Thursday, December 02, 2010

When I realised that today was going to be another 'snow day' I lay in bed wondering what to do with it.

How would I like it to be. If I were visualising a normal but perfect day what would it look like.

It would start with 45 minutes of Yoga - so I got out of bed and did 45 minutes of yoga - badly and slowly but we have to start somewhere.

I would have breakfast -

So I had breakfast - porridge with cranberries and agave syrup and a mug of ginger tea.

I would settle down in the office and mindfully prepare for Saturdays antenatal class. I would consider the concepts, tune in and consider the four hours time we will spend together.

At 10.30 I would pause for tea and a mince pie and a read of my book.

At 11.00 back to work until 12.30.

Since we moved I haven't had much opportunity to explore the neighbourhood. I am intrigued by a snicket so I would go for a walk and explore that snicket.

I've been for my walk - discovered some allotments and an intriguing and impressive set of iron gates and more paths to explore.

Home again I would have a bowl of warming soup.

The afternoon I would snooze, knit and watch a film before cooking dinner.

.....and that is exactly how I've spent my day - my body and mind are exercised, my soul is nurtured and the knitting has got some attention - sounds ordinarily perfect to me.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Our Schooled Life

School - it has been one of the most challenging experiences in my life.

I devour stories about unschooled adventures with envy and lust.

My very limited understanding of unschooling is that it's all about the child following their needs and wants - finding their rhythm and finding their 'thing' - it is about the child being at the centre of their learning.

This has been the problem - we placed Calum at the centre of his learning from day one. We have been guided, supported and nurtured by him every step of the way. In turn we've guided, supported and nurtured him.

Learning for Calum has included school - he has chosen to go to school. At every step of the way he has made choices about where to go to school, what schools to go to, what to study and how hard to study.

He has learnt well. He has had some amazing teachers. He has had some fantastic experiences. Our family's ideologies have been challenged - he has gone within and speaks his own truth. It's not always the same as ours - he is far wiser than I shall ever be.

As we approach GSCEs and talk turns towards A Levels I realise that my 26 years of struggling with the school system is almost over. I reflect that this has been my struggle and not Calum's. We challenged his decision to go to school a couple of years ago when we were very unhappy with the bigger picture and how that was influencing him. A few visits to Findhorn sorted that out and school has continued to be a large (and expensive) part of our lives.

Yes I would have loved to have had unschooled adventures with Calum - but you know what, he found his own rhythm, his 'thing' and all is well - all is very well.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Creating a Home

It's been almost three weeks since we packed up and shifted a couple of miles. After four days all the boxes were unpacked and our stuff was settling into the new places in which it lived.

I've been pondering what makes a home - where are those places that nurture our family and ourselves?

The morning light hitting the kitchen door - beautiful. I bought the house a present when we moved in - you can see it in the left of the picture - a print from one of my favourite artists Jaine Rose. I'm delighted that in the few years since I first saw her work a wonderful gallery of prints and cards has appeared - check them out they make wonderful housewarming/anytime presents.

This is a corner in my kitchen - it may be my favourite corner in the house. I don't much care for fitted kitchens and I am delighted that this home has only a few fitted cupboards. My beautiful dresser with some of my favourite things on it - an old bakerlite toast rack (granny's), my favourite wine glasses, Angel cards, fruit bowl. The rocking chair was once sat in by my husbands Nan. I am reading a wonderful book at the moment - Sacred House - where women weave words into the earth by Carolyn Hillyer. In it there is a fragment called chair....

"There was a chair beside a stove that became a basket in which to collect old stories. As people passed through the kitchen they liked to settle back into its cushions, take up a large mug of tea (or possibly a small glass of ginger wine) and set the runners rocking while they pour out their many tales................."

Kitchen shelves - elder rob, tea, oats, cranberres, cookbook, herb book - just stuff.

It's all just stuff - but for me it's the difference between a house and a welcoming and nurturing home. The pot is warmed, the hearth fire is lit and the rocking chair is waiting to hear stories.

Monday, October 25, 2010


I accidentally listened to a radio programme today that was discussing foraging. I was shocked and amazed at some of the comments and I've spent a couple of hours mulling over what I heard.

I think foraging is great - I get great satisfaction from going out and about finding food, taking just what I need, thanking nature and going home to prepare food for my family.

I was amazed by many of the negative comments on the radio show in partiuclar the one that implied it wasn't 'natural' and that it's bad for the planet and we should go to the supermarket to get our food!!!!

