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!

Thursday, 12 June 2008


A couple of local home edding families are fortunate enough to have a wonderful fourteen acres of land, complete with river and woodland to call their own. We are fortunate enough to have been invited along there today along with other local home educators for a get together.

The families who own the land have offered to host us all once a month and share their many crafts (basketry, wooden bowl making, iron work etc) and nature insights with us. The sessions are to be called Roots.

Although only a few miles from the city centre it felt like we were miles away. It was lovely to chill out and watch the children playing games, building assault courses, clambering around the woodlands and identifying different trees. A lovely relaxed day outdoors - my favourite kind of day.

When Miles becme tired and a little engulfed in the high undergrowth of the woodland a mei tai appeared almost as if by magic and he enjoyed a ride on my back. The little boy who had been in it a lot of the day no longer wanted to be in it just at the time we really needed a lift. Wonderful! I've used lots of different kinds of slings over the years but have never got on with mei tais before. That all changed today and I'm now wondering if I should try to pick up a second hand one even if just for occassions like this - nettles higher than child *grin*.

There is so much positivity in the local home ed community right now. I really do feel lucky to be right here, right now as a home edding parent. In the right place at the right time.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Polars on the path, pak choi and perfect timing

We finished reading Polars on the Path the other day. It was yet another excellent story from the Animal Ark series. We really like these. Some are more involved than others but by and large we have enjoyed all of the ones we have read.

Polars on the Path tells the tale of polar bears congregating at Churchill while waiting to move on in their migration when the bay has frozen over.

I have heard reports of global warming having a negative impact upon the polar bear population and thought this would be a good time to discuss this with Hermione. We watched a couple of Youtube clips which I've embedded below and talked in general about global warming. However, looking at some of the comments written about these clips I feel I should now start Googling and find out what really is going on with the polar bears. Some people suggest that the polar bears are thriving and that global warming is having no effect at all. Sounds odd to me, surely global warming would have some effect upon them even if the negative impact was still minimal at this point?

While out picking spinach for dinner this evening (I decided I needed to pick lots as it's starting to get very tall and looking like it may bolt at any time), I noticed the tiny start of buds on my pak choi. I'm despairing! At the start of last week I noticed my rocket was beginning to bolt and we seemed to eat mountains of rocket for a couple of days. By the weekend we had about eight plain lettuce which overnight seemed to be ready to eat and have eaten at least one a day since. The spinach is getting tall and now my pak choi has the start of buds!

I'm all for a seasonal kitchen. Seasonal is good. The rush to eat copious amounts of greens before they burst into flowers is less good though!

I don't know what's gone wrong. Perhaps it's the warm spell we have had over the past week or so? I read on a site the other day that rocket and pak choi should never be planted before the longest day so perhaps I have planted them too soon? Perhaps the height of summer isn't a good time for them? There's more to this veg growing business than meets the eye - or at least I should say there is if you don't want to end up eating the way we have the past couple of weeks.

We have had a fabulous day today. We went to a home ed gathering and then wandered around the park with some of the families from the meeting. The weather was glorious. Now, with the children all tucked up in bed the clouds have opened and it's pouring with rain. Perfect timing. It will be great for the garden. I love a good downpour after a few days of good sunshine. Opening the curtains the next day and seeing everything looking much greener and perkier *grin*.

Monday, 9 June 2008

'Over Parenting'

I'm not sure why I've called this post 'Over Parenting' as that's one of the few things that's certainly not gone on around here of late. Everything else has been going on though, or so it seems.

Sometimes it gets to the end of the day and it feels that I've been on hand all day, made meals, answered all kinds of questions, retrieved toys stuck on trees, passed down games from high shelves, kissed bumps and bruises better plus much more besides. However, it doesn't feel like I've spent any *real* (aka *quality* perhaps) time with the children.

But then what is *real* time? Surely all time is real and all time has a quality of it's own?

I spent a long time thinking that I was responsible for keeping my children continuously occupied. Caught up on a merry go round of stimulating activities and social engagements. I think my decision to home educate fuelled my constant desire to keep them busy - as if activity somehow equalled growth and development.

In the last couple of months I've been too busy to be as attentive as I was before. I spend quite a lot of time in the vegetable patch because I attach a lot of value to providing my family with some fresh food.

Slug and lettuce

Feathery fennel

Potatoes and geraniums by the patio

I've been busy with Wooly Wonders because although mumming is the most important job I'll ever do, I need to do something else too.

This weeks creation which started out as a necklace.

But it grew so long that I think I may keep it and decorate my headboard with it.

I've been trying to help Craig keep afloat while he sails through choppy waters as the effect of being part of the 'sandwich generation' bites again.

Both Miles and Hermione have become much more relaxed in their own company. They were both reasonably happy doing their own thing before but seem to find greater pleasure in their own pursuits now and for much longer periods of time too. Whats more I've become a lot more comfortable with it. I've stopped being an 'in yer face' mother and I think that's a good thing.

I've concluded that it's time to quit feeling guilty about the time I do spend in the vegetable garden and playing with wool. By being occupied with other things of late I've given my children the opportunity to develop sufficient curiosity and imagination to spend more time creatively alone. I think that to know you can be alone with yourself and take pleasure from those moments is a real blessing in life. I'm so pleased I've had a 'lights on moment' about this. I feel that weight has been lifted from me and we can carry on living life together yet apart, a life with a very special quality indeed.