30 January 2015


I love to be outside, as regular readers here will know it is an integral part of out week, at least one if not two days outside all year round.  I am lucky to live in a country which has an abundance of public footpaths which make wandering and exploring, easy and accessible.  I often find myself on a path that has clearly been in use for a long, long time.  The track itself maybe a good few feet lower than the land either side, worn down by footfall and weather most probably.  The history in those paths is likely to be long and fascinating, who would have walked there, where were they going, why did the path take thought that it does?  I was hoping for some answers in a book I read this month but it didn't fit the bill.

I have been wanting to read The Old Ways by Robert MacFarlane for a while now, it has been recommended to me by many bloggers.  I was given a copy for Christmas and was really looking forward to reading it.   It really disappointed me.  The cover of the book describes it as a journey on foot yet 60 pages are given over to sea journeys.  The journeys that were on foot were largely made on well known old routes that much is written about already, the few that were new to me were interesting but made up such a small part of the book that they were rather lost.  It is a beautifully written book and had I wanted to read a poetic, travel book about walking this would have been perfect but I expected something else from the words on the back........

I have read on blogs about people getting out of the reading habit and not being able to find a book to read.  After reading The Old Ways this happened to me.  I am sure it was because I was disappointed in it and didn't want to make another bad choice.  At the beginning of every month I take my children to our local independent bookshop to choose a book.  My eldest chose a wonderful book this month and when he had finished it suggested, with perfect timing, that I read it too.  I had just finished The Old Ways so I thought why not?  The Journey by Kathryn Lasky is a book written for children about Owls.  The author spent time researching these beautiful birds with a view to writing a non fiction book about them but she couldn't get the pictures she wanted to illustrate the book so she turned to fiction instead.  It is the classic story of good vs evil set in the world of Owls.  The imagery created by the prose is stunning, the description of Owl behaviour, I would hope, given the research of the author to be be correct is a good way to learn about Owls.  It is the first book of a series which seems to contain many books.  This book provided the basis of the film Legend of the Guardians which was released a few years ago.  Sadly for us this is the only book in the series, in print at the moment so we will have to wait and see if they reprint any of the others, we hope so!

So now I am in a bit of a rut.  I have been halfheartedly reading The Making of the British Landscape by Francis Pryor which is a meaty read.  I feel sure that I should put this down and read it when I am more focused as when I do read it I love it.  I picked up a book in the library this week which I think I will read next, A Handful of Straw by Mary Rensten is the story of the a famous witch trial of Jane Wenham at Hertford in 1712, not that famous as I hadn't heard of it have you?  I grew up in Hertfordshire where this book is set and it is a self published book both of which give it appeal to me, I hope it doesn't disappoint!

28 January 2015


I set myself the task of finding colour in January.  When you really open your eyes and start looking it is amazing what you find!

Colour everywhere.

So what, I wonder, should be my task for February?  I was thinking perhaps the hints of new life?

Any suggestions?

26 January 2015


...this week of...

...happiness fun in the snow at Forest School, a day out birdwatching, a weekend with my brother and partner

...sadness at over eating

...creating rows on a shawl, rows on a scarf, bird food

...reading The Making of the British Landscape by Francis Pryor and to the children The Pirates' Treasure by Emily Bearn and the tale of the Sparrow and the Tug of War.

...learning about animal tracks and poo, birds, squirrels, bird food, new songs

...thinking about festivals and traditions for February

...wondering about a friends recent behaviour and whether I should be worried about it or not

...hoping to get everything done this week that I need to before we go away

...enjoying this

...looking forward to visiting a old friend for a few days next weekend


If you would like to join me you would be most welcome, either using my headings or you own, let me know you have written a post and I will link up to it..........

23 January 2015


I took part in a challenge last year, one that involved reading 300 different picture books in a year.  When I decided to join in I didn't give much thought to whether it fitted in with how we read books, having realised that it didn't really I decided to carry on with it to see, out of interest, how many we would read.  All the books we read were chosen from our shelves or of those of the library by the children themselves.  We didn't quite reach 300 but we got surprisingly close.  What the challenge did show me was how sporadic our reading* has become in a week.  Whilst I would always expect that we would read more in some weeks than others there were many weeks when we read little or nothing despite it being an ordinary week at home.  I am still mulling over how to include it into our rhythm or whether I should just continue to let it happen when my children want it to, this would be on top of the reading that we do at lunchtime our chapter book and stories and poems related to our learning.

My youngest would like to learn to read, she has mentioned it several times over the last few months. My eldest never made such a request he 'taught' himself to read and now spends a large part of his time reading.  My children learn very differently, as I would expect them to, they have very different characters.  I read to my eldest as much as I read to my youngest but he liked talking about the story, the pictures, me pointing to the words as I read them none of which my youngest wants or enjoys.  I know that reading books to children is part of them learning to read but there are other things I can do to enable her learning if she wants me to.

My eldest learnt a lot from a programme, Alphablocks he watched it extensively and exclusively at this age (5.5), my youngest does so occasionally.  I made my eldest a set of road signs which we took out on journeys, they have either one letter or word on, we have looked at these but have yet to take them out in the car.  I also made a set of labels of words of familiar household objects which I have stuck to the object.  She has been very interested by this idea and has been 'reading' these labels on and off over the last few weeks.  She has also been asking about words that she finds all over the place.  When I tell her about a new, to her, letter she will go and find more.  Slowly she is adding to her list of letters she can identify, at her pace.

