Sunday, 30 March 2014


           helps you to grow and expand;
           gratitude brings joy
           and laughter into your lives
           and into the lives of all those around you.

                                                     Eileen Caddy
                                                          The Dawn of Change

Central to an Earth culture and the fair shares ethic is the idea of abundance. The industrial growth culture has the opposing belief of scarcity. Scarcity verses abundance is fear versus trust. A scarcity mindset has an underlying fear that there isn't enough. An abundance attitude trusts that our needs will be provided for. When we give we don't need to be concerned about consequences of our actions or be looking for gratitude or pay back. With a scarcity state of mind we hold tight to our time, energy and resources and they can stagnate and pollute.

It is within our power and abilities to create surpluses and abundance in our lives. Abundance is more than just material items; we can create abundances of self esteem, confidence, practical skills, friends, local community, purpose, knowledge and time. This starts with observing what we have, seeing the surpluses and redefining what we have in terms of what we need. Appreciation and abundance go hand in hand. It is about making the choice to see the abundances: are we seeing the strawberries that we have in plenty or do we want to import bananas? Of course strawberries and bananas aren't the same, but abundance is about valuing what we have rather than focusing on what we haven't got.

This continues with active creation of surpluses; what can we make, what skills do we have to offer, what plants can we propagate, what can we harvest, what time do we have spare?

 Looby Macnamara

Both of the above quotes have struck my attention recently. It is easy to go through life wishing you had more and closing ourselves to actually seeing that in fact our lives are filled with amazing things. So Friday evening the children and I took Jenny dog for a stroll at dusk and as they rode ahead on their bikes I gave some thought to all the amazing aspects of my life that I am eternally grateful for....let me share some of my thoughts.

I am truly grateful......

* that my home and life is always filled with children. I am blessed to have three beautiful children of my own and they all have friends. Surrounding yourself with children gives you a different outlook on life (and it keeps you young!).
Children are our future.......

* that I am able to buy wholesome food and that I am lucky to feel inspired to experiment in the preparation of it.

* that I am able to live in a pretty little cottage that is full of character and that the countryside is my playground :-)

* that I have time to stop and observe the changing seasons and admire the beauty of natures gifts.

* that I live in an area where the air is clean and fresh.

* that I am able to make friends and not enemies, whom I feel safe and alive with.

* that I have the ability to see the positive even in the worst situations.

* that I consider myself 'rich' although have little money and that I am able to earn 'just' enough money to make all things possible :-)

* that I have an amazing family who love and care unconditionally.

Sunday roast in the garden today :-)

* that I can laugh even when things go wrong.

* that I have a creative mind and can see the potential in all things.

* that I am independent, capable and willing to do things for myself.

* that I am fortunate enough to be free from the constraints of addiction and that my body and mind are in good health.

* that  have the power to think beyond the box and deviate from the 'norm' in so many areas of my life.

* that I have hope, ambitions and dreams and am driven to make them a reality.

* that I am able to plan things but equally can be very spontaneous.

* that I can see beyond myself and offer compassion towards others.

* that I have an amazingly interesting and varied life.

* that I have discovered my ability to write and have friends willing to read my jottings and post comments which inspire further.......

My mother's day girft from Small Boy

Thanks you :-) XX

Sunday, 23 March 2014

One little seed.....

A little seed was planted recently and very quickly it took hold and started to germinate - I love it when a plan comes together!

'So tell me about this seed' I hear you say. Well, my children go to a group in Charlbury called RAD, it's a group set up by another home educating mum in a church.
The children just go along for an hour and a half once a week and during that time they do some amazing things and have formed some great friendships. The most recent thing they have been enthused about is the charity Water Aid.

In this country we are fortunate enough to have clean water on tap and at all times. A friend of mine  told me of an experience that he had recently where he was given the opportunity to drink a glass of water that had been taken directly from a septic tank. Of course it had be filtered thoroughly before he consumed it and the water was clear and clean - he also lived to tell the tale thankfully!
In many countries of the world the scenario would be the same except the water wouldn't be filtered and it certainly wouldn't be clean and clear. I cannot even begin to imagine what that would be like.
People in these areas have little choice. Making the decision to drink contaminated water as a basic fundamental need knowing that you risk your life by doing so doesn't even register in my mind. Many children die every day as a result.

Water Aid is a charity set up to raise awareness and provide help in countries that don't have regular access to clean water.

Since hearing of this charity through RAD club, my children have been inspired to raise money to help and to make a difference to the lives of others.
Initially I said they could have all the copper coins they could find in the house (they found over £6 worth!!), then they began suggesting ways they could earn money. Miss P took to washing the car and Small Boy washed and re-washed the dishes. Then I got involved and just thought I'd take a look at the Water Aid website HERE......this is actually a very worth while cause. Before I knew it I am also involved and wanting to help. It suddenly dawned on me that we could run a coffee morning. Location options began whizzing around in my head and of course the logistics of such an event.
I mentioned my idea to said friend who lives in Charlbury and there my seed was planted and began to germinate with rapid speed.

