Monday, 30 December 2013

Itchy feet

I'm getting itchy feet!!!!

For weeks now I have been feeling a little like a Spring bulb, waiting patiently for Spring to arrive when I can split my skin and quite literally burst out of my clothes and fly. For two years now I have been putting roots out, grabbing hold of the safety that is all around me, staying with the known and secure. But now my wings feel strong, I'm ready to take flight and engage in some serious adventure.

For the past year I have been thinking that such an adventure needs to be shared with a significant other and without looking I have attracted potential suitors but as yet none has truly shared my vision and rather then click in perfect harmony, I have found myself shying away from the true 'me' and compromising myself. Goodness no!!
I have never been a selfish person (to my knowledge) but at this moment in time I am being selfish with myself and not wishing to share my dreams at the expense of jeopardising them. That isn't to say that I don't wish to share my thoughts with you all. They say that if you want something enough then you are driven to make it happen - believe me guys this really is true. About three years ago I wrote a little list (actually it was quite a long one) of all the things I would like to do with my life. I have to admit to thinking that the idea was completely bonkers at the time, but nether the less I did as my friend suggested and wrote that list. When I found it at the beginning of the Summer, I had almost achieved all of those dreams, some of them were quite unlikely to happen (or so it seemed at the time). I've since written another list which I have lost, but I'm hoping that when I find it I will have a similar tale to tell. Try it and let me know what happens..........:-)

Anyway, back to those itchy feet........
My main topic of nuttiness is that I aspire to build a house. I know that is a pretty potty idea to say the least especially when I don't have the foggiest idea about house building, but here comes the really crazy bit.....I want to build it out of recycled building materials.
Yes I know what you are all thinking and in many ways I also wonder about my own sanity but when you have a dream you find yourself absorbing information, researching, asking questions and driving all your friends mad in the process until that dream becomes a reality and anyone who knows me well will know what I am like when I am passionate about something :-)

17 years ago (when I was only 24) I opened my own nursery school. The seed was planted when I was 21 and took three years to germinate and become a reality, three years of creating materials, researching, training and talking to the extent of boring everyone until my dream became a reality.
I frequently stopped in my track and did reality checks and had many serious moments of doubt as to whether I was literally barking up the wrong tree! But as I proved to myself on that occasion, if you want something enough, you will make it happen.

So many months into my house building dream I wonder how I am going to build a house on my own? How will I source the materials and buy the land? A recycled house won't fit in in an urban housing estate! What about building regs? I know nothing about these......but I'm researching and talking to people. This year (sorry next, see how desperate I am to burst into the new year!!), I'm planning to go on a Straw bale building course. Straw is a very viable building source and creates a rather rustic home, pretty cheap too. It's just a thought, my ideal house will be free or cost very little.
The question of where has not yet been decided, land is scarce around here and very expensive. Various other options keep creeping into my mind:- converting a double decker bus or a horse box, thus avoiding planning permission altogether. I've even thought of buying an old church or village hall and converting that. I enjoy camping and have lived in a derelict cottage (really derelict) before so am not phased by the idea of building an indoor camp in the corner of a hall or such like. I'm thinking aloud now!!

So examining what my issues are, I think I'm feeling a sense of adventure that is restricted by living in a house. I know I feel bothered by having to pay rent on a house having lived rent free for so many years prior to 2011. Don't get me wrong, I live in a lovely little cottage and I'm very happy here. It's the perfect community setting and very safe for the children, but we are home schooling so are not bound to a school and I'm not bound to a job, my work can travel with me so I feel I really should be getting out there and making the most of our freedom.

I've shared enough for now, off to do some more research............xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Twas the night before Christmas.........

So finally we have made it to Christmas eve. This year, I was determined (was sure) to be organised for the big day. Early on that was the case and then somehow I seemed to slip into a downhill spiral of complacency and before I know it I'm back to the usual mad (frantic) rush trying to get everything done.
Christmas eve is always a time for making and handing out last minute gifts to friends and neighbours and usually my annual Christmas eve picnic. This year my lack of organisation meant I had to buy last minute gifts on Christmas eve AND make those delicious truffles for the neighbours. I love doing these things but do sometimes question why I put myself through such chaos?

Christmas in never complete without attending a carol service of sorts. This year after much debating we went to our local crib service. We've been attending crib services for years with the children and they make for a lovely start to the festive period. This year however, the children made it quite clear that they were NOT going to participate in the nativity building which often requires them to dress up or carry a character on a journey to Bethlehem (or the front of the church to us).
This year, the vicar's wife began handing out knitted characters....they were beautifully handmade and colourful, I felt myself longing to have one to hold and admire. So as she neared the rear of the church where we were sitting I looked smiling to the children only to find that two out of three children were hiding quite literally UNDER the pew and the third had made herself almost invisible in the corner, hmmmmmm!!
Well the knitted king was handed to me in the hope that willing may be shown and almost immediately Small Boy emerged from his hiding place to admire the character. A secret smile swept over me knowing deep down that he would be part of this annual ritual. The vicar's wife read her story and little children from all over the church bravely walked to the front carrying their figures.....when it came to the kings, Small Boy took my hand and said 'Come on Mum'. Sitting ahead of him in the pew I had to lead the sooner had I got through the door of the old box pews he shut the door behind me and cheekily waved at me saying 'Bye bye Mummy'!! Oh dear, between them they had done to me what I have previously done to them, I walked up to the nativity scene (the only adult to do so) to place my figure.
Perhaps we've outgrown the crib service!!