I have a set of picture cards which along with a board of letters (like a lotto board) we can use for sound development and the lovely game I-spy.  We have magnetic letters on our fridge which my eldest didn't really make use of and my youngest is not that interested in either maybe now I could remove them, they do drive me mad!  I have thought about making cards with each letter on using a tactile material for the letter, has anyone else used these?  I would need to come up with some activities for introducing them, if you have any ideas...............I like the look of this book and this book but have not seen inside them both to know which would be the most suitable, if at all.  This is a journey that I am excited about, I thought it would be a while before she was interested.  It could also be that whilst she aspires to read she is not ready for it yet.  We will see!

I have realised by writing all this down that I did actually 'do' a lot more than I had thought to enable my eldest to learn to read.

* | * | * | * | *

* my eldest can read independently so I am really talking about the reading I do to and with my youngest child who is not reading as yet.

21 January 2015


I have an old chest of drawers that used to belong to my granparents, it has deep wide drawers which are hopeless for keeping clothes in.  You always want/need what is at the bottom back corner.  We I use it for storage.  The top drawer is full of first aid supplies, a hangover from my time as an outdoor instructor I never go anywhere without a first aid kit which needs constantly resupplying..................

Of the other two drawers one has yarn it, mostly ends of balls from past projects and a few skeins patiently waiting to be knitted.  The other is full of material, again pieces left from projects, or pieces acquired/given to me that have already been made into something but would be perfect to be made into something else someday.  There is also a small pile of old clothes beyond repair that are, the could be used to make something one day pile.  One piece is a pair of old linen trousers of mine worn for years but now completely worn through on the seat and rather grubby I noticed when I got them out to have a good look at them recently.

I have been wanting to make some mats to put hot drinks on for a while now, we have a few round cork ones that look like a mouse has had a good chew at, they haven't I don't think but I wouldn't put it past those mice that moved in a couple of years ago.  We also have a few old CDs that do a serviceable job but they have a hole in the middle which means that a small part of the surface they are on still gets hot, one of our tables does not like this.  So I had some linen and an idea and this is what I came up with................

I had no template and so kind of guessed based on the one square mat we own.  They have a section of towel in the middle to provide the padding.  The towel is an old stained one that had been relegated to the mopping up messes pile.  As the linen was a pale colour I thought they would look good with an appliquéd shape on them, I went for an apple but you could sew anything you fancy, a circle, a leaf, maybe?  If you don't fancy applique you could just miss that part out and make them from some patterned material.

So I cut two squares, from the linen and one from the towel. The first two I made were 4" squares, the third a 5" square.  I sewed the appliqué shape to one of the linen squares.  Then I placed the linen squares right sides together with the towel square on top, pinned them and sewed around 7/8ths of the edges leaving a 1/8 of a side unsewn.  I turned it the right way out through the hole and hand sewed the edge up.  Voila a mat.  I now have three, in three different sizes it would seem.............

I have cut some squares to make some more they are patiently waiting on a shelf.

19 January 2015


...this week of...

...happiness a tidy house, watching snow falling, achievements

...sadness my eldest being really unwell, he is never ill and has really struggled with being ill this week

...creating rows on my cardigan, a birthday present for a friend, rows on a sock, snowballs

...reading The Old Ways by Robert MacFarlane and The Journey by Kathryn Lasky and to the children The Pirates' Treasure by Emily Bearn

....learning about castles, perspective, marianas trench, plough monday, wassailing, snow, 2 and 3D shapes, volcanoes, evolution, gravity and mammals

...thinking about future projects we can incorporate into our learning

...wondering if we might see friends this week as everything we had planned last week was cancelled!

...hoping my eldest will be well enough to do some of the lovely activities I have planned for this week

...enjoying this

...looking forward to seeing my brother at the weekend


If you would like to join me you would be most welcome, either using my headings or you own, let me know you have written a post and I will link up to it..........


One of my lovely moments this week has been to join with Rhonda and her pantry challenge.  I wrote a Do list at the beginning of the year, jobs that I need to do at some point, one of those on the list was to tidy my pantry.  I knew what was in there but not exactly where everything was, it was organised chaos.  So the gauntlet having been thrown I waded in..........

My pantry houses most of the food, we have a few bits and pieces stored in the kitchen, one small cupboard and some wicker drawers for fruit and veg.  It is actually a cupboard under the stairs and was not originally part of the kitchen at all.  When we bought the house the wall between the kitchen and the hall had been taken down, we have extended our kitchen into what was the hall by utilising this cupboard as a pantry.  My kitchen is very small and there is no way I would be able to store what I want to if I didn't have this cupboard.  So without further ado, some before (left) and after (right) pictures.

Most storage is in wicker baskets, the top shelf is a stone slab which keeps food cool for most of the year:

Behind the baskets is where I store food that I buy in bulk:

I decant this into containers stored in the baskets:

On the other side of the pantry is the shelves for my chutneys and jams (homemade of course!) and a herb and spice rack this was all in order already :).

(sorry about the not very good photos, this cupboard is dark unless the light is on and it receives no natural light being in the middle of the house............)

16 January 2015


The green shoots of snowdrops are tentatively pushing their way above ground.  

The days are gradually getting longer, an imperceptible change as the earth slowly tilts the Northern Hemisphere towards the sun.  

The sun is the golden key to unlock the gates of nature's store of renewed life, to bring spring on its way.

Prompted by writealm