Monday, 7 July 2008

I'm moving my blog in the hope of reducing spammers and the computer problems that they seem to be causing me. I hope that you will come along and continue to share in the ups and down as I carry on swimming up stream in this crazy world *grin*. You would be very welcome.

Yo can now find me at Still Raising The Next Generation. I hope to see you there.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Dancing with fire

I came across this video about a week ago and I've watched it countless times since. I'm mesmerised. I want to dance with fire in the darkness!

Doubt it's the kind of thing you learn to do at local college nightclasses and probably isn't the sort of thing you should attempt without some sort of idea of what you're doing. Hopefully it will happen one day though.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Local Home Ed Camp

We joined a group of approximately twenty other local home ed families on a campsite on the Northumberland Coast this week. It was fabulous. The location of the site was excellent - just a quick hop over the sand dunes and we were on the beach. We were also spoiled for choice in the way of beautiful attractions if we wanted to head off site. The weather was glorious and the company was great. We really couldn't have asked for more. Many families camped for five nights but we just camped for two. We are novices in the world of camping and really just dipped out toe in this time to see how it would be. We'll certainly stay for longer all being well next year.

The beach was one of those where at low tide you can scarcely see the sea. If you look hard here you can see a small amount of white on the horizon. That's the waves breaking.

However, within no time at all the tide had turned and whilst the breaking waves still seemed a long long way off, a really fast moving sheet of water, flat as a mill pond, surged across from the right of the bay area. It was fascinating to watch. Craig thinks there must have been a sandbank. Something for me to look into. I am absolutely fascinated by the sea.

While in the area we visited Paxton House. I had been once before and was keen to go again. We didn't go in the house, just the grounds - they're fantastic. The highlights this visit had to be the waterlilies and croquet on the lawn.

We also visited Chain Bridge Honey Farm and stocked up on some of the delicious local honey. They have a great observation hive. The kids were fascinated.

When the children were settled in the evenings I had the opportunity to chat to other home ed folks who I rarely get to speak to. Actually I rarely get to speak to any home ed folks when I see them out and about during the day as Miles is still of an age where he need a watchful eye on him all of the time. It was great to chat.

There are a couple of conversation which I had which are still buzzing around my brain. One was about how you feel when you reach that stage and know the likelihood is that you will never bare another child. The other was about the ongoing process of grieving the passing of certain development stages your children go through, for example knowing you will never again pace the floor in that back breaking position holding the hands of a child who is on the verge of taking their very first steps. It was really poignant that these conversations came about, that someone else initiated them, when they are matters that I myself have been thinking about so much of late.

All in all I had a wonderful time but I'm very pleased to be home. We all missed Craig lots and I was also well over due a good soak in the tub. I've made a mental note to ensure I buy flip flops before my next camping excursions as I'm sure that will make the site showers more user friendly.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Elderflower champagne

We've had a quite an easy going day today after our trip out yesterday.

Hermione and Nana headed into town to buy Uncle Brian a birthday present. They were away longer than I expected and that was because they had called into Waterstones and Hermione spent time reading books out loud to Nana. I think we're really making that transition right now from reading being perceived as a chore to it being a pleasure.

In the meantime Miles and me bumbled at home. We played between snacks but in all honesty most of the day has been spent snacking. He wasn't too well last week and off his food but he's certainly making up for it now. In addition to three good meals he has eaten two raw carrots, two oranges, three nectarines and a banana today. It amazes me how much fruit and veg that boy can eat!

We picked the first of our broad beans but the beans inside were quite small. We enjoyed them with dinner but I think it will be two to three weeks before I pick more.

We also picked some more elder flowers and have started to make elderflower champagne from this recipe. I've never made anything like this before but it seems very straightforward.

The flowers and lemons looked and smelled good when they first went into the pan but they're looking and smelling less so now. Will have to wait and sample the finished product before forming any opinions though.