So back home for dinner and the other 300+ jobs I had left to do (or so it seemed), all to be tackled at once, last minute gift wrapping, cooking food for tomorrow, games to find la la la

For what?

So what is Christmas to you? What is it that makes you happy?
A fancy gift?, A break from routine? Time spent with family?

In our house we don't 'do' Father Christmas. If you look through my posts from last year you'll discover my reasoning. However, one Small Boy still likes to imagine what it might be like if FC were to be real. Last night when I put him to bed he was wielding a piece of rope, I questioned him 'What are you doing'? 'Ha ha' he giggled 'I'm going to trap Santa!! Hmmmmm, that boy's mind works over time really it does. When I finally got to bed, I actually laughed out loud to see a cross made from rope on his radiator and a line up of six guns all facing the door.......good job the poor fellow is just fictional, might have had to resuscitate him if he were for real!!

So I realise we are all on a journey, a journey of discovery. During our travels we have to constantly examine our pathways, sometimes that means facing change. Look a change as a positive step even though it may sometimes seem sad or daunting. Change is healthy and is necessary in order for us to grow as individuals. Water becomes stagnant if it doesn't change and flow, we are similar.

Enjoy the festive period and be open to change.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Freed...... Nelson Mandela

Everyone has been talking about poor Mandela today who died last night at the age of 95.
What an amazing age for a truly amazing man. A man who changed the way we view black people forever.
A man who endured a torturous 26 years behind bars for his beliefs and his unstoppable fight for equality.

In a past life 19 years ago, I worked for a family whose grandfather was at the time Lord Mayor of London. I was a nanny to two lovely little boys at the time. As a result of the children's grandfather being Lord Mayor, the family had to attend many formal events in London at the Mansion house.
Until that point, I had only briefly associated Mansion House with a stop on the tube. The Mansion House is in fact the house where the Lord Mayor resides during his time in duty which is incidentally a whole year.
When I took the job, I was informed of the likelihood that the grandfather would be taking this role but had no idea what it entailed. Well, what a fabulous year lay ahead......

The year began with the Lord Mayor's show. That in itself was a fabulous day. I cannot until that point ever recalling having paid the slightest bit of interest in the event, I didn't even know it existed.
As nanny to the grandchildren, it was within my duty to accompany the family to such events.
I had to stay at the Mansion House (what a drudge!!), had my own room with huge drapes at the windows and a huge luxury bathroom, I even had staff looking after me and the children. Initially, I made full use of the service they provided....'room service....' but it didn't take long for me to step back and return to the ground. Fun for a while but really not me.
Anyway, the show was fabulous and myself and the children got treated like royalty. I recall taking the children to the zoo for the morning to keep them occupied and then having to get back to the Mansion House when the crowds had started forming. Everywhere was fenced off so I had to call on the service of a friendly policeman to escort me through the fencing and across the road which was inaccessible to everyone else, we felt very important!
I even got to stand on the balcony with the likes of the PM and Duchess of Gloucester (not that I knew who she was back then either).

Anyway, one totally amazing and unforgettable thing that did come out of that year was this..... 
One evening, whilst a state function was taking place within one of the very grand ballrooms, I was wandering around with the children when I heard through the grapevine that Nelson Mandela was in attendance and was staying at the house. Well, you can imagine the excitement to know that someone of his importance was within the same building, I just had to get a glance....just a glance. So, I crept up onto a balcony that surrounded the ballroom off which Mr Mandela's room was located and sat and waited. Sitting quietly with two children aged 2 and 4 at the time, was no easy feat. There he was, Mr Mandela with his wife walked across the ballroom. He must have heard us because he looked up and when he saw us he beckoned us down. We were so very lucky that evening, we actually got to go into his suit and meet him. We shook his hand and spoke to him for a while.
What a lovely man and what a privilege to have had the opportunity to have met him.

Nelson Mandela is now free.....God bless him.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

A snugly night in.....

