Wednesday, 30 June 2010

All's quiet on the home front..

We're stuck at home. Friends have called by and we've only been home a couple of days but it's already beginning to grate. It's just how it is don't you find - when you can't do something you really want to do it all the more?

I had an appointment with my neurosurgeon earlier this week. All is *essentially* well with my MRI results. Why on earth do they say things like that? Why can't they just say things are well or not well? I think the message he was trying to convey was not to worry, nothing scary has shown up - BUT (I hate buts) he would like me to be seen by a further neurosurgeon within the next two weeks for a further opinion. Arrghhhh. I'm too busy for this kind of malarkey!

In addition to the symptoms which have resulted in my meeting with the neurosurgeon I have now developed a bit of a freaky eye condition. This just started yesterday but the white of my eye has become swollen in part and is very painful. Apparently it's related to my other symptoms. I'm taking meds and hope it will go away real soon. My vision isn't up to driving - hence the sudden urge to go out driving about everywhere. I'm really hopeful this is a very short term thing.

So, stuck at home we have finished the work we were doing on the Irish Potato Famine. We have finished reading The Hunger which you can view along with other Potato Famine books here. I think we may get the Michael Morpurgo one to look at some time - we like Michael. We looked briefly at Sinead O'Connor's song about the Famine too. I say 'briefly' as I want to check out some of the things she states in her song before discussing it in detail. It is interesting to think that it is possibly still impacting upon the Irish today in terms of mental illness, alcoholism, drug use etc.

Moving on, we're now looking at transportation to Australia. Miles as ever is all ears and picks up on bits and pieces. He was wondering earlier if we could be transported if we don't buy a parking ticket where there are pay metres.

We've been doing more work about how weather systems form in the atmosphere and clouds in particular. We're going to do more detailed stuff on rain soon - to include some acid rain experiments, (thanks to a gift of equipment from a fellow home edder).

I was doing some stuff with Miles about seasons and was wondering how to involve Hermione. We decided she would research seasonal migrations, on land, sea and air. She found some great Youtube clips but this one has to be my favourite. Stick with it - the good guy wins in the end.

Right, I'm going to quit moaning and go do something more constructive. Watch out for the return of my wonderful daughter and husband who are out meeting the crew of Space Shuttle Atlantis perhaps? I so wish I could have joined them but I've had fun here with Miles and chapter upon chapter of Enid Blyton's Wishing Chair - probably more on my level than talk of space exploration anyway *grin*.

Monday, 28 June 2010

St John's Festival

Yet more fun in the sun with friends. Music, laughter, feasting and joy. We are truly blessed.

Making clay suns.

Making wind catchers from willow and crepe paper.

A beautiful puppet show about a farmer who ran off with the fairies.

Craig jump over the fire
All on a Mid Summer's day
Craig jump over the fire,
Burn all your troubles away.

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Sunday, 27 June 2010


A little fairy found posing on my bed this morning.
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Saturday, 26 June 2010

Cakes, crafts and prickly guests

With Hermione and Nana out with their quilting chums Miles and I set about making a boat load of muffins. We used our, 'just chuck it all together, never fails, vegan chocolate cake recipe'. We now have almost four dozen muffins to share with friends tomorrow - save for the one we gave to the postman, one for the man who delivers the hen corn and one for said delivery man to take home for his wife!

Just chuck it all together, never fails, vegan chocolate cake recipe.

125g creamed coconut
50g coco powder
650ml boiling water
400g SR flour
1tbspn baking powder
pinch salt
275g light muscavado sugar (again, I use what I have so usually a mix of dark and demerera)
200ml ground nut oil. I use sunflower oil, it is cheaper and still works fine. If I know they will be eaten that day I only add 100ml of oil. If it's to keep for a day or two add the full quota of oil.

Pre heat oven to 180 degrees.
Dissolve the creamed coconut in boiled water, allow to cool.
( I dissolve it in 1/2 boiling then add 1/2 cold.... but I am impatient!)
Mix all dry ingredients in a big bowl.
Add oil to coconut water mix (now cool)
Add the liquid to the dry and mix well. It a makes a totally liquid batter, but trust me it works. Divide between 2 tins and cook aprox 1hr. or until skewer comes out clean.
Alternatively put in muffin cases and bake for ten minutes or so.

Hermione arrived home having decorated a t shirt with felt cut outs and beads.

In addition to the t shirt she also made a tic tac toe game with apples and pears. She's made a great job of the board which she has patched on one side, quilted and felt backed.

The board folds and ties with a ribbon when not in use.

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Later we grabbed Hermione's body board and headed for the coast. Goodness, the sea breeze was biting. It was warm but I felt wind whipped. Craig played in the sea with the children while I sat on the sand wrapped in a towel and sporting large shades. According to Craig (who is not always to be believed on these matters) I was looking distinctly Bedouin!

