Saturday, 27 February 2010

My daughter, sleeping

My daughter, sleeping

She is an egg
A princess in a forest
A white stone in a stream

I hold my breath
To hear her breathe

Friday, 26 February 2010


You must be aware by now that I am utterly fascinated and enthralled by my own children. They are just the most intense thing in my life, and I could go on about them for hours. So this is 3 beautiful things about my very own Bloodtester.

1 He came down the kitchen stairs the other morning, poked his head round the door and said "Just coming down the stairs" with the cheekiest grin on his face, just delighted to be awake and facing a whole new day.

2 We were going down the stairs together and he slipped his hand in mine. He has hard, dry little boys hands, always busy.

3 He was sitting on my lap, having a snuggle, and I said "I love you, BT", and he said "I know." How wonderful to know you are loved.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Nice music

Here is a link to Caitlin Rose and her rather lovely songs. If you like slightly bittersweet acoustic country music...

Return from the expedition

Got back yesterday from 5 days in Sussex, with sister-in-law I. We went by train - the drive to Sussex must be one of the longest cross-country drives you can do without falling off the edge of England, one of us is always sick, and the A303 is dug up at the moment. The train was quicker, despite the fact that we had 4 changes, the children behaved really well, and it made it all into a bit of an adventure. We also saw SiL II and the littlest cousins - 2 little dark eyed boys, the youngest just one, and the oldest a 3 year old toddler, with those lovely chubby hands and cheeks that toddlers have. I got some nice pictures of them all just rolling around like puppies.

Had a very nice meal on Friday night in SiL I's local pub. Rainbow opted for the beef Wellington. She is such a gourmet. I discovered on this trip that she is pretty good at reading a map. We managed to get extremely lost (only myself to blame on that one), and she managed to direct us back on track.

BT fell asleep on my lap in the pub. Felt like such a slummy mummy.

BT has been poorly today. He has a temperature and has been sick, and spent most of the day asleep on the sofa. Poor little man. He looks like a Dickensian orphan when he gets ill.

1 BT getting to chat to 3 adult Star Wars fans, wide-eyed. One of them had a ring tone that went "A message from the dark side there is". BT says he would like a t-shirt, all green, with "Much to learn you still have" on it. Must do an trawl and see if such an item exists. His replacement lego light sabres came through - the pick a brick service, marvellous.

2 Rainbow was so delighted with herself over the map reading. She dragged her suitcase everywhere, was really helpful.

3 We had a day at Fisher's Farm - a Milky Way/Big Sheep kind of place, with the added attraction of a mini ice rink, and a fab toboggan run (tractor tyre inner tubes on a mini dry ski slope sort of thing). The kids loved the ice rink - we had to go there twice. They went round together a couple of times, really helping each other. It is always so lovely to see them being kind to each other.

It's nice to be back in Devon, though. I was itching to do some digging this afternoon, but BT wanted me to hang around, and it's hard to resist a poorly boy. He's wide awake now, of course.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Master craftsman

Watched mastercraftsman the other night. Did anybody see it? They were bodging, which doesn't sound very mastercraftish, but it was.

I'm not usually that into reality tv manufactured competitions, but this ticked a lot of boxes for me:

1 Monty Don. Tick
2 More specifically, Monty Don's trousers, which look to me like navy blue moleskin. I wish more men would dress like Victorian gardeners. Tick.
3 Interesting pre-industrial mechanical devices - totally off-grid. Tick.
4 Really nice canvas shelters that I must see if I can find a blueprint for as I would really like one in my garden. Tick.

So I cheered Charlie when he decided that doing the craft was more important than winning the "competition". I cheered Sarah when she challenged herself and managed to create a rather adorable little child's chair. I wanted that chair. And I cheered the other guy, who I can't remember the name of, but who quietly and methodically went about creating a very nice chair indeed.

Thatching next. Can't wait.

And then at the end of it, we were talking about the urge to create, to connect with raw materials, and how important that is, and how frustrating it is sometimes to do a job with no real beginning or end, and I said "That's why I make marmalade" and YM said "And you make the best marmalade I've ever tasted". How wonderful is he?

Friday, 12 February 2010

pastoral pleasures

1 Saw my first daffodils - down at Landcross. They are always early there, must be an early variety. Anyhow, nice to see them, like a splash of sunlight, a real promise of spring.

2 Got home to a message on the answerphone from my dad saying that he was clearing out his raspberry patch and had saved us some canes. That does mean that we need to get on with our soft fruit garden. I want redcurrants and blackcurrants, lots and lots of raspberries, gooseberries - we adore gooseberries - and of course masses and masses of strawberries. I planted little alpine strawberries in various borders last summer. I'm hoping they will spread and spread. They fruit for ages, and it's like a treasure hunt every day for the children, and for me, and for the birds. And the slugs. Though I am hopeful there will be fewer of those this summer after the cold weather.

3 Went out of the house to a treeful of starlings, all chattering away. They lifted off in a great whirling, flickering cloud of birds and went wheeling over the trees and away.

