02 May 2015

Priorities



I started to write a post on Thursday, I was shoehorning that writing into a busy morning.  There were lots of other things I needed to be doing.  So I downed tools and stopped.  My life is all about slow living but at the moment it feels so far removed from that as I try to keep many balls in the air.

Over the winter months my life has a wonderful rhythm to it, this winter my children really enjoyed doing a project during Advent.  They enjoyed it so much that I started another one at the beginning of the new year and now were are doing a third.  Cameron told me this week that he loved the projects we have been doing and can we do Dinosaurs next.  This home edding thing involves adapting as the children grow and change their needs change too.  Whereas Cameron was happy to do his own thing for years now he is looking to me much more.  Alice joins in when she wants to, and more and more is asking to do things too, but usually they need to be at her level.  This is involving more and more planning on my part, a lot more researching and thinking, I am loving it but it takes time.

I have always struggled to make friends.  All my life.  At school I tended to keep to the edges, not quite sure if I wanted to be in the middle and baffled about how to get there.  This carried on after I left home and spent time in higher education and working.  Much of the work I did in my twenties involved short contracts (up to nine months) that necessitated me moving around, a lot.  I suspect subconsciously this was a protection my part, that friends thing still a mystery.  It has taken having children and starting to home ed to finally feel that I am part of something.  I read much about the blogging community before I started this one.  I thought it sounded like fun, but I have still always felt on the edge.  I know that you have to work hard to be part of any community but I have never been able to find the 'right' one online.  These past few weeks I have really reduced the amount of time I have been spending online and it showed.

Now that it is Spring and the weather is warming up, well hopefully it will, my garden takes up time.  I need to be out there tending it if we are to have any hope of producing food of our own.  In the winter I don't replace that activity with something else so that time has to taken out of my day.

So my priorities needed examining and much thinking has been done.  I have made two big decisions this week and one is that I am no longer going to be writing this blog.  This will be my last post.  I would like to thank all of you who have visited and read what I have written here.  A huge thank you to those that have commented, the lovely positive comments and support has been wonderful.

I will miss you all.

*******************


This is not a goodbye, if you would like to stay in touch email me your address and I will use old fashioned snail mail!

29 April 2015

Mosiac


April was a month of contrasts........

...of snow, rain, sleet and sunshine.

...of hats, coats, short sleeved t-shirt and sandals

...of walks in the woods and a walk around our capital city


What about your month?

27 April 2015

Moments...



...this week of...

...happiness a lovely weekend doing things with my family, sunshine, sowing seeds, talking to someone who I wasn't sure about and finding out that we have so much in common

...sadness at bumping into a old colleague and hearing that she left because she was the victim of a witch hunt at our old place of work, the two colleagues responsible (senior managers) were later sacked

...creating the last few rows of my Shalom, the start of a cardigan, a plan for a new project

...reading The Making of the British Landscape by Francis Pryor and The Lie of the Land by Ian Vince and to the children 18 Mulberry Road  by Frank English

...learning about building space probes, Mercury, Venus, Pluto, dwarf planets, St George, fire and fire safety, brushing hair

...thinking about a canoe expedition

...wondering if the seeds I sowed over a week or so ago are going to germinate or should I sow some more

...hoping to get started on some presents for Alice

...enjoying this

...looking forward to starting a few new ideas

25 April 2015

Hope



I have read somewhere this week that the sales of vegetable seeds overtook flower seeds last year.  I do hope that it is not just a passing fashion.  Growing your own is not an easy undertaking, sometimes it can feel like an uphill battle but the rewards are amazing.  I have been growing my own for the past twelve summers, we inherited a patch of grass when we bought our house which we have turned into a productive wildlife friendly space.  It is not huge but it is enough for me to keep on top off, just, with everything else that we also like to do.

The main lesson I have learnt in all those years is to grow only what is suitable for my climate, seems simple, but there are many plants that I thought were and are grown successfully by others in my area.  My limited space means that I have to choose carefully, whilst always growing what we actually like eating.

I live in a terraced house, the middle of five.  All our plots are long and thin, the back of the house is the middle of a 100m plot (it's about 5.5m wide), we have a front and back garden.  Immediately behind our house is an access strip as wide as a car which is shared by all the houses in the two terraces (there is another block of five) so we have to keep that land clear.  It makes a great safe place for children to play.  My back garden where I currently do all my growing is about 35ish metres long.

All the permanent plants we grow have to be very hardy, but even then some don't survive.  I think I may have lost yet another Rosemary bush this winter despite being assured it would cope!  Living, as I do, in the UK our maritime climate brings us all weathers, sometimes in one day.  We are at 54.5°N, 270m above sea level, on the edge of a small village.  There is open land in front of our house as far as the horizon, which is a 700 - 800m high ridge of hills about eight miles away and where most of our weather comes from.  We get a lot of rain, 510mm so far this year, more than three times that on average over the year, and wind blowing right across that open ground and not much sun.  Temperatures in the summer months average around 17°C, there have been a couple of summers since we have lived here where the temperatures barely got into double figures.  I always wait to buy my children sandals............

