeting with some people from a college in January to talk about funding and resources for home ed culture and music sessions. I used to try to be proactive in organising things before I had Miles but haven't done as much in a while. Time to start over I think and give what I can - or at least to the extent that time and energy permits!
All in all it’s not an easy time right now, but as I’m sure I have said before, it’s at times like this that I feel so blessed by the support of my friends. I’ve so much more to sing about than cry about and that is what I must remember. As another wise friend once told me it's only when you trip and stumble that you realise just how strong the arms that hold you are.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Getting there - slowly

Things could be better. Nana still isn't feeling her normal self - no doubt in part due to worry of her brother being in hospital in the very advanced stages of leukemia.

Onwards and upwards though. There is so much great stuff going on too - which hopefully I'll be back to blog about tomorrow - and the house is starting to look quite festive.

Even Craig on his sax and a friend on her accordion practising carols didn't raise a smile tonight. Feeling so sad.
Tomorrow's another day though - thankfully.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

RIP Fanjio

Passed away during the night.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Not quite as planned

Today was to be one of the highlights in our festivities - Hermione playing Twinkle Twinkle on her clarinet at the Music Academy Christmas Concert and dressing the trees this afternoon.

Unfortunately the day started with a poorly Fanjio. The other week Henrietta was looking peaky for a few days and now Fanjio. I don't think they like it when we have a few days of heavy rain and wind. So, before we set off for the concert we had to get Fanjio into the hospital hutch with warm mash. Not the best start to the day. Here is Fanjio (brown) with Omlet (black) a couple of weeks ago.

When we arrived home we found nana in bed. She's also under the weather. She thinks she's just over done things this week (it's been a social whirl) and will be fine tomorrow. I hope so. I feel ever so worried just like when the kids are unwell. She's sleeping but I want to keep going in and checking on her.
Hermione played ever so well in the concert and Miles enjoyed it too. The conductor changed the playing order around slightly so that Hermione played her tune half way through as opposed to right at the end as originally listed. That was great as we were all able to enjoy it and leave before Miles had too much. We were there for an hour and a half and enjoyed some great music.
We have also made a start on the decorations but Hermione felt it just wasn't the same without her 'best mate' nana so we have left some to do tomorrow.
While we were wrestling the real tree into the hall a neighbour knocked with this gingerbread house for the children. Isn't it fab? I worried when we moved to a village that it may take a long time to fit in but our neighbours have been wonderful. Ever so kind.

I wonder if we manage to replicate anything like this with the gingerbread house kits we have bought from Ikea? I doubt it somehow. For anyone who fancies having a go at this but doesn't want to start from scratch the gingerbread kit is only £1.99 at Ikea - a lot cheaper that Tescos and M&S.

Friday, 12 December 2008


Prickly fir cones drying in the hearth.

Prickly holly being made into decorations.

Prickly mood as we try to sort out the under stairs cupboard where I store lots of food and all of the craft stuff, before the tree goes into the hall and totally blocks off the doorway tomorrow *grin*. Craig is busy there now - I hope - while I attend to important matters, such as blogging and online shopping.

Friends came to visit today and brought us some wonderful candles which they had made themselves. They're beautiful. I was going to photograph them to show you but my camera battery is flat. Must get it on charge. We've a busy weekend ahead.

This evening we read the Fir Tree by Hans Christian Andersen. Hermione is now wondering if we can keep our tree for the whole year so that it doesn't feel sad and discarded like the one in the story. Talk of keeping it and just changing the decor to fit in with the seasons. seemed like a good idea before I read it but perhaps we should have stuck with Roald Dahl!

Wishes for Santa have been put up the chimney. Last year Hermione read in What Katy Did about children putting wishes up the chimney and Santa 'snatching' them away. We soon figured that providing we open the front door wide and she tears her wish list into small pieces, the updraught created in the chimney does seem to almost 'snatch' the paper from your hand when you put it by the top of the fire. Good fun (although must be very closely supervised of course) and adds a bit of that magic that I was moaning of the lack of yesterday.

On a total tangent here, did you know that wheat bags should not be used in bed? I was looking up instructions for filling them as I planned on making Hermione and Miles one each for Yule but I've changed my mind after reading this. Had enough spontaneously combusting in our life!

Edited to add that I just went in to tell nana what I had found out about wheat bags and we had one of those bizarre conversation.

Me - Did you know wheat bags can spontaneously combust, particularly if you use them in bed?

Nana - I didn't know that but I did know they are dangerous. They're so dangerous that Jenny (nana's friend in her 80's) had to stop making them for church fundraising after a lady in her nineties bought one, didn't listen to the instructions properly, put it the microwave for twenty minutes during which time it exploded and set the microwave on fire.

Me - Goodness, was the lady ok?

Nana - She's dead now, but the wheat bag wasn't implicated.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Ho ho ho

Miles was decidedly indifferent. Personally I thought Santa looked rather good this year but was a little bemused by the cheese counter style ticket machine showing your turn number, the waiting area with little tykes kitchen and computer games - oh and then there was Santa's helper in full costume in McDonalds.
I remember the days when I was small and I used to go to the local department store to see Santa. We used to board some sort of sleigh or craft (a very large cardboard affair I suspect) which was wonderfully decorated, made strange noises and 'flew' to another place to see Santa - exit cardboard box from other end and there you go - a magical journal and a mystical wonderland.
Where's the magic gone to? I know I know, in many respects we shouldn't tell our children pork pies - but then what of those magical moments? Bring it back I say.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008


Spirals are one of my favourite naturally forming shapes or signs. The whole extremes of the inner and outer, yet the whole connectedness too. I like that.