I've looked at the website for the radio show which said about the show "and the National Trust says that foragers are wrecking the ecosystem."

So I've googled "National Trust and foraging" and what they actually said in the news report from Oct 20th was "There are various codes of conduct for pickers of wild mushrooms and other such produce, the first of which was published in 1998 by Natural England. These typically call on people to act responsibly, show restraint and leave some fungi, fruit or foliage behind.

"These were developed in response to fears that over-picking might harm woodlands and wildlife."

I'm not sure the average forager is that irresponsible and Mother Nature is amazing and far more robust than Natural England is giving her credit for.

So grab a cup of tea and check out Fergus the Forager . Go and see Heart & Soil to buy a beautiful foraging basket Then wrap up warmly and go foraging.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


We are moving home.

Exactly 12 months after our last move we are putting our stuff in boxes, bags, vans and cars to turn another house into our home.

Last year when we moved it was a significant downsize and we gave so much stuff to Oxfam that our annual giving report they send so you can put a value on your altruism made me feel guilty. Guilty that we had acquired so much stuff.

So it starts again

Those boxes are full of books. Another pile have gone to Oxfam this week and the ones that are left are those that when you pick them up your heart races. You turn it over, smell the pages. You sit down right where you are and flick through the pages. They go on a pile by the side of your chair. The read before packing pile.

My books aren't stuff. Husband's tools aren't stuff. My yarn and needles aren't stuff. Teenogre's stuff isn't stuff. It's our life. It's who we are. Without our stuff are we just empty shelves?

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

I am Bilingual

I spent Saturday in the company of a friend of mine - we went to the craft shop - scrapbooking, patchwork, knitting, needlework then on to the market and fish & chips by the canal in Skipton.

My friend is 70 and when she started knitting at age 6 it was out of necessity - she needed a jumper for school and there was no money to buy one. Her mother gave her a hand me down, told her to unravel the wool and showed her what to do and she has been doing it ever since. Except she hasn't - for the past 5 or 6 years there has been very little knitting. Until Saturday I hadn't really wondered why - I really wish I had because it's very simple - she no longer understands the language of knitting.

I had a pattern that I had downloaded from Ravelry and a skein of Mal Worsted. I wanted a pair of US10 Straight Knit Pros.

There is a wool shop at the end of my road - a mere five minute walk from my house. I have found it incredibly frustrating because it doesn't sell sock yarn, worsted, knit pros or Interweave Knits. They don't have a group on Ravelry nor a weekly knit night.

The Nutty Knitters have bemoaned this poor excuse for a wool shop for several years.

Not all knitters are bilingual - long live the Wool Shop.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


In the past 40 years I've learnt how to do a few things (in no particular order):
  • baking (cooking not so much)
  • being a mother (being a wife not so much, still learning that one)
  • driving
  • walking
  • talking
  • writing
  • reading
  • listening (still practicing this one)
  • knitting
  • making bobbin lace
  • sewing - embroidery, hardanger, crewel work (making clothes not so much)
  • touch typing
  • friendship ~ how to be a friend and the value of friends
There may be more. Over the years there are also skills I've learnt, used for a bit and then lost.

Many years ago I was a student at the North of England Higher Secretarial College. In the days when being a Secretary was a career in itself and something to be proud off we were taught not only touch typing and shorthand but the importance of keeping a black tie in your desk drawer (because your boss would always be a man!), how to get in and out of a car (yes we really did that) and other life skills. I will point out that this was 20 years ago - Thatcher telling us we could have it all whilst in quite classrooms all over England young women were being taught how to look after Men so they could do their jobs efficiently and effectively.

Over the years I've let my Shorthand skills lie dormant - I've never really had much use for them. However in my current job two colleagues use their shorthand all the time and I've found shortforms keep falling off my pencil.

My brain cells are firing up and we'll see how long it takes to get those skills back. I used to think in shorthand - maybe it's like being bilingual - this morning when I was walking the dog my thoughts were once again in shorthand - what fun!!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Some Days

Some days need to be written down. This was today:
  • I walked the dog for 2 hours before breakfast
  • I deep cleaned my home ~ this involved tidying up and moving a lot of furniture outside
  • Spoke to my Mother for the first time in 4 years ~ she rang me
  • Saw Calum and the Sax Trio perform at the Lascelles Unit Garden Party
  • Discovered someone had attempted to break into my home ~ they had kicked the cat flap in and see that ~ it's their blood smeared on the inside of the door, there's more on the outside.