Monday, 30 June 2008

Archaeology, jelly fishes, elderflower pancakes

We've had a lovely day today. We've done lots but it's been at our own pace so I just feel pleasantly weary now as opposed to exhausted and frazzled.

We hung out at the beach for a while making sandcastles and gazing at the numerous jelly fish washed onto the shore.

We then went to a park which was absolutely fantastic, with all kinds of play equipment and interactive water features, but unfortunately a school trip descended within minutes of us having arrived and suddenly it wasn't at all pleasant. We made a hasty exit but will certainly go back.

From there we meandered round to Arbeia where we watched the archaeologists at work until such time as the school party had vacated the resource centre - after which we had it all to ourselves.

Watching the children running around, laughing and playing hide and seek I pondered what effect their upbringing will have upon their relationship in years to come. Will the fact that they are home educated and therefore spend a lot more time together than many siblings result in them having a closer bond? I don't know - and won't know for many years to come, but it still doesn't stop me wondering.

Back at home we played in the garden and picked elder flowers to make elderflower pancakes.

The first one was a disaster as the flowers burn very quickly but once I got the hang of it they were fine. I'd like to tell you they tasted delicious but I didn't get to taste one. Hermione and Miles ate them as quickly as I made them. Guess they can't have been that bad.

Sunday, 29 June 2008


Well, it finally happened, the sun shone and we danced around the maypole - all forty seven of us at some point or other, (I think Craig was the only one who didn't pick up a ribbon at all).

Here is one of the patterns we made.

It's been fabulous. I feel so lucky to have the space to be able to do this and to have so many lovely friends to come and join me.

Friday, 27 June 2008


We have just been out in the garden and noticed our first set of mooli are starting to bolt too. We pulled up a few and they were dissapointing, not much bigger than raddishes. But then we pulled up this one which is a good six inches (possibly bigger if you ask a man).

It's mooli and pak choi stirfry on the menu here tonight if you would care to join us *grin*.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Strawberry picking

We went strawberry picking earlier this week. I think we were too hasty as many of the berries were nowhere near ripe. We still managed to fill a basket though and most of them have already been eaten.

We do have a few strawberry plants in the garden but not many. What we do have seem to be producing masses of leaves and not many fruit too. Considering the price of strawberries I think we should make efforts to grow our own next year. I've heard that they grow well in guttering and that would save space on my patch. Just pondering where to attach the guttering too though. Thankfully I've a few months to figure that one out.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Sports Day

We had a Sports Day at one of our local home ed groups today. It was brilliant. The place where we generally hire the hall agreed to us using a large area of their grassland for the event and even mowed it for us specially. The rain stayed away until we were making our way back to the hall and thanks to the hard work of some parents, (not me I hasten to add), all went like clockwork.

It was a real traditional sort of affair with egg and spoon races, sack races, wheel barrow races, three legged race and water events. Hermione and Miles had an excellent time and judging by the looks on the faces of the other children they did too.

I have sometimes feared that by choosing to home educate my children would miss out on what I feel to be some of the more enjoyable aspects of school life - such as sports days. That concern was blown away today and whats more the event was managed in a way that there was no big thing made of winners or loosers - it was all about having fun and taking part. Excellent!

Tuesday, 24 June 2008


The postie arrived with my Amazon order today, Raw Magic by Kate Wood. It is a beautiful book full of wonderful colour photographs. All of my other raw books look very drab in comparison. There are some really exciting recipes and lots of nutritional info too. I suppose the only downside from my point of view is that virtually every recipe contains a high percentage of super foods, making them quite expensive. I suspect I will adapt some of the recipes to make them more affordable for day to day consumption. Lots in there to inspire me, from cakes, dips, breads and more!

Something else happened today which felt almost magical. We were driving along in the car and Hermione started to ask what is A add F, what is B add two times H and so on. When I didn't know the answers she told me and I quickly realised she had assigned a value to every letter depending upon it's place in the alphabet. She's very excited about her new mathematical approach - I think she believes she's invented it! I love it when things happen like this. Had I said to her, 'now let me tell you all about the basics of algebra' there would most likely have been moans and groans.