We had one of those lovely evenings last night that you dream of when you think of Winter. All in by 4pm, curtains closed, woolly slippers on, snugly layers wrapping us up....we lit the fire, actually Small Boy lit the fire. He may be only six, but he's learnt a lot and as the man of the house takes good care of us girlie's (well, when he's not beating us or yelling abuse our way!!). So we all sat there cosied up in the sitting room and we were busy....busy little bunnies working away on our own projects yet at the same time chatting away about lovely things. The Little Lady sat sewing at the machine, taking it in turns with Miss P, they were creating dolly quilts one minute then little drawer string bags the next, I had my own sewing project on hand, (quite busy now :-)) and Small Boy created a whole army of vehicles with his Lego. Nobody was fighting or bickering and the whole room was filled with a gentle loving hum.........I smiled to myself secretly, 'this is what's life is all about'. Sitting with those whom you love most in the world sharing stories in a cosy warm atmosphere.
I didn't have much of a will to leave such homegrown loveliness to make the dinner, nor to take the Little Lady to Brownies, nor to go out and we decided that we'd do none of those things. I did of course feed the little darlings.....a simple baked potato is perfect for those occasions when no effort is required and I can virtually guarantee that the Small's won't turn there noses up and echo in unison 'Yuck!!! We're not eating that'!! All round winner really and the smell of baking potatoes as it wafts into the room is arrrr, mmmmmmm....simply divine :-)

Small Boy felt a little peckish whilst waiting and proceeded to roast us all some chestnuts on the shovel. The fireside shovel works quite well as a mini hot plate. You just give the little darlings a little prick with the knife, pop them on the shovel and rest them on a glowing area of hot embers. They take about 6 or 7 minutes to cook (with a quick turn in the middle). Best to leave them to cool for a few minutes before attempting to peel them as they do retain their heat and 'ouchy oooh', burnt fingers is no laughing matter! As with most things these days Small Boy hatched out a plan and  had on-hand a cup of cold water to cool the chestnuts after cooking to enable peeling to take place almost immediately. (I'm really relying on this chap to support me in old age although fear that the vast majority of his plans involve hunting poor innocent animals - no bunny hunting mentioned last night though :-)).

All of my adult life I have been lucky enough to live in houses with open fires or wood burning stoves. So many happy times are spent by the hearth playing games, snuggling up and chatting and simply being there watching the flickering flames licking round the logs.
The fire is such an important part of us human folk, think of it as the soul of our being. I was reading a section of a book recently that I have been reading for several years. It's one of many that form a pile next to my bed. I like to tuck into the pages from the comfort of the underside of my duvet and absorb myself in its contents. One night recently I was reading a chapter of 'Women who run with the wolves'. I had read most of the chapter without realising it and without taking in any of the contents, when suddenly the words '40 year old woman' jumped from the text at me, at which point I began to pay attention. It was talking about me. Do you ever get that when something is on your mind and you happen upon something that suddenly snaps you into existence and brings you to attention? Well on this occasion the reference seemed to apply to me. It was a stark wake up call that told me that I, as a sweet, caring, giving, loving person was giving all to everyone else and they as a result are zapping me and stopping me from getting to the that revelation had me pondering for hours, in fact it's been a couple of weeks now. It's tough to change when you are the sort of person who always puts the needs of others first, but sometimes it is important to take note of your own needs and make quite certain that they are being met, after all, a good fire needs stoking sometimes and it's not always those that are closest to it that notice that it's dying down.

*Note to self noted ;-)

Small Boy testing the melting point of chocolate (out of date chocolate may I add, destined for mouse bait...although clearly not this time!)

Walking the wolf (the genetic make up of a dog is 99% the same as a wolf....check out the shadow!!)

Have a lovely weekend xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Memories last a life time......

On this day precisely two years ago my sole mate, best friend, husband and partner of 19 years, made the shock decision to depart earth side.

Life was good, we had it all, we counted our blessings frequently.......

Life is short, you never know what lies around the corner.

We all have paths to walk, decisions to make, roads to cross, every hour, every minute, every second of every day. How we make those decisions and live those moments is largely down to us. When life deals us lemons we can screw up our faces and allow our journey to turn sour or we can make the most of what we have been blessed with and make lemonade.

I have learnt many lessons since that terrible day two years ago, many lessons that have shaped my life and influenced me greatly in the way that I live it.

* Be grateful for the good that envelopes you even if it feels like times are hard. There are always others for whom life is more challenging.

* Always remember to tell those whom you love how much you love them, never take them for granted.

* Someone who loves you unconditionally is worth holding onto, they are few and far between.

* Being single isn't actually that bad :-) it certainly isn't worth giving up for empty time wasting relationships. When you've  experienced the best, second best simply won't do!

* The words and advice of love ones past remains in place to guide you on your journey.

* Having lost someone close doesn't mean you aren't allowed to have fun and laugh. Laughter is therapy......

* Be positive. Positive is a step forwards, negative means going backwards.....

Love, laugh, dance, live........

Memories last a life time :-) treasure them!