The idea spread quickly, posters were created, plans were made and the enthusiasm multiplied.

Well what an exciting morning we had!!!
The enthusiasm bubbled from the beginning. Many very excited children turned up to give a hand.
We made a quick transformation of my friends school room into our 'pop up cafe', home made cakes arrived and voila! All ready to begin.

We debated what to charge. From experience it seems that if you set a baseline amount people tend to donate that and then add more, especially if the funds are heading for charity. People can be incredibly generous given the opportunity.

**For the record, my contributions of cakes went rather fashionably, disastrously, dreadfully, WRONG!!! After the first casualty stuck fast to the baking trays and ended up as a large pile of enormous cake crumbs, I tried two further cakes attempting against my will to remain faithful to the recipe but the same thing happened again and again. I did sort of manage to reconstruct one darling orange sponge cake and disguise the errors of my ways with a think splodge of tasty icing. Rather a poor show for someone who bakes all the time. perhaps on this occasion my efforts were to be focused elsewhere!!
All was not wasted as we've enjoyed two portions each of tasty coffee and walnut sponge with custard for desert for the past two days and it's looking like there's enough for tomorrow too :-)

Keep calm indeed!

At 10 am we had no customers. For a very brief moment I did wonder if our efforts had been wasted, then slowly folk began to drift in. We sent some boys off down to stand outside the local Coop to encourage people to call by. They came back with £7....didn't dare ask what they said to people! At one point we had all twelve seats in our 'pop up cafe' filled with further people standing AND three cars on the drive requiring washing. Car washing was another way we thought we could make a bob or two and it was pretty popular decision to make and raked in a great deal of extra booty.
Collectively we raised about £170, not bad for two hours work!

Many children got very wet in the process. Glad we didn't have folk seated outside!

The power of people hey, all it takes is one little seed :-)

Monday, 10 March 2014

In celebration of a wonderful life

My cousin and I read our final words to my grandfather on Friday

Thank you all for coming today and for joining us in celebrating the life of Grumps, Dad, Pud, Johnny, Grandad, John, Faz, 1470623 Gunner Fazackerley.

We called him Grumps, more on that later.

Grumps was born in Kendal, Cumbria in 1927, where he lived a posh childhood in a semi-detached house with an indoor loo, a bath and running water.

Grumps was the eldest son of John and Mary, he had a brother - Sam and three sisters, Margaret, Doreen and Pat.

Grumps was an ‘outdoor’ kind of chap. As a child he spent much of his time tickling trout in streams. That as we learnt was a method for catching them. You lay down on the bank, gently put your hand into the water. When a fish came along you tickled its belly sending into a false relaxed state, at which point you flip the fish out of the water. He told us about his adventures frequently but we never saw him catch one in this way.

Grumps also enjoyed playing in the fells and cycling to near by Morecombe.

Grumps was always a fighter and longed to be in the army. He tried to join when he was 14, but got turned down. He ran away from home at 16 and tried again, but again was turned down. He did however get offered a job in Manchester working in an ammunition factory.

Grumps didn’t give up on his dream of being in the army, at 17 and a half he tried again and this time was successful.

Grumps was sent to the holy land: he was always proud to tell us that he had been to Bethlehem and the sea of Galilee. After two years of service he was sent to Middleton Stony to train as a paratrooper with the SAS.

It was during this time on a Saturday night, whilst out dancing with two friends, that he met Grandma (the love of his life). He was so smitten by her that he walked from London to Middleton Stony in one night to keep a date with her. He obviously knew a good woman when he saw one.

Within a year of meeting the woman of his dreams, Grandma and Grumps were married. The biggest surprise was to follow!

Whilst serving in Germany, Grumps received a telegram from Oxford to say that his beloved wife had given birth to their first child……and their second…….and their third. Could he come home?

Of course his C.O thought he was fibbing and dismissed his claim. Grumps had to call Bicester police to confirm the claim and report the true outcome to his C.O.

He was told to catch the next truck home….the C.O said he didn’t know whether to ‘shoot him or promote him’ - he was permitted 3 weeks leave.

Grumps was awarded a medal for his time in Palestine. He was a brave and heroic man. One night, whilst watching his post an intruder made an attempt to gain access to the camp. Grumps challenged the intruder three times, then nervously he did what he was trained to do and opened fire….the poor casualty was a donkey!

