Saturday, 31 March 2012

Language of Flowers

It may just be that my emotions are running incredibly close to the surface right now, but this book, The Language of Flowers has made me cry on more than one occasion this last week.

It's a thought provoking read and I suspect my views of flowers will be altered by Victoria's dictionary from hereon.

I think, if Victoria were to make a bouquet for me right now it would have to have a fair few flowers in; could be looking to something a bit bigger that a standard bouquet! I'd hope to find Passiflora (faith), Sweetpea (delicate pleasures), Baby's Breath (ever lasting love) and Angelica (inspiration) in there.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Devaluation of qualifications

There has been much press coverage within recent months about the government move towards devaluation of vocational qualifications.

I agree that it is wrong to devalue vocational qualifications. Not everyone is academic and the world would be a sorry place if we were. For what it's worth I have had no difficulty in finding people to deal with medical, legal and financial issues in life, however, whenever I have needed a tradesman I have been sorely disappointed.

One of our windows suffered storm damage some months ago and the insurance company have requested quotes for the repairs. To date two firms have failed to show when they were supposed to come to look at the job, the third showed up and assured me the estimate would be with me in a few days, yet here I am still waiting. It may be a regional thing but in my experience we're desperately short of skilled manual workers.

Having said all that, I was even more dismayed this week to hear Hermione being actively discouraged from pursuing the broad meandering path she had carved out for her Arts Award. Seemingly all that is expected is that you tick the boxes. Work carried out over and above that just clutters the boxes and presumably may take up more of the moderators time. I understand that moderators have time constraints and perhaps it's best that they are not overwhelmed with an onslaught of youthful exuberance for learning, but hey, I thought that learning and qualifications were inextricably linked; in a positive way!

What an absolute tragedy that formal qualifications seem to be operating, (and I say that having now queried this kind of practice in other national qualifications too) in such a way that they are curtailing curiosity and depth of knowledge.

I feel so thankful that I'm here to ensure Hermione ticks her own boxes, and expands her knowledge to her full capacity rather than being dumbed down by someone else's checklist.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Patchy house

No matter where I turn it seems pictures have been removed and test pots splashed on the walls. If only the price of decorating were not so astronomical I could possibly feel more relaxed about the decision. Knowing that whatever I choose, I will probably have to live with for years, is causing me angst.

I will make a decision and not default to magnolia (or magnolia by a different name which is the same but more expensive).

Monday, 26 March 2012

Neo Classical Architecture

I never cease to be amazed at the things I learn as a home educating mother. Really, in the acquisition of knowledge stakes, I'm sure this time totally overshadows my lengthy university days.

Hermione's Art Award is weaving a very broad and meandering path; so much so that I suspect we may only be able to cover basics (maths and English), plus Arts Award discoveries for the coming two or three months.

Yesterday saw us visit Newcastle Upon Tyne in search of Neo Classical architecture. Hermione has chosen The Statue of Liberty as the central hub of her project. Sadly, we couldn't manage a field trip to New York, so we set off somewhere closer to home to see examples of other Neo Classical works.

Had someone asked me a few days ago to identify examples of Neo Classical architecture I would have struggled; not so now I'm pleased to say!

This one below, the Moot Hall, is my favorite; not because of the lawyer in me but because of it's clean lines and simplicity. I think it's striking.

Incidentally, I think one of the main triggers for choosing the Statue of Liberty as a central theme was this YouTube clip which we first watched a couple of years ago.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Some 'firsts' this weekend

First water fight of the year.

The first vegetable seedlings poking through; rainbow chard.

The first time we saw the Vampire Bunny.

The first time I bought yarn to knit my beloved some socks.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Good thinking Batman!

When I grow up I'm going parachute jumping because I know the technique. Only open your eyes when you are close to the ground, and even then, only if your parachute has opened.


Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Ode to Billy

Oh Billy you were our favourite cock
A great addition to our flock,
Our girls they are so sorry now
To say goodbye they don’t know how.

For you they didn’t have much eye,
Because they’re like the WI.
They couldn’t cope with your advances,
Nor your Michael Jackson dances.

We hope you will now find a mate,
With whom you can enjoy a date.
Your squeaky croaks we won’t forget,
You're top of the roos don’t you bet.

Our beloved cockerel Billy has had to be re homed at a local sanctuary, because despite having never fully mastered the cock a doodle doos, and having never even attempted it at an unearthly hour, a noxious neighbor saw fit to complain to the local authority and I am not willing to become embroiled in a dispute about this.