Sunday, 17 November 2013


What a busy couple of weeks we've case you didn't know this week my eldest daughter, Miss P became a teenager. It is simply beyond me how quick the time has gone since she was just a twinkle in her father and my eyes (a big twinkle at that).
I remember well the exact moment in which she was conceived (Oh yes!!! Don't worry won't share anything too graphic here!!) and the dreaded moment when I had to tell my father that I was pregnant....well it was all too obvious at that point that I was actually admitting to having had sex. I was 27 and had been with Tim for 7 years so it was probably quite obvious that such an act may have taken place but this was my first real confession. I also remember attending the antenatal clinic for the first time at 16 weeks and feeling like I had been a naughty girl!!
You'll be glad to hear that I am over such embarrassment now and three children on, consider myself 'old school' in the field of parenting. However, having a teenager some how makes me feel slightly old too. I look at my 'not so little' girl now and realise that she is becoming a young woman and with that her needs are changing. She is no longer so dependent on me in the same way. I'd like to think that we are friends and that she feels that she can talk and confide in me on any subject...let's see what happens.....

                                                          Out for a birthday treat
The Oxford Mail contacted us a little over a week ago to see if Miss P would like to be part of their Armistice day feature. Miss P (Poppy) was born on the 11/11 and obviously her name is significant. Having said that, she wasn't named Poppy due to being born on that day, it was just a name that we both liked.
They printed a lovely picture of her in three of their sister papers including half of the front page of The Oxford Times! What a lovely surprise. Thank you all for your lovely comments :-)

This birthday has been eagerly awaited and planning has been silently (and not so silently) been going on in the background for months...probably since the last birthday!
When the day arrived, Miss P still trundled into my room first thing to wake me insisting that I watch her opening her presents. I am always so tired in the Winter months and a rude 7am awakening is almost painful....but you have to show enthusiasm on such occasions, so from the comfort of my cosy bed, one eye open although mentally still away in Fairyland, I watched the whole procedure.
My gift was a pair of glossy, bright pink DM's......hehe.....tiny little legs with giant pink boots!!...They're pretty cool really!
The sharing of gifts always makes me chuckle. I've always brought the children up to feel it's OK to make gifts yourself, and it is the process of giving and the thought that is involved that is important. This year The Little Lady gave Miss P one of her handbags that Miss P particularly likes, on loan for two years!! Children are so funny!
To me entering the teenage years marks the official start of adolescence (although obvious signs can in reality begin much earlier), the period of change and growth that marks the journey from childhood to adulthood. The developing young person frequently resorts from one state (that of childhood) to another (adulthood) during this time of transition. I am glad that this year out family birthday traditions of balloons on the birthday person's chair and the setting of the birthday ring on the table, were still accepted and appreciated. I too have them out when it is my birthday, so let's hope that such traditions will remain alive and practised.

Last night was my lovely teenager's birthday party. An obvious sign of change was the fact that I didn't have to painstakingly plan out an amazing birthday party as has previously been expected (the world of birthday parties is really quite an eye opener as many of you will know. For me I have a reputation to uphold as I have given quite a lot of time and attention to such matters over the past years and have come up with some great ideas. I still have The Little Lady and Small Boy to keep the tradition going). Miss P planned out the whole event by herself including making invitations, planning games, writing a food list etc....of course I still had to cook the stuff and wait on her and her guests .....and clean up grrrrrr....(look forwards to the day when she takes over that bit too :-) although imagine it may be many years off yet!!).
Such a gathering of girls was the perfect opportunity for one Small Boy to create havoc, however, on this very rare occasion he managed to keep his horns under control and pretty much left the ladies to their socialising!
I found myself redundant by 9pm last night, so pootled off to bed to the sound of laughter and banging from downstairs *(the banging being the girls apparently jumping around in their sleeping bags pretending to be giant caterpillars!!!)...

This was our first attempt at using roll-on icing....well the cake itself wasn't straight which didn't help! The butterflies were 3D stickers....

All is quiet as I speak, the house resumes a state of calm (sort of) and my family unit is once again just us....until next year!!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Making the most of it....

Ummmm I have to admit finally that you were all's difficult to admit that, but there you are, you heard it straight from me, the time has come......

Last night my beloved Emerald died.

Don't worry nothing too tragic in the scheme of things, Emerald is my car!
When you live on a country estate with pot-holed roads on all approaches and have three wild children and a dog that likes the position of co-pilot, okay and if you're Me and you are always leaving things until the very last minute which means that you always have to race to make places and appointments on time, then eventually you may well call it a day.
Emerald has been our trustworthy and reliable (oh so reliable) friend for the past seven years, she hasn't let me down once, until last night, and even then whilst struggling for that last breath of life she ensured that Miss P and I made it into Chipping Norton and back safely. Good job too I'd say as our raincoats weren't in the boot!

For the past two years I have neglected my poor car...failed her on servicing and cleaning, she's been more of a mobile skip then a chariot of the finest kind. Her manual locking system failed as a result of my leaving her to dog sit the pooch last Christmas, her screen wash pump had a heart attack when it was expected to clean vast amounts of mud from the screen, her bushes brushed off the anti-roll bar, due to all my off road rally driving and recently her belly pan was ripped from her midst as I reversed off a curb I'd mounted (twice)....poor poor Emerald.
So last night my faithful car could take the strain of family life no more, she bumped and jolted a little in her final hours and struggled with those final wheel turns to bring us back at a steady 20mph (5 uphill and a super fast 35 down)! I had no idea she had an inbuilt 'make it home mode' which I later discover is 'Limp it home mode'........I knew I could depend on her.