Having noticed a dog roaming free on the beach I decided to speak to a life guard about it. I don't think dogs should be roaming free on beaches where children are playing - and particularly not beaches with huge notices up saying 'no dogs allowed'. I knocked on the RNLI hut door. No reply. I knocked again. No reply. I knew there was someone in there so I tried the door only to find a man, probably early twenties, standing in what seemed to be a red satin posing pouch! Well I never! I though Bay Watch had come to the north east! I explained the situation after which he thanked me for letting him know and assured me he would deal with the situation as soon as he had finished getting changed and had some clothes on. Oh dear, I felt like a bit of a perv and wished I'd not tried the door. However, for those of you who live up here and would like to know where said lifeguard in shiny red posing pouch hangs out, I may just tell you if you ask me nicely *grin*.

Whoops, almost forgot to mention, look who we spotted snuffling and ambling along side the hen house.

I'm sure hedgehogs aren't supposed to be out during the day.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Beamish - the farm

We visited Beamish earlier this week. We had a wonderful time. Like at many places now, you pay a rather hefty price for a day visit, but then you can go back as often as you wish within a year. This really takes the pressure off - it can be quite a marathon to try to see everything in one day.

Last time we visited we concentrated on the colliery village and the mine in particular. This time we visited the farm. The farm is an original restoration, not dismantled and transported there form another part of the region - it's been in this spot all along. Apparently it was featured in a recent television series (which I didn't watch) about a Victorian farm.

A servant sweeping the lane.


Taking turn to 'poss' the clothes in the scullery.


Sitting by the range we were joined by a member of staff in period costume. She chatted to us for ages - we must have been there about forty five minutes. She showed the children how they used the range, the griddle, the irons and more. She explained how they only made bread once a week and showed us where they hung the emergency 'oatcakes'(nothing like Nairns fine milled)to dry. She also showed us where the ash was stored for the dry toilet. Miles was very interested in the dry toilet and the night soil man. That's inspired lots of conversations around here.


A well stocked larder. Miles was initially confused as to whether the things hanging up were still alive or not. Oh, the age of innocence! Earlier in the week Hermione was watching a National Geographic programme in which bears were being hunted for their furs. Miles was really concerned because he thought they would be 'very chilly' once their fur was taken away. I didn't have the heart to explain. Some harsh realities can wait.

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Thursday, 24 June 2010

First glut of the year

It's well gone 10.00pm and I've just come in from my veg patch. It's such a novelty to be able to work outside till that sort of time. I've still got the back doors open and am enjoying the breeze.

Pottering on my patch I've been pondering the path problem - as I do every year. I have been thinking back to a garden we encountered in the Lake District and how much I liked the paths and little willow fences. I've looked back and found the picture I took of it. I think I might start harvesting willow from the top of my dome to try this.


Small hands helping to shell the bulk of our broad bean crop.


Slightly larger hands stripping tough stalks from curly kale and washing it.

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The mention of curly kale is raising a groan around here at the minute. We've had kale salad, kale curry and kale flan the last three nights. I suspect it could be kale again tomorrow night too. Kale soup? Kale chili? Suggestions greatly received.

We're also eating broccoli, alpine strawberries, mangetout, spinach, nasturtiums , salad leaves, chard and onions from the patch right now. I do so love pottering about out there. Cheap food and cheap relaxation. I need to speak to my neurosurgeon next week about what specifically I need to avoid. With any luck he'll say to pass on the mop and dishes - stick to the hoe and trowel!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Colours of the World

I've been Festival Shopping again! I feel entirely justified because they have a great sale on - 60 % off. Get yourself along there.


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As well as the coloured clay we also got some skin toned crayons, plus other odds and ends. We've had some great bits from here over the last couple of years. They keep lots of things that aren't readily available on the high street.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Mid summer's day

Mid summers day,
The fairies come,
They sing and smile,
With everyone...

(to the tune of Last of the Summer Wine)

Summer has well and truly arrived. Craig, monopolising the comfy shaded chair. I love it when the gazebo goes up for the summer. I encourage the children to eat meals out there (we all join them of course) and it saves so much time on not having to vacuum the floor!


Fairy houses, lovingly created by both Hermione and Miles. The fairies did indeed pass by our garden on mid summers day and left a couple of little gifts - bubbles to blow, a Benjamin Zephaniah book for Hermione, (one her favourite poets), and Topsy and Tim have Itchy Heads for Miles. Thankfully we have never had an itchy head issue here but I want to be prepared in case it does ever happen.


Summer food.


Yet more summer food.

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I hope you are having fun in the sun too.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Ups and downs on the Festival scene

We had a great time at a local Eco Fest today. You know, I lived in my last home for about ten years and whenever we walked out we never saw anyone we knew. Our locality was really busy but no one ever spoke to each other. We've lived in this area for just coming up to four years and whenever we go out and about we bump into people we know. Today was no exception. We turned up to the Eco Fest today not expecting to see anyone in particular but bumped into home ed folk, Steiner group folk, community group folks and more. I love having that community feel - it makes me warm and fuzzy to know that so often there's a kind face and warm hug just around the corner.

