Sunday, 30 November 2008

The last few days...

Sorry - cant think of a more interesting title just now.

We got some snow today! As you can see below, it was just a little sprinkling, but I had a lovely walk home through it after dropping A off to her Quaker meeting (her Granny goes too). I was all wrapped up in my big coat and boots, and a scarf wrapped round my head (very stylish!) so was warm enough to appreciate the beauty of it.

We had a day in Inverness on Thursday, got a few bits and pieces we need, and some Christmas shopping, and then met Nonna during her lunchbreak for a bite to eat - lovely. We went to see Nonno at work too, but he was busy with customers so we just waved and pulled faces at him and he gave us a big grin.

Friday we had some friends over, then went into town with them to see the Christmas lights being switched on. There was a big parade with a Narnia theme, and there was a really good chaotic/carnival atmosphere. I usually don't like busy, crowded things like that, but I quite enjoyed it and felt fairly relaxed. We had chips too, which always helps :0))
Below is my mad photo of some of the Christmas lights, it all went a bit wrong (must learn how to use my camera properly - its a mystery to me) but I like it so I thought I would share it.

The highlight of my week was receiving my PIF (Pay It Forward) gift from lovely Hannah - a twelve days of Christmas ring. The photo below doesn't do it justice, its beautifully made and a lovely idea. Am pondering what to fill the stockings with, A immediately suggested sweets, but no no no!

Misty weather

These are just some lovely, spooky pictures we took while out for a walk the other day

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Are you impressed??

With my first attempt at knitting - the fabulous dishcloth!!

Probably not!! But I am quite impressed with myself. Off to get some wool tomorrow and will attempt some stripy arm warmers next.
Bit of a stressful day today, just one of those days where I seriously doubt myself.
A wanted a music lesson, which I was quite happy to go along with, thinking it would be lovely - she is very interested in music and already seems to have a good idea of what she's doing. Well, it ended with her in tears and me walking out of the room saying 'we need to get a proper music teacher for you because I'm obviously no good'.
We did discuss things once we'd both calmed down, and continued a bit with what we'd been looking at, but I'm really at a loss as to why we cant seem to work together on this subject. Maybe its my attitude, I did study music for several years as a child/teenager, so maybe I make assumptions about how easy or difficult things are, but we don't seem to have that problem with other subjects.
Maybe its just A's resistance to learning the theoretical side of music, even though she says she wants to. She spends a lot of time on her keyboard, but is used to making up tunes herself, and playing by ear. Having to sit down and read music is not as much fun - and doesn't feel so creative I suppose. I think I'll have to have a look around for some teaching resources that are more fun and interesting to help us. I really want to encourage her in this area as I think she is naturally quite musically talented, and learning the 'mechanics' of music could be very helpful in the longrun, but today just felt like I was doing it all wrong and putting her off.
Maths and English coming along nicely though. She seems to like the Letts workbooks (we're using the age 8-9 at the moment). Maths is more of a struggle, but she gets there in the end. I'm very impressed with her English, we did a dictation test the other day - I just took a passage out of one of our books - and her spelling and handwriting were really good. Her lack of enthusiasm about reading books obviously isn't holding her back.

Sunday, 23 November 2008


A few of us went to see a weird and wonderful play last night at the Universal_Hall in Findhorn. 'The Last Resort' by a company called Strangeface. The actors all used masks for the performance, and there were also puppets such as the fantastic devil below.
The masks were quite unnerving to begin with (have a look at the link for some examples), but were very effective. And an interesting storyline about human nature/failings, and redemption. We weren't sure before we went whether it was aimed at kids or adults, and I'm still not sure, but I think we all enjoyed it equally (our group ranged in age from 9 - 84).
After the show the audience were all invited to look around the set and play with the masks and puppets - a great idea, we had to drag the kids away in the end!

Its been a fairly quiet couple of weeks, colder weather has meant a lot more of this:

which is keeping us nice and cosy, in the front room anyway!
We've managed to get into a bit of a routine with some maths and English every day, not always workbooks, we decide day by day what we want to do, but focusing on those subjects.
Since we got back from our holiday A has shown much more interest in the computer (although not her blog! She is intending to blog again soon though, so she says...). I think this is a direct influence from her cousin, who gave her web addresses to some games sites. Consequently, I have become addicted to this bloody annoying game which is driving me mad! I have wasted far too much time on it lately. A is more drawn to the dress-up/make-up type games, although has tried a few others.
I'm kind of in two minds about this increased use of the computer, it was always very much frowned upon by her (Steiner) school, as they have a strong belief that TV and computer games are damaging to children. I felt it was a good idea to limit these things when A was younger, but the older she gets the more I feel she needs to decide things for herself. To be honest I would be very unhappy with her sitting at the computer for hours on end (not least because when I've done that with studying I end up with really bad headaches) but she doesn't seem to want to do that, at the moment anyway. I certainly think its good for her reading skills - she's still not too interested in reading books - as she is reading a lot of instructions for different games.
We've also been on a home ed group outing to Smarty_Art in Grantown, where we painted some pottery. Afterwards we came home and watched Chaplin's The_Great_Dictator, I'd forgotten how much I love this film - we both laughed a lot, and A also learnt a bit about WW2 through discussions about the film.
A has mentioned that she's missing her school friends, I think the long holiday without seeing them, and then a cancelled sleepover she had really been looking forward to have brought it home a bit. She did see all her old classmates at a birthday party last week, and on one level she had a great time seeing them all, but on another it highlights how they are still a group and she is now an outsider. Its difficult as there's nothing I can do really, but she doesn't seem too upset, and is still enjoying HE and insisting she doesn't want to go to the local school.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008