This morning I set about trying to resuscitate her, thought I'd give her a little TLC in the form of a cable wiggle and some tender words. She growled a little, I guess a sign that her aches are still present :-(
The words Mr Smith are on the tip of my tongue....

Luckily my lovely friends managed to pick us up today and take us out for a session of willow weaving and chit chat....not sure any of us anticipated that the creations we made would mean we had to travel back in two cars! Shall now have to think of a does one buy a car when you live two miles from the nearest road and have no car to drive to the nearest garage? ( roller skates, bikes, skateboards, hitch it...........) as all aways comes right in the end, I have nothing to worry about!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Remembering me....

Hello, welcome....oh it's you, yes it's me.......I have finally found myself!!

Term time is always so hectic what with children's stuff and more children's stuff, Me really doesn't get much time or attention. For a certain length of time that's fine but after many months of 'no Me', Me gets some-what frustrated and wants to crawl out of it's pile of clutter and stuff that's weighing it down and shout from the top of its lungs 'Hey, don't forget Me', sometimes as a result of all this busy time Me gets stressed or worse still sick, enough is enough, Me is resurfacing.....Yeah, she's made it to the top of the pile!!!!

This evening my lovely neighbour announced that she had bought a ticket for  Small Boy to go to the local Monster's Ball. Oh course he was delighted! A moment of 'he can go as himself' curtained my thoughts but in true 'Me' style I quickly drew that aside and toddled off to find him an outfit in the depths of our costume basket. Actually I tell a lie there, I delegated the task to Miss P so that I could quickly tidy the house. Me was thinking ahead to the hour or so I would be having 'alone' this evening! 'Alone'...that word has a bit of a ring to it.....aaaalllloonnnnnne.....hehe!
Well Miss P (as expected) came up with several options, the 'Monster dressing gown' or the reversible spider man costume (black side) with a Dracula cape......(mind works overtime and imagines Small boy's face painted up)....yes, that's just the ticket! Of course Miss P extended her delegated task and painted his face too......Ooooh pretty scary!
Upon departure my lovely neighbour asked the Little Lady if she would like to go too...she went as herself!
Just Miss P then, and the whole house to myself for one whole whole blissful hour....arrrr

People often comment about how exhausting it must be having the children around all the time. I can never really understand why people say that, I love having my children around, what spoils things and makes life hectic are the commitments that go with them. Without the rushing around, the children happily find their own entertainment and potter around quite happily for hours at a time, I really hardly know that they are there most of the time. So that leaves Me free to be Me.

I feel that with the time and freedom of the school holidays, I finally have the urge (really big urge) to create, it happens........ Those creative folk amongst you will know what it's like to have a sudden light bulb moment when an idea comes into your head and you feel the buzz of excitement. When I'm creating I truly feel alive.
I've recently knitted some new wrist warmers for the predicted very cold Winter. I had quite a lot of balls of scrumptious Jacob's wool. Real wool is soooo much warmer then the synthetic stuff that's out there, although it can be a little itchy. I could line them if they are very uncomfortable. I choose to live in rather old draughty houses, so these items of clothing are truly essential in the cooler months. I tend to literally live in them.

Secondly I have wanted to make a rag patchwork quilt, they are simple and beautiful (well if you make the right choices with your fabric then they are) and I haven't made one of such kind before so good reason to do so. My little mind wandered off into overdrive yesterday as I was thinking how I could earn a small living utilising my sewing skills and patchwork popped into my thought window. I could create patchwork quilts for individuals using old clothes (baby clothes etc), wouldn't that be a lovely idea? I tend to pass all my children's clothes on to friends and get immense pleasure from seeing their children wearing them, but I think it would have also been lovely to have a bed throw made out of tiny patches of each item to keep forever....something to think about. Anyway, the quilt is coming along nicely, just a little border needed to finish it off and make it just a tad larger. One of the downsides of buying small pieces of fabric when you see them is that if when your project of inspiration comes into fruition sometimes you run out of a particular fabric and so its size has to come to a halt, unless of course you can use your creative imagination to resolve the issue. On this occasion I ran out of the lovely green 'watermelon' fabric. So a large white border it is this space.....
Rag patchwork is really rather attractive. Unlike regular patch piecing you sew each little square together so that the hems are on show on the outside, then you give them a little snip or two and they naturally fray, looks jolly lovely if I do say so myself. Actually I am yet to wash this one but I think (hope) it will look lovely!
On this little number, I added the batting ( that's the stuffing for those who don't know) at the same time as sewing the squares together and I also quilted them with a quick cross on the machine. Normally I sew all of my quilts by hand but this little darling is all done by machine.