Two years after fathering triplets, Grumps fired again. This time a single cartridge in the form of a beautiful daughter. Luckily, this time he was stationed in Kidlington so was closer to hand.

Grumps served 8 years in total in the army and 5 years as a reserve.

After his army days were over he worked at Pressed Steel in Cowley for 30+ years, he also worked as a retained fire fighter at Pressed Steel and in Kidlington fire station. He worked at Kidlington for 22 years and gained a medal for long and committed service.

Grumps was never one to sit around doing nothing. Of course he rested on occasions, his little saying was ‘This won’t buy the baby a new hat!’

Grumps loved fixing things but not in the usual sense. To most people, fixing something means you glue the broken object, inconspicuously hiding the defect the best you can. This was not the case with Grumps. Grumps seemed to have an endless supply of grey tape. To those of you who don’t know of his love affair with grey tape, we’re talking about highly adhesive grey duck tape. It did the job but far from hid the defects on the item. All over Grandma and Grumpy’s home there is evidence of all the fixing Grumps has been doing.: The vacuum cleaner, the remote control, wires, handles….even a cushion!

His computer fixing abilities were not such a story of success. We quickly learnt not to give Grumps access to our computers, even covering them in an attempt to hide them! Frequently we heard stories of his wiping the system clean. Grandma even had to buy her own computer for fear of losing her data!

Our early memories of Grumps are of fun and frolicking. He always loved children.

To my brother and I, Grumps was like a father as our own father was tragically killed when we were very young. We spent much of our childhood in the care of Grumps and Grandma.

Grandma and Grumps frequently took us all way on holiday to give our exhausted parents a break. We loved our simple breaks to Butlin’s, camping and even to Spain.

Grumps spent a lot of time when we were young in his shed wearing his brown and white bobble hat. We longed access to that very well organised shed with neatly aligned stationary and fishing tackle that a small child could only dream of using - but whilst not in it, he kept the door securely locked!

Grumps shared his passion of gardening, car engines, nature, taking things apart, fishing and his sweets….

He loved his sweets, he also loved his jam and bread. Grumpy’s favourite meal was simply jam and bread.

There was one thing that Grumps did that we all hated. The dreaded ‘dry shave’. He had a passion for catching us and rubbing his stubbly chin on our soft delicate skin -

Grumps, it really hurt!

Now I probably ought to explain to you all why we called him Grumpy. In his 50’s, Grumps did become really grumpy and snappy with us. We’d hide and peek out and shout ‘Grumpy Grandad’. He’d become very cross at that. We were actually a little frightened of him at that time.

Then Grumps had a major heart attack. Nature wanted rid of him, but as the true fighter he was he wasn’t going that easily. He endured a quadruple bi-pass operation and followed doctors orders and went on to make a full recovery. He also wasn’t grumpy anymore but by then the name had stuck!

Three years later nature tried to do away with him again, this time in the form of an aneurysm behind his eye. Once again Grumps stood his ground and fought on. With the help of medical intervention he lived to tell the tale.

In 1994 upon retiring, Grumps persuaded Grandma to move South to Pagham where they spent 20 happy years. They had many exciting adventures travelling the South coast on their free bus passes.

Last year Grandma and Grumps celebrated 65 years of marriage. What a major achievement.

Grumps was diagnosed with cancer in February 2011 and was given just 6 months to live. He still wasn’t ready to leave and fought beyond the doctors belief for two further years.

Even at Christmas when he was really poorly, Grumps still helped the kids cheat in our Christmas games!

So Grumps, as you make your way to Heaven’s pearly gates, we envisage you sitting on a cloud taped up with grey tape, being fed sweets and jam on bread by the angel children - don’t be cheeky and try to dry shave them as your stubble will no longer be course. When you get there the gates will open wide to let you in, your service to the mortal world has been honourable but now your time is done. Time to find your old friends and run around catching rabbits - play well!

Do not cry and be sad at the loss of a great man. Smile, celebrate and be glad that knowing him has enriched your lives. Memories last a life time.


Thursday, 6 March 2014

Back on track.......:-)

It doesn't take much....there, little blip over and chugging along nicely again :-)

Sometimes I think you just have to step back from life, look at yourself and where you're going, then step back in and carry on. It's good practise and helps things run more smoothly.