Towards the end of our holiday my brother took us to Beaulieu, where there is the national motor museum, palace house, and what really interested me - the old ruins of a 13th century Cistercian abbey.

I am now an atheist, but was once a devout Catholic considering a vocation, and there is still something about monastic life that appeals to me. Cant quite figure that out, as its all about praying when it comes down to it, so without the belief its a bit pointless. Maybe its the silence.

This big stone was once part of the monks washing facilities.

At a distance I thought this was some kind of cemetery, but its bits of the old abbey

Bit of a doorway thing going on here.
We loved the idea of this 'secret staircase' in the palace house -
weren't allowed up it though!


I really like Winchester.
This was only my second visit there, but my first to the Cathedral. I took loads of photos but most of them were rubbish - my camera seems to take mood swings. Here are a few that aren't too bad.

You can just about make out the green man carved on the end of the pew here.

We managed to find a Montezumas shop in the town, and I did get slightly carried away, ended up spending way too much on their lovely dark chocolate, mmm....

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Scary stuff

One of the places we went to early on in our holiday was Paulton's theme park. My nephews love it there, and go on all the big scary rides. A is not so keen on scary rides, in fact not keen at all on even slightly scary rides! This wasn't helped when she was told not to be 'so silly' by one of the park workers when she changed her mind at the top of a big slide. She came back down the steps looking very dejected then burst into tears. I wanted to go and have a word with the git, but A was already embarressed enough.
Apart from that incident A did enjoy the time spent with her cousins, and there were other things to look at and play on aside from the scary stuff.

M and A - trying to 'drown England' (?)

A little friend we met

The big rollercoaster - only my brother and his boys went on this one.

A in the dungeon.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Rothko and Spinnaker

We managed to get to the Rothko_exhibition at the Tate Modern. It was a great day out - just me and A. I booked online beforehand and was delighted to discover that kids under 12 get in free! We did the whole thing and got the audio guide as I knew very little about Mr Rothko so couldn't offer A much guidance. I think she got a lot out of it, but did say she was a bit disappointed as she hadn't expected so many 'dark' pieces, and prefered the reds and oranges. This is quite interesting (I think anyway), we had gone to another gallery in Southampton before our trip to the Tate, and A had really been enjoying many of the modern pieces there, she then rushed out of one room looking really upset. When I asked her about it she said the paintings were too dark and had made her feel really sad.
I enjoyed learning a bit about Rothko, its not the sort of art I would usually be attracted to, but he was certainly a very interesting person.
After a couple of hours of Rothko we went and had some lunch, then went back and looked around another floor of the gallery. A lovely day.

The Tate Modern Building

A climbing on one of the art installations

One of our first trips while at my brother's was to the Spinnaker_Tower in Portsmouth, where there was an 'Alien Invasion' event. The kids were extremely happy cos they got to meet a real, live dalek!! There were lots of other exhibits from various alien themed films.
There was a glass floor in this 170m high tower, I felt quite ill after taking this photo.

View from the tower

Monday, 10 November 2008


And glad to be!
Had a lovely holiday, went to loads of good places and caught up with lots of nice people, but two-and-a-half weeks was a little too long for me. I get a bit claustrophobic in a house full of people, I'm too used to having my own space I suppose. By the end of two weeks I was just about ready to punch someone, nobody in particular, I just get to the point where I need to be ALONE! Anyway, I managed to get a grip and not punch anyone, but am glad to be home.
A had a great time with her cousins, very few falling out moments. There is only six months between A and my oldest nephew (M), the other one (D) is three years younger (and tends to get left behind a bit, but it doesn't seem to bother him too much). A and M are so different - almost opposites really, but they have always got on really well.
I'll get started with the pics - I took lots so I'll do it in stages over the coming week.

A family day out at Moors_Valley_Country_Park in the New Forest.
An interesting carving A and M having fun
These next two are A taking advantage of the (almost) empty local playpark while her cousins were at school. The orange thing was brilliant - loads of different games involving bashing and kicking
the big silver buttons. I found it very therapeutic.