Back to my hour of 'child free' peace. Well, I had a little tinker here and pottered about there and looked in this basket and that and, Oh! I almost forgot to tell you about my Acorn Coffee........naa I'll leave that for another time.....

Friday, 11 October 2013

The sewing circle

Many moons ago a group of friends and I set up a little sewing circle which grew into a quite large sewing circle. We were pioneers of our time back then (six or so years ago). Every fortnight us creative folk all of  a similar age, would meet up in someones house for a few hours of unadulterated crafting and nourishment in the form of cakes and hot drinks (sometimes wine ;-)). We created a host of wonderful things from lavender bags, quilts, jumpers, toys to scarves that seemed to go on
forever.....quite literally!!!!
But those sewing evenings of crafting were not just about creating beautiful things, they were also about sharing friendship and a sense of sacred womanhood. We shared stories and experiences, we gained an education in many ways too, we put the world to right. So often in this day of modern living where we all communicate through our computers and mobile phones, we lose the art of togetherness, the feeling of real friendship and belonging, we have removed ourselves from what is reality in many ways (or is this new formed life that we have created the new reality?)

The days of that original sewing circle are over, we've all moved on and our busy schedules just don't seem to accommodate such arranged moments of loveliness in the same way anymore. Crafting has once again become a 'secular' pass time to be carried out in the space of ones own home when a snippet of time permits (or in my case, en route, whilst the children have activities).

Yesterday at our home school gathering, I ran a patchwork workshop. I carefully selected a pretty bundle of delightful fabrics to enable a group of children to make a pretty sampler to take home. Once you can make a sampler and know the process for assembly you are well equipped with the skills necessary to make a whole beautiful bed quilt, a treasure to be used and admired for years to come.
The session went well yesterday, although an interesting point to note was NOT that the children all went away really inspired...oh no....only a small handful of children took part. It was the adults that crowded round the table and formed the 'Sewing Circle'.
Today I met with one of the participants of that group and she couldn't express enough how much she enjoyed being a part of that sacred circle. That small sampler will have carried with it several stories and a memory of friendship for years to come.

I have started to use my sewing skills to make an income in the past year. Things began very slowly with just a little work through word of mouth, but with a couple of adverts placed locally things are beginning to take off. The need for community is becoming all too apparent through that too with clients filling me in on their life's events, it's rather lovely really. It gives each project a sense of meaning. Every little job carries a story...the curtains to stop nosey passers by peering in, the wicker crib that has been passed through the generations that needs relining for a new arrival, the name labels that require sewing on the child's uniform in preparation for a new school.

With the cold weather forcing us into our homes early and the dark evenings drawing in, I think it's time to reconsider that 'Sewing Circle' and invite some friends round for an evening of inspiration!


Thursday, 19 September 2013

Wet, windy Sunday

8am....Woken by beastly dog scratching doormat and wining for neighbours dog who awaits her on other side. Arise from bed in sleepy state and open door for dog to shoot past at rocket speed to join her friend. Bonkers I know that dog has social life too!

8am on a cold, less than lovely Sunday morning? Goodness! An extra ten minutes of warmth from my super squidgy feather duvet needed.

9.10am Ten minutes inevitably turns into an hour and ten minutes!!! Gently ease self out of bed noting slight ache in shoulders from yesterdays adult contemporary dance class, then reality of time kicks in and find self resorting to autopilot rushing round like mad thing trying to get children organised for swim class due to start at 11am.

10.20am Kids still watching morning T.V in pyjamas oblivious to urgent need to get out of door in ten minutes time. Usually calm gentle mother resorts to ogre in attempt to hurry things up!

10.50am Arrive at pool with ten minutes to spare before start of lesson thus allowing small boy time to play in pool. Pool unusually cold this morning and random children plus small boy set on splashing me.....grrrr!
Decide to swim in frozen pool dodging endless kids with giant floats who splash and get in way....

11.15am Carefully climb out of pool (due to precarious ill-fitting swimsuit) to beat mad rush of swimmers to showers. Weekly swimming has become forced drudgery on self in order to treat self to lovely warm shower as reward. Shower ensures hair gets thorough clean and is freed from shampoo residue. No shower at home!

12.30pm Arrive at Ditchley Estate office to do weekly clean. For once kids in 'helping mode' so job gets done at breakneck speed.

1pm Arrive home and cook suggested toasted cheese and onion sandwiches for lunch, remind self that I love sandwich toaster!!

2pm Client arrives with items to sew requesting collection before tomorrow...that means today.....

2.30pm Cleaning up of kitchen complete, mountain of school clothes examined for attachment of name tags.

3.30pm Sewing complete, kitchen calls domestic creativity to feed forever hungry children who having only just eaten lunch are already enquiring about dinner.....
Decide on creating pizzas so set to work with help of Small Boy to make dough. Opt to allow Boy to weigh and stir mixture and me to do handling...note boys ever dirty fingernails!