Some days are more than enough................

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Leaving my seat in the Circle

Three and a half years ago I began training as an antenatal teacher. It's been an interesting journey and I am a more mindful, reflective, wise and tolerant woman for it.

I've met some amazing people who will be friends for life. I've written over 30,000 words, sat through over 350 hours of tutorials/workshops, done 4 assessed presentations, driven over 3,000 miles, laughed, cried and met 24 babies whose parents shared part of their journey with me.

I spent this weekend with some of the wisest, most nurturing, supportive and realistic women I know. As a tutorial group we have shared our stories, our tears, our love, our sadness and our inspiration.

It was my turn to move on ~ my turn to get up and leave my seat in the circle ~ in September another wise woman will complete that circle............................I wish her well.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Musician

Calum plays in wind ensembles, bands, trios and as a solo musician. Last night Soundbytes were playing at Harrogate Theatre ~ it was an excellent performance by 33 young musicians, mostly saxophones with percussion, keyboard and guitars. I am most proud.........

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hear what I Say

My friend Mel has had an epiphany

I chose the words I use carefully and I am often shocked about how careless others are with words. Sometimes it can be hard to understand what I say because I want the words to convey so much more than their literal meaning and I may miss other words out as I feel they detract from the sense of what I’m saying. Sometimes I think so much about what I want to say that I forget to say it but think that I have.

Recently I was at a workshop where for me the facilitators use of language was really challenging. I found myself responding to statements and questions only to be told “that’s not what I really meant”. I found this so frustrating especially as then I was the one in the ‘wrong’ because my behaviour wasn’t ‘empathic’. Anyway back to the point………………….

Mel I agree with you and I want to add another concept to the mix – positive language……

"We're not going home until you've had a wee"

could become

“Lets go home when you’ve had a wee”


“When you’ve had a wee we will go home”

Again a subtle shift but one for me is really, really useful. It’s amazing how much of our language is framed in the negative – I write so many emails and then go through them adding positive words to replace negative ones (can you think of the negative way I wrote that sentence the first time?).

I can be really esoteric about his. The universe hears the words we use and doesn’t have the time to differentiate between negative and positive.

Our house is on a road that is quite busy. When we park the car on the drive we reverse in so that we can get out safely. There are two gateposts and we have to drive the car in at quite a sharp angle so the van and the car fit on the drive.

When we moved my husband spent the first month saying “don’t hit the post”. He said this many, many times. The universe heard “hit the post” and kindly obliged. There is a nice big dent in the car to remind us how the universe listens.

Perhaps it would have been more useful (and less irritating) to say “angle the car through the gap” or “ that gap is a good size” or even “hit the space” (actually it would still have been irritating).

So Mel my challenge to you is to teach a whole class without using any negative phrases or words!!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lady Eleanor

I’ve recently finished a piece of knitting.

Since finishing it I have been stopped THREE times in the street by strangers who have told me how beautiful/warm/gorgeous it is. They almost fall over when I thank them and say I made it myself.

I have worn it every day for 10 days. It has been either around my neck, over my shoulders, on my lap and when I was away at the weekend on top of the duvet for extra warmth.

People look at the colours and seem to find different things to appeal ~ like jewels, autumnal, reminds me of spring ~ it has something for everyone.

I have never known an inanimate object create such a fuss.

As a large piece of knitting it took 18 months to complete. I wasn’t knitting entralac all that time. I chose an expensive yarn. Noro Silk Garden is a blend of mohair and silk with the colour changes in almost perfect rhythm with the entralac rectangles. Every few months I would buy another three or four balls and knit some more. Then it would return to the basket and wait its turn.

Amongst all the love shown to Lady Eleanor there has been one lone voice expressing concern. “I could never wear it………..I would be so worried in case I lost it. I’m always losing scarves and gloves………….aren’t you worried it will get dirty or damaged or lost?” I simply smiled because I know that Lady Eleanor is not just a scarf waiting for me to lose her ~ she and I we have history.

During the past 18 months she’s been to knit nights, tutorials and camping. She’s been to Wales for Christmas and moved house. She’s heard laughter and tears, arguments and making up. As I’ve knit I’ve listened to podcasts, my favourite music, saxophone practice and jamming guitars. I’ve watched TV, films and documentaries. I’ve imagined the places we’d go together to Findhorn, Glastonbury and a future far from here.

Lady Eleanor has become a dear friend and together we shall become all that we are meant to be.

Until then I’m very warm and toasty.