On the not so magic front Miles has been unwell today. Not terribly unwell in himself but he's had a very high temperature. Along with my Amazon delivery came my delivery from Thompson and Morgan and I hoped to get some seeds planted. That wasn't possible with Miles being as he was and will have to wait till another day. I'm really happy with my seed delivery too. I've bought some carrot and parsnip seeds which grow rounded vegetables for use in clay soils - where the vegetable can't develop because it can't get through the hard earth. I also bought a promotional pack of seeds for £1 and when they arrived they included a packet each of melon, cabbage, parsley, strawberries and rocket - not bad at all!

Monday, 23 June 2008

The Nettle and the Butterfly

We read this book today.

I think the text was possibly too detailed for Miles and insufficiently detailed for Hermione, however, we all enjoyed the fantastic colourful illustrations.

We now have two beautiful caterpillar hotels here in which we hope to watch the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly - just as soon as we find a caterpillar looking for four star treatment with a guaranteed supply of nettles.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Best made plans

I don't usually make plans but I did for this weekend - and nothing turned out to plan at all! It started out that we were going to spend part of the weekend camping and celebrate the Solstice with friends at an outdoor event. However once we factored in Craig's work commitments and the strong wind warning issued by the Met Office we ended up in a caravan on a cliff top (still not the best place to be in high winds but certainly better than a tent), swimming in the indoor pool and making the best of what was round and about between torrential downpours.

I'm not sure why it is but I always feel that caravans are even more claustrophobic than tents. I think one factor is that they don't lend themselves well to the needs of co-sleeping families and the living area ends up resembling some sort of nest - which some people can't resist bouncing about on!

Some things that made me smile this weekend.

Welly boot washing line.

A den.

A den with a very impressive roof I should say.

His and hers scarecrows.

A willow dome that someone should rightfully be most proud of...

...complete with seat.

Clay oven.

The sound of wind and torrential rain outside when I was cosy in the caravan also made me smile but there are no photos of that - thankfully.

We read Ellen Jacksons Summer Solstice book.

As a wholly unrelated aside, do you know that you can now get purple sweet potatoes? I didn't until we visited frineds for dinner on Friday evening and they were on the menu. They are delicious, really chestnutty. Even Craig the usually reluctant sweet potatoe muncher enjoyed them. I recommend them!

Friday, 20 June 2008

I will not succumb

Repeat, I will not succumb....

Ok, so after much humming and hahing I have decided that Miles is not too old to still be slung (in the nicest possible sense). I have parted with my stash of slings much too early. So, this morning I went to meet with a lady who sells Eden Mei Tais so that I could indulge Miles and myself in more cosy carries. I think he's too big for anything other than a back carry now and it will take a little while for us to a new carrying style, but we'll get there.

One of the good thing about traditional baby wearing slings is that the resale value is good. Although the initial investment can be high you know you will recoup most of it.

Anyway, when we met up with the lady her little children were riding these fabulous bikes with no pedals. They were excellent. You could just see them exuding confidence as they whizzed along on what at a glance looked like a big kids bike. Cycling at a much earlier age than would be possible with a traditional bike.

They are called LikeABike and unfortunately they are quite pricey. I'm hoping I won't succumb but I suspect I might. Probably best not to even mention that thought to Craig till we pay the bill for damage to the car I pranged this morning *sigh*. Thankfully no one was hurt but someone is now driving a car with a crumpled door and I have a dented boot.

Thursday, 19 June 2008


Take three plastic carrier bags, an iron, a scrap of material and some thread. Put them all together and complete with original handle from bag. Voila!

It's very touchy feely. The reformed plastic tiles are quite strong but flexible. I guess you could use this technique for making all kinds of things - plastic bags which are durable, place mats for cats - there are endless possibilities. I like it!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Promises of things to come

Craig and Hermione went bowling this afternoon. I love it when the combination of Hermione's home ed status and Craig's self employed status come together in unison. It's something which I envisaged happening regularly but in reality it's quite a rarity. We have the means by which to organise our lives in certain ways but something (life perhaps) keeps getting in the way.

