Monday, 31 October 2011

Witches, Pumpkins and Apple bobbing

It wouldn't be Halloween without a spot of apple bobbing. It's the ideal party game for Charlie as it involves two of his favourite things; playing with water and eating apples. I particularly liked his need to put on his swimming goggles and the fact that he could only get an apple if there were no adults in the room.

This afternoon after school, it was just Charlie and I as Josie had been invited to a proper Halloween party. I managed to avoid a hugely overpriced and only to ever be worn once costume, thanks to Ruby Murray's Teeny Tiny Leather Spell Books. Josie and I made one together yesterday and it really did turn out quite well and is proudly being worn on a necklace as the main part of her witch's costume.

We didn't get around to any pumpkin carving this year and strangely the children didn't ask. I grew several but it was not a very successful year and I have only ended up with a handful of small yellow one called "Summer Ball".

Sunday, 30 October 2011

A good bonfire

Now in my second year of blogging, I sometimes get that deja vu feeling. We have a number of blog worthy fires throughout the year, but there really is nothing like a good autumn bonfire, especially after the clocks have gone back and the dark evenings creep up on you. Both my Grandad, who was born on 31st October and my Dad, loved a good bonfire. There was constantly a bonfire under construction, more often than not to be burnt on a late Sunday afternoons.

The largest and most dramatic bonfires were those when the dried out runner bean vines were burnt at the end of October. It was a bit of an event really that ran into the bonfire nights of early November. It's a marvelous time at the end of the warm weather, where you don't really need a coat and there is an abundance of apples. I grew up in a small village, living just around the corner from my grandparents who were lucky enough to have 3 old apples trees in their garden. 27 Orchard Road was clearly a beautiful orchard at one point and as my father was born in that house, those trees were a really special part of growing up, as were the bonfires.

So following in a bit of a family tradition, we had our own spectacular bonfire this afternoon, in celebration of all things autumnal, spooky and Octoberish. Armed with marshmallows, hot chocolate, 'witches' fingers' bread sticks and popcorn, we headed up to the allotment this afternoon. We didn't actually have anything substantial to burn but collected everything that had dried out so far. It was enough to put on a fabulous roaring fire for about 5 minutes which was just enough time to toast marshmallows.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

We love trees

Trees are beautiful at any time of year but in the autumn, the colours are so spectacular, that a run around in the woods is the ideal way to spend a day with the children. Wildwood has the added benefit of native British wildlife and an adventure playground alongside ancient woodlands.

Josie asked me to take this picture. She was lying on a fence looking up at the sky and calling for me to take a photo because the trees were so beautiful.

Despite being close to the end of October, the silver birch are still relatively covered in green leaves.

Trees, sunshine and shadows make me smile.

Monday, 24 October 2011

The Natural History Museum

There is one place in London that I will never tire of. It has been a favourite since my grandparents used to take me there and I cherish the idea of having passed that love on to my own children. The Natural History Museum, is the most beautifully spectacular museum and the fact that it houses such fabulous dinosaurs finds is just a complete bonus.

There could not be a more glorious day to visit, than a sun filled day in October. The golden leaves and the clear blue skies where the perfect back drop for the grandiose Romanesque giant of a building. If ever architecture were to reflect the contents and purpose of a building, the Natural History Museum was clearly built for dinosaurs.

It's a place where dreams of small boys come true and it doesn't even matter too much if you decide against queuing for an additional hour to get into the actual dinosaur exhibition and go truly commercial and just go for the shop. Personally I am not sure that I would be able to go to the museum now, without at least one trip up the escalator into planet earth and "the wobbly shop" as it's become known, is really as contentious now as seeing the "real" T-Rex. Nothing could ever be so wonderful as following Charlie and his friend through the volcano section of the museum, watching their delight at the idea of all things volcanic and lava like punctuated with the debate about whether they would / would not be going to in "the wobbly shop". I can see the two of them in the future, discussing all matters of great seriousness whilst pressing buttons and interacting in a world which will remain forever at their fingertips.

Despite their love of all things Apple and at the age of four years old, instinctively knowing that is something has an "i" prefix, then you can play on it, a day trip to a museum that opened in 1881 and is filled with curiosites collected by the great explorers of the past, is still the best day out ever. It is reassuring to think that my Grandma, who was from a very different world, could quite easily take Charlie for a day out at the Natural History Museum and have just as much fun.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Why is silence golden?

Description and adjectives are such wonderful aspects of language but why should silence be golden? Since Charlie has gone to school , I have been able to finally experience periods of silence in my life. Quite often now, I return to the house and it is silent. My iPhone has become stuck in headphone mode for a couple of days which meant I had a silent phone. I was quite tempted not to get it fixed!

As I waited for the train to London yesterday morning, alone and appreciating all the quiet and relaxing joys of travelling without children, the sun rose bathing the station in glorious autumn sunlight and I really started to wonder about silence. Of course the silence to which I refer is not complete silence. On the train there was the rumble of the train on the tracks and the faint sound of rustling newspapers, but it was empty of words. I was alone with my thoughts, had to talk to no one and had no one talking to me. In a world filled with noise, information and words, this silence seems precious. I believe the saying is that words are silver and silence is golden.