I'm so excited today, I've mastered a new skill. For me the simplest things make such a difference. I've been wanting to fit a cat flap since our little kitty arrived back at the beginning of November but because of the damp and cold conditions I didn't get any further then looking at the door, ordering my desired flap and thinking about how I was going to fit it. Instructions were provided thankfully, but unless you know the lingo such things can still remain a daunting prospect. Luckily I come from a family where mechanical, gadgety, DIY lingo was flying around all the time and although I often appeared to show no interest in the slightest...I guess some of it went in and stayed there.
Up until two years ago I had many jolly little project ideas which I would plan and my darling husband would make things happen with my gentle encouragement. We worked really well as a team there. When he departed earth side, I made the decision that I could either sink and let everyone run around and do jobs for me, or swim and be empowered to get on with things and do them myself. I'm not the kind of person who likes to rely on others so a rapid steep learning curve it was to be and 'girl power' was created!
Fitting the cat flap requires a hole to be drilled into the door and the plastic framed 'flappy bit' to be positioned within and screwed in place. Not too difficult I thought accept a jig saw is needed to make the hole and up until an hour ago I hadn't ever used one before. The other minor detail was that I live in a rental house and of course potentially cutting a hole into a door using a jig saw for the first time could carry the risk of totally ruining the door. Which would mean fessing up to my landlord that I'd wrecked the door completing a project I hadn't got permission for or having to keep quiet and buy a new door and fit that.....gosh this is getting complicated. Best not to think about the things that could potentially go wrong and boulder on in and do the job right...first time.

Tracking down the tools took a while. Many came up with offers of the goods but not someone close until today when two people came up trumps at the same time. Obviously today was the day I was supposed to get stuck into the job.

My lovely neighbour heard of my plans and was willing to help but it's very difficult for someone like me who is firstly a perfectionist and secondly, vastly independent. I HAVE to do it by myself.
So tools at the ready, measurements done, template drawn on the door.

Holes drilled.

Jig saw plugged in and instruction given (but job done by self......intricate neatening also done by self

Hole successfully cut......(DOOR NOT RUINED!!!!!!! :-) :-) :-))

Plastic flap housing all screwed into place.

Happy pussy, happy me :-)

* Oooh and now know how to use a jig excited about that, project ideas already flowing in dream bubble.......

Monday, 3 March 2014

Life on hold

I have to admit to feeling a bit down recently. I rarely admit to that, it's usually me that's the one who jollies life along and makes a point of cheering up anyone displaying anything less than a smile. Don't get me wrong, I've still been bumbling away and doing that but deep within me I've not felt on my usual cloud nine. I've been trying to give some thought to what it is that's causing my moment of not-quite-feeling-right and I think I've worked it out.

It came to me last week whilst I was browsing through old photos.

What became very obvious to me was all the amazing times I have had, the absolutely fabulous life I have created for myself. The best times were mainly spent as a family unit. Some how it suddenly seemed that life just isn't the same any more.
I'm still the same old fun loving, enthusiastic me, I still have similar dreams, but what I lack is someone who is behind me and helping me achieve those dreams. But it's not just that, I also feel a tad wasted that I don't have anyone to nurture in return.

It's a funny one. Many years ago, I recall going to the cinema to watch 'Bridget Jones'. I actually cried back then (really I did) because I thought that a single life seemed so cool and was slightly envious of Bridget's ability to do as she pleased. I was at that time in a relationship and although things were great I guess the grass on the side of 'married life' somehow seemed greener.

I'm two and a quarter years into 'single living' now, of course in many ways it's great. I can do very much as I please. I can make allll the decisions, I can stay up late, stay out late, chat to who I want at parties, stay at parties until I choose to go, eat what I want, have the whole bed to myself. I don't have to wash anyone else's laundry and don't have to clean anyone else's hair out of the bath! I also have access to the shed and have filled it with my things!!!

A true compatible relationship won't make you feel that such tasks are ardeous chores, a true soul mate will be set free by their partner to expand themselves and reach their full potential.
I think that's what I'm missing........

With all this freedom you would think I should be happy and skipping about in life.....frequently I do, but what I concluded at the start of the weekend is that 'life has been on hold'. I guess what I mean by that is that I just haven't had the same motivation to live the life I want to live. Now this is possibly going to sound ridiculous as it would appear that I do lots of interesting things on a regular basis and it is true, I do. But there are lots of things that just get put off because no one is behind me saying 'great idea....let's do it'. Years ago my dream was to be self sufficient, I've been pretty close in many ways. I've grown vegetables, I've kept chickens, I've lived with a sustainable heat source, lots of I seem further away from that life then ever before. The whole concept of sustainable living as a singleton seems way beyond my grasp. It's frustrating to say the least.

So what to do? Apart from to dream and continue to say 'one day'...hmmm...... I guess continue to surround myself  with lovely inspiring people and allow myself to grow in other areas. Perhaps now is the time to get out there and develop new skills??

As for Bridget Jones, I'm almost through the latest instalment of her life's saga....poor Bridget is also widowed....Bridget and I are now living parallel lives.....anyone who knows me well who reads the latest book will know what I mean....laughable!!!

Note to self......memories last a life time, 'time to leave the past behind'......X
And note to all.....being single is over rated!!