Anyway, with Craig and Hermione out having fun, Miles and I dragged ourselves around the garden, complete with camera. Our energy levels seem to have hit a real slump this week. Miles curled up and fell asleep on the rug yesterday which is an absolute first. I've been in bed by 8.00pm two nights in the last week which is also most unusual. Usually we are very in tune with the seasons, but here we are, on the lead up to the longest day of the year, a time when we should be sleeping least and yet we just can't seem to stay awake!

'Do I like butter?' asked Miles, rubbing a buttercup into his chin. Well, I suspect he won't get to find out living around here but he certainly did enjoy the vegan chocolate cake he had after lunch *grin*.

Looking around the garden there are signs of so many good things in the making. Much to look forward to.

Courgetti spaghetti

Cherry pie

Salad potatoes

Apple crumble

Elderflower cordial

Pasta in a creamy sauce with fresh green beans

I don't want to get into a rut. I'm hoping to use different recipes with our garden gifts this year. I need to start thinking about the elder flowers now as they will all be out within a couple of weeks. I don't want to use them all on cordial this year. I'm wondering if their flavour would lend itself to some sort of sorbet perhaps?

If anyone has some 'ooommph' going spare could they fling it this way please? In the meantime I think I'll get myself over to Amazon and order this book in the hope that it might help to rev me up. I've been looking for an excuse to buy it for ages - not that I should *need* an excuse to buy something like this I know.

Edited to add, when putting Hermione to bed tonight she said, 'I know what's wrong with you mum. You go out to meditation once a week and out for wine and pizza with friends once a month. You should do it the other way round.' Could she be right? I would say bring on the garlic bruschetta and merlot but I think that could finish me right off at the moment!

Monday, 16 June 2008

Unplugged Project

The theme for this weeks Unplugged Project was plastic.

Once again we tried to crochet with plastic carrier bags - and once again it was an exercise in frustration and disappointment I'm afraid!

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Coming around again

I think it must be the third time I've heard it in the last year or so - can we learn about making maple syrup mum?

We've read stories about it and made collages and stuff in the past, so I just Youtubed it this time (lazy I know).

No prizes for guessing Hermione's specialist subject should she ever take her place on Mastermind.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Slummy Mummy

Is my husband trying to tell me something? Do you think this is an improvement on when the Easter Bunny left me a copy of Good Housekeeping Magazine? I'm not sure.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Life is a bowl of cherries

I arrived home from the supermarket this afternoon to find a beautiful can of flowers and a rather snazzy looking bottle of wine waiting for me. I should go to the supermarket more often!

Things have been very neglected around the house of late. I'm breeding dust and fluff. Fly Lady would not be impressed. Incidentally, does anyone still do that Flying thing? I can remember a few years ago there used to be lots of chats about it on parenting sites. No one seems to talk about it anymore - there's probably a reason for that *grin*. Anyway, I made big inroads into the mountains of washing waiting to be put away today and everyone has had their bedding changed. I feel a bit embarrassed that it has become a blogworthy event, but sadly that is so.

We picked our first tomato today. It's from a yellow tomato plant - it looks under ripe but it's not supposed to be red.

Something else put a smile on my face today. No knead bread. I like the look of this. May try it sometime.

Tomorrow a friend is coming over to cook a Greek meal for dinner. Moussaka, baklava, the works *grin*. Looking forward to it very much. I'll be one year closer to getting my bus pass tomorrow and I can't think of any better gift than a meal I don't have to cook or clear away myself.

On a slightly less positive note, I think it may be time to reacquaint myself with this book. I read it once a long time ago at which point it didn't really seem applicable to us. It may be that I could use some of it's wisdom right now though. However, I'm not going to dwell on that right now. Today may have just been 'one of those days'.

I hope you all have one of those 'bowl of cherry weekends', just watch out for the pits!