4pm Third time of asking finally get a child to take pizza dough to airing cupboard to rise whilst set about tidying up for third time today.

4.30pm Rather liking moment of being domestic goddess so remain in kitchen to create further delights. Whip up batch of cheese straws and large vat of apples for stewing, then proceed to tie up large pile of lavender that has adorned kitchen table for past two days. Miss P and the Little Lady happily play Miss P's homemade 'Petopoly' game....after ten minutes of peaceful play, loud shrieks are heard as Small Boy makes jumping over the board a game! Gently close kitchen door to block out noise....

5pm Client returns to collect named school clothes and is ever grateful for rapid service :-)

5.30pm Pizza dough is removed from airing cupboard and children re-enter kitchen en-mass to create their own masterpiece. Am amazed as always how creative one can be with pizza design. Little Lady creates run-of-the-mill pizza for me and I use half of dough to make large pizza for another day. Feeling proud of self and rather well organised to think ahead to another day!

6.15pm Main of cheese straws have mysteriously disappeared from plate and pizzas are nicely cooked. Always thrilled at how children eat what they make!

8pm After final clear up and nagging children to get into Pj's all sit down in front of snug fire to watch X Factor. Oooh continue sewing.....

9.15pm Two thirds of Smalls safely tucked up in bed clutching hot water bottles. Find self falling into deep cushions of sofa finally having moment to relax.
Arrrr, thank you wet, windy Sunday I've had a lovely day :-)


Monday, 9 September 2013

Supermarket no no

It's Monday morning and my alarm tinkled away at usual for me I hit the 'dismiss' button and slipped back to the land of the faeries for ten minutes which inevitably ends up being at least another hour. I can do that (and frequently do) as I don't have any school runs to do. My first moment of serious engagement for today is not until 10.30. The children are quite capable of entertaining themselves and cobbling together some breakfast whilst I relax and take in some well earned moments of peaceful slumber. Finally I have reached the stage where they don't depend on me or indeed rely on me, 'quite' so much, and it's wonderful!
Having drifted back off back to my rather comical dream that is far too 'for my knowledge only' to share, I am woken ten minutes (OK, 20 minutes) later by the dog yapping at full pelt. My lovely friend the Riverford man is outside dropping off my weekly delivery of fresh organic vegetables.
Normally I just ignore his presence and allow the dog to bark for the ten minutes or so that he's fumbling about outside, but this morning The Little Lady called from downstairs that the Riverford man was here and knowing that my utility room is full of old boxes that need returning for reuse, I just jumped out of bed at speed, tripped down the stairs whilst trying to pull on a jacket blurry eyed, flung open the door and trundled of to lug the load of boxes back to the front door, just in time to greet Phil, the lovely driver with a welcome smile! Arrrr hope he didn't notice that I have only just woken up!!
I have been ordering my fruit and vegetables from Riverford for many years now, gosh thinking back it is many years and have pretty much had the same driver throughout. You form a good friendship with these folk (if you get up and talk to them). In the early days of having children, he would be one of the only people of might see in a week, a friendly, familiar face bringing nourishment to the door.
Even though I select my fruit and veg on line so know what's coming, it's still exciting when the box arrives. When you select 'cucumber' you don't know whether that will be one long one or two short ones, plums may be a variety of colours and sizes etc etc. It's a little like unwrapping a present! Oh dear, I'm beginning to sound terribly sad'll know exactly what I'm talking about it you receive a box too!
How life has changed over those years.......having spent the past two years as a single parent my financial circumstances have changed dramatically, I barely have any spare income at all if any, in fact my income is really rather pitiful, but it's enough, our maker always provides somehow to ensure that we have exactly what we need ('wants' have to go on the back burner). Even with a minimum income the optimum nourishment of my children is a top priority to me. I might be able to get organic vegs cheaper from the supermarket but then I am faced with the temptation of the offers and other delicious looking 'pull-ins' that increase my spending and don't necessarily nurture me and my children on the insides. At least with Riverford or my other little haunt Worton Farm, I have limited choices and all those that are on offer are wholesome and pretty pure. I could do all my shopping with Riverford alone and avoid the hustle and bustle of the supermarket day perhaps. Until that time I continue to order my food from Suma wholesale coop (as a cooperative of course) and Riverford.
My brief catch-ups with Phil don't last long, ten minutes is long enough to put the world right...for now :-)

Upon closing the door and glancing in the mirror, I notice yesterdays eye makeup smudged down under one eye and my hair looking rather like I'm about to audition for a rock band....hey ho!!

Enjoy your Monday xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

(One of) Oxfordshire's best kept secrets

When I was ten years old, I told a girl that I knew there was going to be a sleeping bag in the Guide jumble sale the following weekend that I desperately wanted to buy. That girl bought that sleeping bag before I got there!

Life's events teach you many lessons, I'm very selective now about what information that I share with people and of course who I share it with. You should be very honoured that I am about to share one of Oxfordshire's very best kept secrets......