Hermione waited patiently while a scout leader demonstrated the art of alfresco pancake making. Apparently his pancakes were good but not as good as mine *grin*.


Miles learned how to make a fire with a striker. He managed with minimal help. Now wondering if that is a good skill to teach a four year old. Ho hum, too late to rethink....


There was fabulous live music throughout the day - from African rhythm to modern vocalists to folksy and more.


Children's archery appears to be popular on the festival scene this year.

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There were lots of interesting eco stalls, eco balloon releases, story telling, delish lunches (local cheese, bread, salad and chutney) for a small donation of £1 - £2 per plateful, swap shop and more.

Feeling all revved up about summer festivals I decided to have a look and check for more details about one of our favourite festivals, a woodland festival near Deepdale. Sadly it's been cancelled this year. I'm disappointed.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Buzzing bees

Bees made from tiny cones, yellow felting wool and greaseproof paper, buzzing around the aloe vera.


One of many beautiful cards I received this week. A friend made this one.


The first of our cucumber harvest didn't hang around long!

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Wednesday, 16 June 2010

My Little Red Book

Lying in bed, wishing the pain would go, and actually feeling quite relieved to be seeing a neurosurgeon tomorrow, I opened the parcel.

I'm not entirely certain it's what I expected but it's certainly given me much food for thought. Flicking through the pages of My Little Red Book and Menarche - a Journey into Womanhood I pondered how well equipped I am to nurture and support Hermione on her passage to womanhood.

I am so keen to avoid the whole 'curse' business. I don't want to portray it as a passage into monthly misery. At the same time I'm not sure how comfortable either Hermione or I would be with the almost public fanfare advocated by some. I'm glad I've started pondering this one very early. It could take me years to figure out how best to walk alongside her on this path.

Oh and incidentally, I have heard back from the Primary Care Trust. Osteopathy on the NHS in this region is a definite no-no unless my GP can convince the Trust that I am a 'very exceptional case'. Hmmm. I'm in pain and I'm seriously naffed off at not being able to get the treatment I feel would help - but does that make me a 'very exceptional case'? I guess most people who are in pain would feel an overwhelming need for relief too. Not certain where to go with this now.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Footless shoes

One of our home ed friends is making footless shoes to sell and raise money for a good cause. What do you think? I love them, but looking at the picture I just can't believe how tree trunk like my leg is!


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Saturday, 12 June 2010

The Regatta

We decided to pass on the regatta boat races today. We feared parking could be a pain, and in any event we spend lots of time by the river and often see the boats racing.

We waited till late (when most were seemingly at home watching the World Cup) and went down to the river banks to see some of the carnival acts. What fun we had! This was the first time we had gone down to the regatta on an evening and were impressed by the family friendly atmosphere.

There were bands playing very funky music from boats sailing up and down the river. Cool!


There was a comedian dressed as a nun, riding a mini grand piano, mounted on a mirrored mobility scooter. He was seriously funny but in a 'you really had to be there' way.


A gymnast dangled from a huge helium balloon and performed the most breath taking aerial gymnastics.


She swooped down and touched the hands of children reaching up to feel her.

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A grand firework finale. Yay!! I love free family festivals in the great outdoors. I know I have been well nibbled by midges and may well look rather blotchy and angry come morning, but it was worth it.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Wrapping paper, osteopathy on the NHS and discussions.

I feel rather worn right now. Gently worn, but worn all the same. I hate having 'campaigns' in my own little world. I find it very draining but find it compulsive all the same. I'm currently trying to convince our Primary Care Trust that it would be to every ones benefit were I to be offered osteopathy instead of a consultation with a neurosurgeon and an MRI scan. I don't want an MRI scan! Now, will anyone in the Primary Care Trust listen? I'm hoping so but I'm not hugely optimistic.

On a lighter note, Hermione has been making daisy chains from buttercups.


I've been admiring our blossoming broom.


Miles has been busy making wrapping paper - which I hope to discover wrapped around a couple of meditation Cd's within the next few days.


Better than the stuff you buy in many card shops!

*Note to self - take off brand new white t shirt before allowing Miles to splat paint in future. It will never be white again.

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I've been invited to join in a discussion group. The topics for the next three discussions are, 'Being a Mother', 'Celebrating Festivals at Home' and 'Rhythm in Family Life'. I really do hope that I manage to make it to at least one or two of the discussions. I would dearly love to go but they are to take place on a day of the week which is already very much over committed and hectic. Hey ho, I'd rather be hung for a sheep that a lamb - I'm sure at a push I will manage to make time.