We will miss him, even though he never did manage to provide us with fertile eggs. Alas, by the time he came, all young and hormonal, most of our girls were knocking on and had never encountered a cockerel. It was rather like releasing an eighteen year old boy into a Women's Institute meeting! I finally learned the true meaning of hen pecked.

Hermione and I have just made up this little ditty to help us celebrate the time he spent here with us. I will miss him moonwalking and the fine manners he brought to this place! He never ate till his flock of girls had had their fill, even if they weren't at all welcoming of his advances.

Monday, 19 March 2012


Ah, a testament to a childhood divorced from the crippling expectation of how boys and girls ought to behave. A little boy who loves blusher,accessories, sticks and footballs in equal measure!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Seeds and surprises

I chatted with the children earlier this week and we decided we wouldn't 'do' Mother's Day today. The children had plans to go shopping with their daddy last weekend but that all changed when we received the call to say granddad was sick. So, knowing they were fretting about being unprepared, and my worrying about what the weekend may bring, we decided to postpone.

Today Craig wanted to potter, drink coffee in peace and be mostly in his own space; which I totally understand. Spurred on by the spring sunshine I decided to have a rummage through my seed bag.

Lots of the seeds are out of date, but they're dry and have been in a stable temperature so I think some at least may germinate.

I still remember when I found this Rainbow Quinoa seed. I was so excited till I realised I really didn't have the space to be cultivating my own grains (or a seed as some people know it). I didn't have the space then and certainly don't now that I've given over my veg patch to the flock.

You can read a bit more about growing quinoa here. You know, I'm still intrigued, I may well just try it.

While faffing on with seeds and desperately trying to keep chooks out of my grobag, I noticed this on the deck.

A lovely pot planted with flower seeds and a tin with iced Hobnobs saying, I love you.

Awww, I'm blessed to be a mama! Bright blessings to all you mamas out there today!

Off to bed now with the second in The Witness Series by Rebecca Forster. The first in the series is free on Kindle here. It's no great shakes but it's satisfying my hunger for crime related fiction right now.

Saturday, 17 March 2012


My father in law died yesterday.

A week ago today we were called to hospital. We were shown straight into the relatives room and for a moment thought we were too late. In some respects we were too late. He was unconscious and never did regain consciousness. Doctors told us his body was closing down, he wouldn't survive; we knew what to expect.

Two days later I went on holiday, with the children, leaving Craig home alone.

How did that happen? How on earth did I come to leave my husband when I knew he was travelling to the hospital every day to watch his father slip away? It happened because he told me to, and for once, I shut up and accepted that perhaps he did have a deeper understanding of his feelings than I have of them.

I agreed to adopt his views and wishes, in relation to a situation which affected him first and foremost. I managed to resist the urge to superimpose my feelings, and what would be my wishes, onto the situation.

So what did I do all week?

I ate charred potatoes cooked in an open fire in the woods.

I went to bed very early and wrote reams of thoughts, feelings, ideas and dreams.

I paused to look at pretty patterns.

I made apple crumble at a luxurious pace, with a cheeky glass of chardonnay on the side.

I wondered at the beauty that is nature..

..and how all things leave their imprint on this world that we live in.

I found solace in a sock - and Miles had a spanking new pair all done and dusted to travel home in!

I'm thankful that my father in law had, by and large, the life I think he wished for. I'm also glad that even a sad situation like this can reveal something really positive to me.

Cheers Ronnie! I'll raise a glass to you this night, and having listened to your boy, am back where I belong, feeling recharged and ready to give freely of myself. Sleep tight. xx

Friday, 16 March 2012

A beautiful window on the world

Not quite sure how to put things into words right now, but just quickly wanted to share the beautiful window on the world, which I have enjoyed this week.

Beautiful by night (just look at the deep blue of the sky)...

..and also by day.

Out of our sanctuary...

..through the gate...

.. and into the fields.

Peaceful, beautiful and still.

Friday, 9 March 2012

When all else fails, felt your foot!

I decided I needed some light relief come mid afternoon today. The children had done their work, I'd been to the supermarket and vacuumed. It was then that I recalled a conversation with a friend who had seen a programme in which someone had felted their foot to make slippers. Unable to face dissecting another shelf of cluttered thoughts in my shed head, instead I turned to my box of wool roving.

I got out my feet. Please ignore the stuble on my legs.

I wrapped roving loosely around my foot....

.. and continued to do so while Miles wet felted a new playmat and Hermione toyed with the idea of felting her own foot.