This one is sooo worth sharing!

Some things just have to be shared simply because if we don't, then they may not keep going. If something is good and you like it then tell the world!

Anyway, enough of my ranting and waffling and straight to the subject I am referring to. Nestled away at the back of beyond, near the disused quarry in Kirtlington Oxfordshire and next to the canal, you will find the most quaint and quirky little tea room ever.

This place does not possess the squeaky clean appeal of your average tea room but that my friends is exactly the reason why this place is so enchanting and well worth a visit.
A distinctly unmatched collection of tables and chairs carefully positioned under canopies, gazebos and apple trees, form the perfect relaxing spot for devouring a delicious slice of homemade cake, or in my case  some scrumptious quiche with salad, to be washed down with some peppermint tea.
There's not a hint of plastic to be seen, everything is served on vintage china and from silver teapots and trays. This place really is something special to write home about!

This sign was on the toilet door....

The lady who set up this delightful little venture, purchased her canal side plot as wasteland some years ago, and has transformed what was a dumping ground for canal dredging, into a very productive small holding. She is indeed a woman of my own heart. I have lived the good life in many ways but has yet have still not managed full self sufficiency, (it's a lot of work!) At present I am further from that dream than ever before. But I can dream and sitting at the heart of the canal side retreat on Sunday, satisfied my craving and desire for the time being.
I sat with my food eating slowly and absorbing the true delights of my surroundings with every mouthful......


The hand painted signs at the gate, the old prams (I had one for the smalls), hanging vintage teacups, patchwork quilts covering the sofas (yes sofas in the garden!!), chickens and doves roaming, an old caravan (oh how I would love one of these to spruce up and have as my garden bolt hole)...hehe, this woman is sooooo like me....

You can find out more about Jane's little tea room here, seeing is definitely believing......

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Free your mind

This little blog has been held in my holding bay for several weeks as I struggled to master efficient uploading of all the beautiful photos that I snapped. As the weather is so rubbish today (damp and windy where I am), I thought I'd share some of our lovely adventures in Cornwall in July.


For weeks now I have been longing for a holiday, time to be free from the rigours of routine and the confinements of the house. Having said that things are always easier in the Summer months when the weather is warmer and your can leave your doors and windows open all day and feel the fresh breeze of the air circulating and sense the bright warm rays beaming in at different times of the day. Aaaaarrrr  find myself gazing into space at the mere thought of those dreamy days.......

Well a couple of months back I saw an advert in 'The Mother Magazine' (THE best parenting magazine that exists), for a caravan on a family site in Cornwall, £120 a week....well you can't go wrong for £120, can you?
I enquired straight away and got the ball rolling on a couple of potential dates and then before I knew it, my holiday was booked and upon us.
Well now, jet setting to a caravan in Cornwall with three children is quite an adventure as a single parent but not one to be deterred from, I mean, caravanning is quite a different experience from my usual tenting pursuits, tenting to me is camping, staying in a caravan is most certainly not :-)

It's four hours to where we were going in Cornwall, four long hours trying to concentrate on road signs and ensuring that you take the right junctions on and off the various motorways, four hours after a night out with friends until the small hours....four hours spotting Eddie Stobart lorries (did you know they all have names?) and REAL Dubbers (the old type VW camper vans), am I only only person who looks for these?

The excitement brews as the little people try to be the first to spot the sea, then there it is.......'It was me.......', 'No I saw it first......' Arrrrrrrhh

When I'm away with the children or out for the day, I do try to give myself to them completely. It's much easier when you are free from the distraction of the computer and the telephone, but oh it can be exhausting. I ended up in bed with the children at 9.30 each day playing 'In my holiday suitcase I packed....' and doing a back massage train......we did chuckle!

I do love being free from the safety of my home, free from my 'stuff', living the simple life with only the basics. You improvise often when in this situation and make do with little. Really makes you appreciate everything.
My first moment of improvisation was not being able to take the table off the wall at one end of the caravan to make a bed. (The table fits between the seats). One bed had been left set up for us so we all crammed in, it was cosy, but fun!!

There are sooo many adventures to be had in this country. Cornwall is especially good with lots of mystical, magical connections especially in the area we visited which was supposedly connected to the legendary story of King Arthur.
It is so easy to spend vast amount of money visiting tourist attractions,but there really are sooo many things that you can do for free that can be enjoyed by all the family, it just takes a little bit of imagination.

So where did we go? Well......

Pottering about on the beach was fun, there are always things to find, sandcastles to build, mud to squelch in and of course the sea to wade and swim in (if you're brave enough!)

Then there are pretty villages to walk round and seaside harbours to explore.....

The accomodation provides entertainment and adventure too!

Pasties to eat, crabs to catch and naughty seaguls who steal your bait but don't expect small boys to challenge them and win it back!!

Rocks to climb, caves to explore and flowers to smell.......

Fairies to find and magic to create......


Family members to love and cherish........
Memories to last a lifetime.....