You would be forgiven for thinking it was all doom and gloom, but plenty of plants thrive, it has just taken a while to work out which ones they are.  We are also fortunate that land around fifteen miles south of us is at sea level which has a warmer climate and longer growing season (by about a month) there is an abundance of pick your owns farms in that area which provide us with all the fruit and veg that we cannot grow.

My garden is looking a little bare right now, I am busy sowing seeds, but you can see pictures of it here and here.  What about you?

22 April 2015

Marathon



This time of year always feels like a bit of a marathon, with lots of birthdays, it feels like I am never without needles in my hands, either sewing or knitting.  I have endeavoured to be a little more organised this year, starting things off a bit earlier which has paid off as I now have over a month to Alice's birthday which is the finishing line.  I have already started on some sewing which is cut out and getting more and more creased as it waits on the back of a chair.  But now that I can focus on her presents I am completely undecided as to what to make!  I don't want a finishing straight of late nights so I hope my mojo comes back soon.  In the meantime I have cast on a cardigan which I hope I can finish in time, I am not a fan of knitting to deadlines, I have just less than five weeks......

Late night making would put paid to my reading time which is rather precious to me.  I have found that I sleep so much better if I read before going to sleep, I spend anything up to an hour.  This is not something I could contemplate when the children were younger but now that they are getting older, the small bits of me time are treasured and used wisely.  My current reading is a large book which has kept me occupied for a few weeks now.  A history of the British Landscape as sculpted by man, it starts with prehistoric times and takes you right up to the modern day.  The author is an archeologist based in the Fens, which he has a slight bias towards in this book, naturally I suppose as this has probably been his major area of study.

Joining Ginny

20 April 2015

Moments...



...this week of...

...happiness spending time with my parents, catching up with friends I haven't seen for two years, sunshine 

...sadness at the tragic death of migrants off the coast of Italy

...creating a storysack, some fabric baskets, rows on my shalom, the front piece of a cardigan, the start of a cardigan, lots of peg people, 

...reading The Making of the British Landscape by Francis Pryor, to the children 18 Mulberry Road  by Frank English

...learning about planets, fractions, the Buddhist and Sikh New Year Festivals, wool, sheep, knives, whittling, leaf cutter ants

...thinking about plans for a camping trip that Alice has requested for her birthday

...wondering if I am trying to fit too much into my weeks

...hoping to start planning a new learning project

...looking forward to sowing more seeds in my garden

17 April 2015

Outdoors



For many years the advent of Spring, with its warmer temperatures, marked a change in our rhythm.  You see for a few winters we took to hibernation, only venturing out to visit friends or do our weekly shop.  We are prone to having winters that are grey and heavy, with lots of grey cloud which brings the rain, damp cold is the very worse kind.  It gets inside you and chills you to the bone.  So when my children both reached that age where they were too heavy to be carried all day, but their legs were too short for walking about fast enough to keep me warm we virtually stopped going out in the Winter.

That time seems so recent, yet so far away now.  As the children grew I was determined to spend more of the colder months doing things outside but each time I tried something new, attempting to venture out seemed like trying to hold back the tide and when we were out all they wanted to do was go home.  I was clearly choosing the wrong activities.

I know that some people go for a walk at the same time everyday, I thought this sounded like a lovely idea.  But it just didn't work for us.  I thought perhaps if we did the same walk every week round our village, that might work?  No.  What has worked is setting aside one afternoon a week, usually the same afternoon to focus on being outside.  Going for a walk, a bike ride, birdwatching.....this year we have decided to vist the same wood every month to see how it changes through the seasons.  We did this once before, about three years ago and the children requested we did it again.  Our walks have taken us all over the place, up big hills, around lakes, through castle grounds, along rivers.  But what has been so wonderful is that we carried on doing this right through the winter without really noticing.

I know that much is written about the lack of time children spend out of doors, the lack of connection to nature.  What I always knew to be true was that the more time you spend outside the more time you want to spend, and that this would naturally lead to loving it rather than hating it.  We always fear the unknown.  So what started as a birdwatching trip once a month has turned into birdwatching every time we are out and about.  We have started to be able to spot birds by their flight and their song.  A very wet winter afternoon spent identifying trees by their winter buds has led to both children being able to identify a number of trees in this way far more reliably than I can!

I spent so much of my childhood outside.  I grew up in a town but we lived on a road with few cars, less people owned cars in the 70s, large gardens and there were lots of open spaces and tree belts nearby.  We rode bikes, built dens, cooked on fires in all weathers.  I worked outside for over ten years, all year round.  I need to spend time outside to feel recharged and connected.  

It makes my heart sing that, for now, I have found what works for us.