However sometimes silence is not golden but is a cowardly shade of yellow. I discovered since returning to work that some people don't know what to say to me and choose to say nothing. This silence is far from golden.

The whole world appears golden on mornings like yesterday; golden sun, golden leaves and golden silence.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Exquisite yarn

There truly is a world of difference between a ball of acrylic yarn with its wiry feel in brash garish colours and the beautifully precious hand dyed natural yarns with prices to match their finery. Although around £20 seems like a large amount of money to pay for a skein of yarn, the colours are all individually divine and the feel and quality reflects every penny of the price. I couldn't resist visiting the stalls of my two favourite purveyors of scrumptious yarn at the Knitting and Stitching Exhibition on Sunday. I adore Fyberspates the colours and the sock yarn are really so lovely and my ambition is to buy some lace weight yarn from Loop to make a delicate shawl. Sadly I do not possess the skills currently for either Fyberspates socks or a Loop shawl but it didn't stop me admiring the stalls.

However I discovered a new favourite, Habu Textiles. 

There was just something so alluring about the muted tones and variety of textures from natural materials that were truly exquisite. Sometimes it's alright to indulge in such sumptuous yarn, especially as I will appreciate it everyday and can't wait to get started on a few little projects.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Upcycling Academy

Now that Josie is 8 years old, she is even more independently minded than ever and savvy enough to evaluate which situation is going to be the best for her. There are times when neither of the choices would exactly have been on her wish list but she was happy to settle for coming to the Knitting and Stitching Exhibition at Alexandra Palace once she saw what was in our picnic. However she clearly stated she was actually excited once I told her she could take along a t-shirt to the Upcycling Academy, turn it into something totally fabulous and model it in our own fashion shoot. (She wants to be a fashion designer)

Before we got to the making area , Josie kindly allowed me to look at some of the textile art, which is of course out of this world. This year, I need to work a little bit harder on collating the inspiration I gleamed, as a lot of the artists did not allow photos, which is my favourite way of recording inspiration. I did get to take a couple of photos but with a tolerant but rapidly morphing into grumpy, young lady, we soon had to stop off for refreshments.

Next it was time for the Upcycling Academy, where we spent a great deal of time and it was also my favourite part, despite jamming the expensive sewing machine. Josie upcycled an old dress that was a little short in the sleeves and created a t-shirt and fingerless gloves with the sleeves.

And after our fashion shoot, waving our banners about the "war on want", our love of fashion and hate of sweatshops and a lovely young man had given Josie a "say 'no' to sweatshops" badge, she whispered to me, "Why are they saying 'no' to sweet shops?" I loved her completely for her misreading of sweat for sweet and the slow serious nods she gave me as I explained what sweatshops were and I realised in an instant that despite her grumbling and observations relating to the slightly older female demographic of the crowd, that this would be one of the memories that shapes her life.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Autumn Leaves

This time last week, the sun was blazing, the temperatures had soared and autumn seemed to have been put on hold for the summer to just have one more flourish. In the past few days, the wind has arrived and the field on the way to school is completed covered in leaves.

Sometimes I do believe that autumn is my favourite season. I adore the colours, the light, the weather and the  memories it evokes. Once you've had children, autumn leaves take on a new meaning. I really have spent hours and hours over the past eight years, kicking around in piles of leaves. My bike basket is full of leaves and I have not made it through the park once this week on the school run without being showered in leaves.

And just to finish off that autumn feel, today was not only Josie's harvest festival but Autumn Watch is back on the TV.  The glorious sunny weather over the last couple of weeks has meant that there are no mushrooms to go and hunt for at Wildwood this weekend, so the mushroom foray has been cancelled.  So for now we are just going to enjoy the autumn leaves.

Sunday, 2 October 2011


    Everyday for this year I have been taking a picture with my favourite app, Hipstamatic. I'm not sure how it happens, but even daily subjects come out looking really quite special, with pretty much no skill or expensive equipment. I'm quite taken with the idea of The Big Hipstamatic Show where you can upload your photos to a themed competition but have never got around to entering.

The latest competition is based on the new Wilco album, The Whole Love and when I played the song One Sunday Morning to my husband, on this Sunday morning, I thought it might just worth a try at entering. It is not a particularly good photo, but Charlie was impressed that I had managed to capture sun rays.

This is my entry and below are all the others. To vote for me just click on my picture of the sun and trees. I'm currently ranked 1016th, which I'm guessing is pretty much at the bottom of the pile.


Saturday, 1 October 2011

Mobile blogging

I remember discovering that I knew very little of anything. It was just after starting my 'A' levels and I have felt like that ever since. Each time I find a new interest and start to read about it, the more I learn, the more I realise I don't know. I do believe I suffer from information overload on a daily basis.

Although I have had my iPhone for quite sometime now and have even written a couple of posts on my mobile, it has only been today that I have discovered the blogger app. Last week I discovered how to do screen shots (press the button on the top and the button on the front at the same time) so today I am learning how to seriously blog from my bed as I feel terribly unwell after another increase in medication.