I know very little about Steiner Waldorf stuff but we often go to a building used by a Steiner Waldorf Kindergarten and I've noticed things about their advent spiral. Below is a pretty one I found online. I'm not sure of the whole Steiner significance of the advent spiral but I think it's a very fitting symbol for this time of year as folks reach out and also delve within.

I feel like I'm spiralling right now. Not spiralling out of control I'm pleased to say. More a case of spiralling in and out of the close hub of family and home - to friends both new and old - to colleagues and business associates (people who Craig works with who we have come to know as a couple) - to neighbours and more. A season of extremes. Plans for small intimate times with nearest and dearest but also time to reach out and be all embracing. Crafting and baking with the children - music and merriment with friends. Incidentally has anyone ever made wassail? I've plans for that later this month.

Although life is extremely busy right now I feel that we are doing a lot more of what we want to and a lot less of what we don't. That a good thing. A very good thing. Life's too short for it to be any other way. I think our advent calender/planner has helped. While we have gotten behind on some activities, (we have the ingredients but haven't yet baked our fruit cake) most things have gone to plan.

Some of the highlights have been gathering greenery and fir cones in the woods. Celebrating the abundance of mother nature. Marvelling at her strength. Remembering that we are strong and that we can carry on even when the wind tries to blow us away.

Taking food for cats and dogs to our local rescue shelter. The staff at the shelter were absolutely fabulous with the children and told them the stories of how many have come to be in the shelter. By the end of the visit even Miles at age three has a grasp of how many animals come to be there. Why can't so many adults? Those places will be full till the rafters come January no doubt.

Harvesting our willow. I'm amazed at how quickly it has grown. We have lots for crafting and have made a start on a big wreath for above the mantle.

Just wanted to say thanks again to all who have responded to Hermione's survey. We are making lots of progress on the writing front. Rather oddly it seems that as many families are winding down for the festive season Hermione seems to be really cranking things up on the educational activity ('work' doesn't sound quite right) front. Oddly enough though I seem to be doing the same. I've been talking to lots of people this week about setting up new home ed activities at a home ed building resource nearby. Lots of interest and enthusiasm. I'm feeling upbeat and positive. More on that another day, I think dinner is about to burst into flames!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Monday, 8 December 2008

The Giraffe Test

To all you highly educated ones out there - just a little something to keep the grey matter from going stagnant

How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator? Stop and think about it and decide on your answer before you scroll down.

The correct answer is: Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe, and close the door. This question tests whether you tend to do simple things in an overly complicated way.

2 How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?

Did you say, Open the refrigerator, put in the elephant, and close the refrigerator?

Wrong Answer.

Correct Answer: Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe, put in the elephant and close the door. This tests your ability to think through the repercussions of your previous actions.

3. The Lion King is hosting an animal conference. All the animals attend ... except one. Which animal does not attend?

Correct Answer : The Elephant. The elephant is in the refrigerator. You just put him in there. This tests your memory.

Okay, even if you did not answer the first three questions correctly, you still have one more chance to show your true abilities.

4. There is a river you must cross but it is used by crocodiles, and you do not have a boat. How do you manage it?

Correct answer? You jump into the river and swim across. Have you not been listening? All the crocodiles are attending the Animal Meeting. This tests whether you learn quickly from your mistakes.

According to Anderson Consulting Worldwide, around 90% of theProfessionals they tested got all questions wrong, but many preschoolers got several correct answers. Anderson Consulting says this conclusively disproves the theory that most professionals have the brains of a four-year-old.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Great trading

I had a fabulous time at our Durham Exchange gathering on Friday night. Durham Exchange is a timebank where members can trade goods and services for a community currency. You can find our more about timebanks generally here – the site also tells you where your nearest one is. You can find out more about the local one here in Durham by emailing me.

I went along with a box of woollen jewellery and a chocolate cake to share. I spent a very pleasant couple of hours chatting with folks there, enjoying delicious food they had bought and I left with the following.

Half a box of woollen jewellery. I traded a few pieces and took instructions for two specially commissioned pieces. Still lots left in my little stock collection. I only thought on to take my jewellery and now wish I’d remembered to take some cakes. Ho hum, I’ll save those for next time.

A greenhouse. I have been checking out polytunnels for a while but have concerns about the wisdom of that plan seeing as we live on the top of a very windy hill surrounded by trees. Even assuming the thing didn’t become airborne I suspect I’d be regularly repairing the cover. When a member of the Exchange said he had a greenhouse to trade it felt like Christmas had come early. I haven’t seen it yet but I’m ever so excited. Apparently it’s in fabulous condition with shelving and stuff too.

A handmade pottery plate which looks absolutely fabulous on my kitchen table. The lady who made this is a member of the Exchange. She is extremely talented. She is only partially sighted and I suspect that may account for the exquisite details of texture. She moulded the plate on a rhubarb leaf from her neighbours garden. I love it. It’s so full of character and expression.

A handmade jug made by the lady who made the plate. Like the plate it has lots of wonderful little details including a little butterfly at the base of the handle. I tried to photograph it but it didn’t come out clearly. I feel really blessed to have met this wonderfully talented lady and have a couple of pieces of her work to call my own – and it didn’t cost me a penny of ‘real’ money, just some community currency.

A handmade organic bathbomb also made by a member of the Exchange. Hermione has her eye on this.

A children’s dictionary. I think Hermione is ready to start figuring out how to use one.

Some excellent remote controlled Mega Blocks vehicles which are going to Santa for Miles *grin*

Not bad eh for a couple of hours spent chatting with friends and tucking into a lovely shared supper?

Some of the other things which were on offer were flute lessons, lifts, three course meal cooked and delivered to your home, massage and more. Very tempting.