Monday, 27 July 2009


We had our first podding experience at the weekend and it certainly won't be our last!

We had planned for a long while to go to a festival with friends this weekend but I had a change of heart at the eleventh hour. Instead we were drawn to a place which turned out to be idyllic and just what I needed.

This is where we slept -a pod. There is no electricity, furniture or heating inside. However it was extremely warm and cosy since it is double shelled and insulated with sheep's wool. It was also carpeted. By the time we filled it with airbeds, duvets and pillows it was like a heavenly cocoon.

We visited this barn dating back to the seventeenth century, and drank chilled pear cider there near a roaring log fire while the children played happily.

We climbed to the top of this magnificent waterfall. I forgot my camera so this picture isn't mine. With recent heavy rains it was much more dramatic than this. Standing close by we were soaked by the spray.

We rambled further down river and splashed in shallow pools till our toes tingled and our rolled up trouser legs were soggy.

It's odd how things happen. I had looked forward to doing one thing for a long time but at the last minute felt compelled to do something different. I'm glad I did. Sometimes you have to trust and follow your feelings I think. It was a very special time which will stay in my mind for a long while to come. I felt really connected with all that is important to me. I found a stillness that has been lacking of late.

If you want to know more about our secret hide away then email and I'll tell you *grin*. Returning messages from the answering machine last night we have already promised to go back with friends. It was a real find.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Lumps, bumps and fluffy flip flops

Oh, what a week! Rain, rain and even more rain!

Despite the rain we've been quite busy. We've spent time with friends, time messing and also learning lots.

Hermione has been doing lots of work on the visual representation of data (was known as graphs and charts when I was at school), she's writing a short play, and despite having said she was going to leave the Tudors and move on to a different period she has developed a new interest in the Spanish Armada this week.

I have just finished pre reading this book for her. I like to check there's nothing too gory before she gets her hands on them. That's the thing with history - it can be gruesome, and she is a very sensitive soul. This one isn't gruesome though, it's great and I'm looking forward to learning more about the Romans when we come to study them together.

We visited Durham Cathedral with a small group of other home educators yesterday. I had organised the visit and there was lots of interest - seventeen or eighteen children. On the day unfortunately there was only seven, in part due to an outbreak of swine flu. Never mind, it went well. It went exceptionally well to be honest.

I decided to arrange a visit when Hermione asked me, not for the first time, about this statue below. I knew it was something to do with either St Cuthbert or St Bede but I wasn't entirely certain *blush*. After an entirely unsatisfactory search of the Internet I decided the best thing to do would be to go to the Cathedral and have the education people explain to us.

The education officer who spent the day with us was amazing. I've encountered lots of education officers at various venues now but I think she comes top of my list without a doubt. We all learned so much and were given access to areas of the Cathedral which are not open access, or at least not without paying.

I love the atmosphere of the Cathedral. I wouldn't say it's calming. To the contrary it's quite busy being one of the top tourist attractions in England. It just sort of inspires me to grow in mind and spirit if that makes any sense.

We stayed home today. We have a busy weekend planned and I'm not feeling too great. I'm full of lethargy and lumps and bumps in places where they don't belong. I'm not even going to think about the dreaded swine flu though. No, no I refuse to go there. If nothing else I couldn't cope with Craig's numerous pork scratching jokes. Instead I've distracted myself with thoughts of fluffy flip flops. Did you know such a thing exists? I didn't till today and now I think I could be smitten.

While I mused on fluffy flip flops the children decided to have a Christmas party - yes, a Christmas party! They packed a picnic basket and trundled off to the spare bedroom. Soon the sounds of The Wiggles Christmas CD came blasting out and I went up to find them wiggling in tune. Hermione picked up the CD cover and looking at the front said, 'goodness, I didn't know Dad's mate Jase and Simon Cowell are in the Wiggles'. Aww bless, the age of innocence!
I'm off to make my Ovaltine and crash out. Nu nite.
Edited to add, over an hour later, that the M&S summer sale has started early on line and includes, amongst other things, age spot reduction cream and those all encompassing wonder pants that I've seen on Gok Wans show. Way hey, they must have known I'd be calling by *grin*.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Close to the edge

"I really like seeing people dance as close to the edge as possible. And trip a little bit, fall, and grab themselves. Sometimes they fall off, and that's just the way it is. At least I know they're human. We're living in an age where everything is so packaged and canned." -Les Claypool

Here, here.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Seriously excited!!!!

I think I have persuaded Craig to go camping again! I thought it would never happen after the tornado and storm.

Hopefully there'll be less of this next time round - although Miles did love playing in the little pools and river that formed around the edge of the gazebo.

You know I told you about the tornado and the storm? Well, after that, when we were gone, the army came and evacuated the camp site because they had found a bomb on the adjoining beach. Yes, a real bomb which they detonated.

To think the government queries whether our home educated children get out into the real world and have diverse experiences.... tornados, storms and bombs all in a few days 'holiday'.. I think I'd say so.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009


Some of the many things that made me smile today.
The first of the sweet peas from the garden.
Seed pods. Big bulbous poppy heads from the vegetable patch.
These ones in particular had spectacular flower heads. Helped address the problem I had last year of not enough pollinating insects at my veg patch. They still are beautiful, adorning my coffee table, a reminder that they'll come again.
Mini man at work with hammer and nails.
A flower made from leaves, presented to me by Hermione and now taking centre stage on our summer mantle.
Also, knowing that when I'm really tired and have to cancel arrangements, (as I've had to tonight), friends will understand while I chill and rest my weary bones.
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Sunday, 12 July 2009

Internal combat, fruity puffs, Miners Gala etc

I'm ever so tired. Doing internal combat with all the usual issues faced by most of us parents I guess. Are the children following their interests and learning along the way? Are they having a good balance of lively fun and restful relaxation? Am I balancing jobs which have to be done with family time? Am I spending enough time nurturing myself to enable me to nurture my children really well?