Yer Man went down to the big barn to chop wood and said the owl was circling around outside waiting for him to go. It is nice to think that we haven't scared it off - it seems to be finding us increasingly boring!

Monday, 8 February 2010

Weird pleasures (well, not that weird, don't get too excited, but weird for me)

Read on the lego website that children across the world spend 5 billion hours a year playing with lego. Reckon Bloodtester contributes a significant number of those. It didn't mention how much time adults spend looking for lost bits, trying to make impossible structures work, and nagging their children to PUT THE LEGO AWAY AND GET THEIR SHOES ON BECAUSE WE ARE GOING TO BE LATE.

Had a slightly frustrating day at work. Nobody wants to play ball. I seriously feel like I am juggling one ball too many. Still, next week I am taking the TRAIN to SUSSEX with my CHILDREN on MY OWN. 3 changes. Should be an adventure. The big challenge will be to keep the children to minimal packing. They are both natural maximalists.

1 Saw my first lambs of the year. Sooty little legs, grey fleeces - much greyer than their mothers. Is that a camouflage thing?
2 My freezer book is going really well. Sorry, that is so boring, but it is really satisfying to me. I think part of it is that I am really enjoying keeping one part of my life under strict control.
3 We sorted out the lego yesterday. More control. We sorted it by colour - I suppose we could have tried sorting it by shape, but there are so many odd shapes - it started because I was looking for one particular brick for BT's Hyena Droid Bomber (you wait, Cloudgirl - one day your beautiful house will be filled with bits of geometric Danish plastic) - and kind of carried on. There is a satisfaction in having different containers filled with different coloured bricks. It's a bit like a Mondrian in a box. Made of geometric Danish plastic...Now I want better containers to sort it into.

What a bizarre set of pleasures. I'm quite surprised at myself.

What else have we done? Rugby has featured largely over the weekend. We had a Ladybird day yesterday - BT wasn't feeling well, so lolled on the sofa with his dad while Rainbow and me made biscuits. At least, she made biscuits, with really minimal intervention from me, bless her, and I made a crumble topping. I found some very old damsons at the bottom of the freezer when I sorted it out, so they came out. They were fantastic. Damsons have incredible depth of flavour and colour.

And the quince tree arrived, so I planted that out. It doesn't look terribly healthy. I'm a bit worried it's not going to make it.

I would really like to sort out a soft fruit garden this year. I think we'll have to have it in the enclosed garden  - if it's in the field the deer will have it. Or we'll have to cage it properly.

Friday, 5 February 2010

small pleasures

1 Rainbow had a hot cross bun for breakfast. It smelled so good in the toaster.
2 Followed a thatcher's truck for part of my journey. Big bundles of golden thatch
3 Found a parking space straight away! last time I was in that car park I drove around for about 20 minutes getting increasingly stressed out.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

More about lego

Lego is fantastic. It absorbs my boy for hours on end. It frustrates him and infuriates him, and then he'll find a solution (to the problem he has created for himself) and be delighted with himself. It is expensive, but if you costed it on a pound per hour of play basis, it would be incredibly good value. And all his friends love it. They talk about it, they show off their creations to each other...

It is amazing that it has been around for so long, that it still sustains and inspires kids so much. The only downside is that there is at least one brick in every room in our house, and it is deeply unpleasant to find a two-er embedded in your instep at 2 o'clock in the morning.

I love the colours, too.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010


BT's latest lego creation. How cool is this? Mind you, it does remind me a bit of that photo of guys eating their sandwiches on the skyscraper...

Lego starwars is BIG in our house. Rainbow woke up this morning complaining that her dream of bunny rabbits and little lambs had been invaded by Anakin and Ahsoka. BT is a boy obsessed. He dreams of running his own little clone army. Bless.

Monday, 1 February 2010


So much to write about.

First of all, it was Yer Man's birthday on Sunday. On Friday we had no plans, so we rang David Job at Yarde, and he said he would open up for us. We really didn't feel it was on for just the four of us to go along so we did some ringing round. We assumed about half the people we asked wouldn't make it, but everybody said yes, so we ended up with 15 adults and 8 children. Charlie cooked us a really nice lunch - roast pork and apple crumble - and we were piggybacking on the back of someone's 21st, so the place was all decorated with wildflowers. She created a cake with a selection of slices, a fig, and some sparklers, so we all got chance to sing.

We cycled up, and it was quite frosty - there had been a bit of snow, too, and it hailed on us on the way, but we arrived looking pretty clean. It had all melted by the time we cycled back, so we arrived back home looking like a cross between a dalmation and a skunk. The children were so muddy we had to get them to strip down in the porch.

It was a really nice day, though. Rainbow made her daddy breakfast in bed - following the instructions in her 3rd Book for Girls to the letter - I had to fight for marmalade rather than "jam or honey".

The snowdrops are out. They sneaked up on me this year. One day there was nothing, next day there were patches of white under all the hedges and under the trees up in the top corner.

There are a few green shoots of daffodils showing through.

And this is my garlic patch on Sunday morning, with a sprinkling of snow. The onions I planted don't look so great, but the garlic is going strong.