Tuesday, 27 March 2012

All day, every day

Oh the sun, the sun! It has been so deliciously sunny this past week that the boys and I have barely been home. Building dens in the woods, planting potatoes and seeds, long afternoons in the park...good times have been happening daily. I feel so busy that I need to remember to keep my feet on the ground.

We've got important 5yr old birthdays coming up - Eli's and many of his good friends, Easter celebrations and hopefully visits to grandparents. This active phase of the year feels so full! It also means that our poor old house is a neglected mess and our cupboards hold an odd and unappetising assortment of foodstuffs...

I have just received my first, very own, brand new DSLR. This is obviously hugely exciting and I'm hoping to get it working hard very soon. In the meantime I thought I'd share some old pictures of a jumper I finished knitting for Eli a couple of weeks ago...just in time for the sun...

 Long may these sunny, carefree days continue.   

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Eggs, fire and steep fields

Thanks to the wonderful woman pictured above, we celebrated the Spring Equinox with food, friends and fire. 

The terrain was pretty uneven and I worried that Monty might be a little frustrated at not being able to join the gaggle of bigger kids negotiating steep muddy banks and running feral. Unflustered, he sat and painted a number of eggs with quiet satisfaction.

The older kids were blissfully happy, allowed to roam free-range like the allotment chickens. So beautiful to watch them from a distance, totally absorbed in the magical business of childhood.  

Us adults were pretty happy too...sharing, laughing, loving and tending the fire...

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


Spurred on by the late afternoon sun, we had a lovely couple of hours at our half-allotment in the middle of last week. Our little plot is part of the very exciting Redacre community growing project, which I hope to be able to post more about as the growing season slowly kicks in. Last year I slowly and painstakingly dug over half of the scrubby, stony soil and pondered that with two children in tow, there must be an easier way...There is! I saw this video and decided permaculture was the way to go, or my version of it. So instead of digging, swearing and sweating I have merely forked over some manure, chucked on a load of straw and cardboard, and will be planting my potatoes on these un-dug beds.

The boys enjoyed rolling around in the straw for a time but soon found plenty to distract them on our neighbouring plots.

I managed to plant a couple of strawberry plants but have already lost their labels and so have no idea of the variety.

They also took full advantage of the climbing/swinging construction erected by our friend and Redacre director Phil, who built this death-trap whilst looking after several children and a dog.


And here is the frog that Eli told me I'd trodden on. The very thought made me feel rather odd so I denied it heartily.

Loving those long late afternoon shadows...

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Fresh air

This has been a bad winter and early spring for us, germ-wise. We seem to have had all manner of sniffles as well as the perma-cough that everyone around these parts seems to have suffered this year. As anyone with children will know - it is sheer misery when the whole family is ill. As a family with a complicated relationship with the TV, it's always tough to know how best to manage bouts of  lurgy. Obviously, I would prefer it if a more right-on version of super-nanny could sweep my children off and leave me to moan in peace, but as that's not usually an option I'm left to contemplate the path of least pain on my own. My general approach is to get us all out of the house. I know that perhaps this seems counter-intuitive but life outdoors with the boys is generally more peaceful than life indoors...so here's a round-up of what we've been doing whilst dealing with the bugs... 

We visited 'the Boo' - home to the 'Horse and Bamboo' puppet theatre company - to watch their adaptation of Red Riding Hood. The production was absolutely stunning, storytelling and artistry at its most engaging. We all absolutely loved it, grandparents and anxious little boys included.

There's been plenty of bike-riding, along the canal and through the park on this particular day - and there was blossom...

Lastly, we've been lamb-spotting. This little one, casually lounging in the sun, is the very first we've seen. There's something primal about lambing season, the cycle of life, death and rebirth so obviously on display. The wheel has certainly turned, growth and fertility are upon the land. 

Sunday, 11 March 2012


That is, sculpture and drama. The former was brought to us courtesy of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the latter courtesy of my children. I'm always interested in the nature of editing - either in a blog or in 'real life'. How much do we reveal to each other about our lives? It's so easy to for me to look at blogs that have chosen to conciously record the beautiful moments and feel uneasy about the less beautiful moments of my own life.

I'm often inclined towards a rather brutal form of honesty - perhaps sharing too many of my daily challenges with my other mothering friends. It feels like survival, get it all out into the open to prevent it from growing into something dark and ugly in a wee dusty corner of my psyche. But it occurs to me that there are those who choose to be more selective.

I'm still not sure which is healthier; bare your soul or present the edited highlights...these pictures tell a jolly story of frolicking in the sunshine, engaging with art in the outdoors...

And there was plenty of that...

But, there were also plenty of tears, frustration and anxiety. I believe that's the reality of life with children, at least for me.

By the way, I'd like to thank that lovely lady in the photographs, without whom there would have been much more of the above mentioned frustration and anxiety. Thanks Kath... 

Monday, 5 March 2012


Last Saturday evening, on an incredibly rare childless evening out, we adults attended a shadow puppet show created by my friend Liz Dever, called The Handless Maiden.
Liz adapted the story, created all the background visuals and puppets and performed the entire show with dialogue, song, puppetry and violin! It had been a long time in the dreaming and a long time in the making...

I'd spent some time with Liz the week before 'helping' the puppet mistress finalise her vision. There wasn't really much helping needed - even then, when Liz herself had been worried that everything wouldn't be ready by performance night - I'd been so impressed with what she had created. I felt so inspired by those couple of hours - being with someone immersed in their creative vision, having nurtured it and watched it grow for so long and anticipating its completion - was food for my own creative soul.

So thank you Liz for your bravery and determination, your gifts and your story. Can't wait for the next one...

Thursday, 1 March 2012


She's here! Spring in all her wonder made her grand entrance yesterday! I turned my face up to the sun, allowed the warmth to fully sink into my pores and was amazed yet again by the ability of spring to bring renewed strength and vigour. Sometimes at the final cough of winter, just before rounding the end of February corner, I worry that I will not make it. It's so hard sometimes to hold on to the knowledge of the healing power of our sun. I think many of us start to feel a heaviness in body or heart and wonder if it's a permanent state. More than once did I remind myself and others to be gentle with ourselves, to be mindful that months of darkness take their toll on our resources of energy and positivity. It's good to welcome those dark months but it's equally good to bid them farewell.

'Wowjers' Monty exclaimed as we walked  out to see our narcissus glowing with light. I couldn't have put it better myself little one.

I'm hoping that this beautiful sun-filled day will be the first of many...