When I've not been pondering on equilibrium we have visited friends, been to the library to help fulfill Hermione's huge thirst for reading material right now and also cleared a large area of the veg patch for replanting after the first big flush of crops stopped cropping.

We've been fruit picking. The raspberries in particular were very rich pickings - easy and juicy.

We made apple and blackcurrant puffs. Delish.

We bopped along to the tune when the local colliery band played in our village en route to Durham Miners Gala.

We picked veggies from a friends garden. I'm ever so envious of her carrots. Despite having built them a special bed I'm having little success with them.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Just bouncing about

A friend contacted us last night to say that she had just arranged to hire a bouncy castle for today and was wondering if we would like to go round to bounce and hang out. We went along and had a fabulous time. It was the first time Miles had been on a bouncy case and it certainly got the thumbs up.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

A better use of public money?

Instead of spending money on repeated home ed reviews and consultations, perhaps the government could channel more money into causes like this below. Makes total sense to me - it's time to stop home ed bashing and and start addressing the real issues. It's ridiculous to think that in the face of a few very high profile child abuse cases, the government responds with a knee jerk reaction to a minority group, (home educators), while organisations who aim to tackle child abuse at a grass roots level go under funded. Very sad state of affairs.

The text of the petition is as follows:

We, the undersigned, call on the UK Government and devolved administrations in Wales and Northern Ireland to see domestic violence from a child's point of view.

Witnessing domestic violence causes children serious emotional harm, and in homes where there is domestic violence, children may also be physically and sexually abused themselves. We want to see:

• services for all children and families affected, to keep them safe and supported, and to help them overcome the effects of violence
• improved training for professionals so that they identify children and young people caught up in violence
• children learn in schools about domestic violence and how to stay safe

Please consider popping along here and giving your support.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009


At camp we had a geodome which belongs to a local home edding family. It was a focal point for the children by day and a meeting area for adults in the evening.

Craig stands back and fears the worst.

Oh no, it's not right.

Yep, we'll take it all down and start over.

Voila! A bit more tweaking with the covering and it'll be done!

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Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Storm Chaser / Storm Chased ?????

I'm still feeling wet and soggy but couldn't help but call in to say that I think one of my life long ambitions has just been dashed.

I'm fascinated by 'extreme' weather and would happily spend hours on end watching documentaries about it. I've often thought how amazing it would be to be a storm chaser and get up really close.

Well, on Saturday morning we set out on our regional home ed camp, staying with lots of friends on a remote beach side campsite. The weather was glorious so although I took all eventuality clothing for the children I saved space in the boot and packed just sandals and summer stuff for me.

On Sunday there was a tornado, (no joking here guys - the real thing, full on swirly bit and all), which thankfully swept past us at a worrying distance but didn't touch down on land.

The tornado was followed by rain, more rain, the occasional dry but grey patch, more rain, very short dry spell, more rain and even more rain - you get the picture I guess!

This morning I was awoken before five with torrential rain, thunder and an alarmingly volatile tent. You may not want to imagine this as what followed was not a pretty site. Having quickly bundled the children into the car for safety sake Craig and I spent over two hours in hideous storm conditions trying to make safe, deciding we'd had enough and taking down the tent, gazebo and packing away. I was in my nightie, very wet and frazzled, wishing that I wore knickers for bed as trying to hang onto blustery groundsheets and a blustery nightie in what felt like a force ten gale with lashing rain was not easy.

I'm ever so tired and despite having had a bath still feel really crusty in that camping sort of way. I think I need another soak and an early night in a bed, in a room with walls and windows with a toilet just across the landing. Many families are still there and hoping the weather improves but for me it was starting to feel more like a challenge than a holiday. It was time for us to come home. We had fun but I don't think it would have been right to hold out till Friday when we had booked till. Craig had to come home today in any event for work and I was going to be staying on with the children.

I'm scrapping my ideas of storm chasing and may even start looking at camper vans. Had Craig not been there this morning, (and he isn't always when we go camping), I would have been seriously scared because I don't think I would have had the physical strength to hang on to the heavy steel framed gazebo and stop it smashing into the tent and possibly hurting someone.

Back with photos in a day or two when I've dried out.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

**Sigh** (loudly)

This evening Hermione and I spent a wonderful two hours in a restaurant in town. We ate delicious food and indulged in lots of girly chat. We laughed, chuckled and shared the squishiest, caramel, chocolate cake concoction ever!

On the table next to us were a man, a woman and a girl of about six years old. During the whole time we were there they did not speak to her once other than to ask her what food she wanted. They were engrossed in their own conversation and she was left to play on one of those gadget type things - could be a DS but I don't know, I'm not entirely sure what one looks like.

As the night wore on the little girl became tired and cranky. I'm not at all surprised she got cranky. It can't have been much fun sitting there, to all intents and purposes alone. Did they respond by talking to her or finishing their meal and drinks and getting off? No, the mother produced a dummy from her spangly handbag and she then sucked on that whilst playing with her electronic companion.

Grrrrr, I'm off to squeeze a bean bag, kick the proverbial cat and all that. Some people just make me so mad...