Once my foot was well wrapped I placed it inside of a plastic bag.

I poured in lots of warm soapy water and pulled on one of Craig's boots (mine would not have fit with the extra bulk of wool and water).

Tied up tight and good to go!

A while spent tending chooks, a game of football with Miles and a few running races and I dared to remove the boot and bag.

The only area which isn't felted firm is the part around the top of my ankle. I don't think it had been wet enough or had enough friction.

In order to get it off without stretching it too much I have made a snip at the side.

The sole has a small area where the wool has parted and my foot would touch the floor (were I planning on making another and wearing them). Having said that, for a first attempt and just bumbling along I don't think it's too bad. It;s now drying out and I'll figure out what to do with it once it's dry.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Shed Head

I never thought I'd hear myself saying the likes, but in the whirlwind that seems to be life right now, I found myself explaining to friends the other day that I couldn't commit to social plans because 'my head's a shed'.

I took time out the other Saturday morning to spend a couple of hours working one to one with my meditation guru. She's a lovely lady who helps me to centre myself and find calm in the storm. She also helps me to find what's stagnating and push for change. I've been pushing hard for change, I truly have, but now things are changing at such a rate my mind can't keep pace - and my body's groaning loudly!

Truly, I'm hoping that once we've smashed virtually every egg in the basket, we will end up with a wonderful omelet. I'm just struggling to see past the mess right now.

Talking of eggs, one thing that has cheered me today is that our Cuckoo Marran has laid her first ever egg! Some people call this breed 'chocolate eggers' their eggs are so dark. You can see what they look like here. I can think of a few children who will be happy to dip their soldiers in these!

Another great thing that's happened today is that Hermione has made her first step towards an official qualification, an Arts Award. I'm really excited about it, even if in my current 'head shed' phase I don't appear to be. It's extremely broad and flexible. I can foresee it being much more cross curricula than I originally envisaged. As well as developing her arty talents and gaining confidence I think she's also going to really jump start her online presentation skills (something I have been shying away from) through this opportunity.

We splashed out on a Street Through Time this week. I have wanted it for what feels like forever. Circumstances have dictated that I think ahead about home ed supplies his week and I couldn't help but pop this one in my basket. I recommend it to you, particularly if you have a young visual learner at home.

Right, off to sort and declutter further corners of my ramshackle brain.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Ack!! Further irritations

I have just today realised that I spent ages last weekend raking extensive bald patches of the lawn and sewing grass seed, only to find I haven't actually sewn seed at all. What I appear to have sewn is grass seed husks. The seed was in the garage and it seems a little family of mice have gotten into the sack and eaten the innards of the seed. I guess it had been in there a long time. *sigh*

Also, when I needed a laugh last night, I stopped by YouTube to watch the eight minute clip of Mrs Brown Bikini Wax, only to discover I could only find the shortened version. What's going to make me laugh when all else fails now?

Grumble, grumble...

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Seeking calm and wisdom

It must be said, we've had a fantastic couple of days. Yet, I can't help but feel a desperate need for order. I feel like waves are washing over me and I'm just being pushed and pulled with the tide. I've stopped swimming; I'm just drifting. I hate it when dark clouds loom and no matter how hard you blow they just won't float away! I keep reminding myself that I'm surrounded by more drifters than swimmers right now. Times are tough. I know so many people who are struggling to envisage maintaining their lifestyle, or even some semblance of fiscal security.

A lovely friend gave me a Merlin Aura Spray containing all kinds of lovely aromatherapy oils, crystal essences and other lovey stuff. I think it's supposed to help me to connect with the ability to access knowledge and wisdom. I'm squirting it liberally and hoping for a eureka moment within the coming days!

Anyway, here are some of the fab things we have been doing when I've not been mooning about, stressing about things which are out of my control, or having a sneaky blog (like now) when I should probably be cooking dinner/mopping floor/educating the children.

Playing with the new pair of tennis rackets which we received courtesy of a lady on Freecycle.

Making pizza with friends at Pizza Express.

Chef demonstrating his dough tossing skills.

We spotted a Lavender Muscovy by the riverbank. If we add to our flock at all this year it will be to get a Lavender Muscovy. Unfortunately we can't find anyone with one to sell anywhere in England! How on earth this one, with nigh on perfect markings, has found itself living wild, I do not know! I suspect it's escaped from somewhere.

Hanging out with friends - of which I have some beautiful pictures but Hermione would rather I didn't post any as she feels she was having a bad hair day!.