Tuesday, 16 December 2014

My little Granny

Great Granny Amy (aged 95)

My Granny died on a snowy December day. She was called Amy. At the grand age of ninety nine (almost one hundred) her body had finally got too weary to carry on.

I saw her the week before, she was still of very sound mind and had moved into a nursing home after living independently at home until just a few weeks ago.

We chatted about memories of when I was little. We both remembered me sleeping on a camp bed in her bedroom, we used to chatter until very late, she would fall asleep, it was always her first, often playing a guessing game called 'Animal, Mineral or Vegetable'.

My bed was next to her wonderful foot powered sewing machine. It was not on display, but instead it hung, defying gravity upside down on the underside of its stand. Whenever I saw it appear for use I always thought it was like a magicians trick. Lying in my low bed next to it I could see it in all its highly decorative gilded beauty, it was like someone covered with amazing tattoos or one of those old waltza carriages, my arm would reach out of the covers and spin its handle slowly and quietly while Granny slept beside me.

Her hands had worked hard making clothes, she was a seamstress by trade. I can remember pretty dresses she made me with vintage lace collars, when the dress got to small the collar would come off and go onto the next, and so on.

Now her skinny hands were dry from the heating in the home, I gently rubbed them with her cream, her skin was paper thin and I could see each vein through it. My fingers fit in between her knuckles like deep trenches and her wedding ring, so thin from almost eighty years of wear, spun precariously on her tiny finger. It was touch that wasn't getting dressed, that wasn't being bathed, that wasn't being moved. I couldn't remember the last time I had held her hand, probably thirty years ago as a child, this time it wasn't to keep me but to keep her.

I combed her hair, she said it felt nice.

She was sat in a high back chair, making it almost impossible to cuddle her, which was all I wanted to do. I stooped down over the contraptions, the table laden with sippy cups, medications and an emergency alarm and wrapped my arms around her, she felt so tiny and frail. I stroked her back through her dressing gown "my little Granny" I whispered in her ear, she laughed and said "I know, I've been shrinking for some time". I told her I loved her, again I don't know when I last said that to her, and that she loved me.

As I left I looked back and whilst I hoped to see her again I knew in my heart that was the last time.

Friday, 17 October 2014

A grand plan

Sheep Count
I have spent the last nine months feeling absolutely not myself.

My mind has been filled with anxieties about Joel starting school. These started last summer and then they gradually worked up into this massive black cloud by this summer. It felt like I was losing him, like I was already grieving over our shared experiences as they were happening. Will this be the last time we throw stones in the river together? The last time he wants to go and watch trains? Will he stop saying "I love you"? It was all made worse by hearing other parents wishing the time away "I can't wait until September" or telling me how great it was that their kids were so tired that they were eating tea at 4 and then in bed by half past. I couldn't imagine anything worse, we want to still spend time with our son. One parent was even saying how odd mothers were who were sad about their kids going to school. The worst though was people telling me "You will want another one when he goes to school" as though I would want to replace him, shift that love and loss onto another.

It all sounds very over dramatic when I see it written down and of course it wasn't the last time we threw stones together, or did lots of other fun stuff. We put a plan in place. We decided to flexi-school. Half the week at school and half the week at home school. Most people don't realise that this option exists. Whilst the law here states all children must be in full time education by the time they are five, this doesn't mean full time at school. It is also a parents legal right to ask a school to consider a flexi school arrangement, but its up to the head teacher to decide.

The school he was initially offered a place at didn't want to enter into such an agreement, which is a common response. Schools don't always know how to accommodate the idea into their classrooms and systems or how to record the absence without it affecting their grading and Ofsted reports. It shows this wasn't the right school for us.

We successfully negotiated a flexi-school place with a much smaller school and have never looked back on our decision. The school has just twenty pupils with mixed ages across the two classrooms. It is idyllic with open views of the fells across the school play ground and a forest school down the lane. They go caving, climbing and have amazing free after school activities (though he's pretty tired by then so that's not for us yet) Joel loves it and can't wait to get there on his school days. On those three days I work and on the other days we do fun, interesting and exciting stuff together or with my mum. We still have our weekends too. Its fab!

I finally feel like I can breathe again.

Monday, 16 December 2013


Oh the shame! It's been four months since I wrote and that's not been out of choice, life has got super hectic since I started work and Joel dropped his naps. It was amazing what I could get done in the time he slept; a blog, some cooking, some washing and maybe even a hot brew. Yes hot, as in drunk on time!

Its taken a long while to settle into work, especially given that my job means I am based at home. Initially I missed being in an office with other people, the purposefulness of having a destination not to mention the added bonus of new friends and people to eat lunch with. I'm now pretty well adjusted to the role and its challenges, I am grateful that when the sun pops out from behind the clouds I can (though not always) pull on my boots and hit the fells, take advantage of being around for when the washer finishes, watch the pennies and have what I like by eating lunch at home. Best of all though is to work with a hot brew in hand and the dog at my feet.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Across to The Mill

I couldn't count the number of times we have wandered past Sprint Mill, catching glimpses of it's treasures through the cobweb threaded windows or ajar doors, nor the number of times we have been tempted to sneak in! When we heard they were having an open day, as part of the National Gardens Scheme- Open Gardens, we were among the first in line to enter.

Immediately we were greeted by hens roaming the pathways and some very friendly goats housed behind a beautiful handmade gate, which somehow looked very 'Goaty'

Then on to the Mill; It was crammed to the rafters with three floors of wonderful objects, furniture, boats, tools, toys and everything that had ever been treasured by the family who had lived there for the last forty years.
The Mill itself is used for storage and work shop space with the beautiful Mill house next door, which on the open day was serving homemade cakes and teas. Here's what I managed to get pictures of, however it was very dark inside and I was keeping an eye on Joel around all the tools.

This boat was made by the Mill owner
Well organised. Loving 'Broken Dolls'
Woven chair made by the Mill owner
Check out this blue beauty
'I know what I am doing!'
Lots of lovely old tools were everywhere
I would love a cabinet like this one day
This impressive bench was sat next to the river
We spotted this teeny weeny cluster of bugs on the arm of it
Joel found a rope swing
It was a great day out and just across the field from us. I came away full of aspirations to one day have a big big space to keep everything ever in.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Simple Pleasures

Joels help in the garden, "a pile for you Mummy"

In just over a year Joel starts school, he will be amongst the youngest in his year turning four a mere five weeks before term starts. I cant imagine how I'm going to feel when the time comes but right now it feels like a panicky tick tock Countdown clock is starting up inside my head. I'm trying not to get flustered but I want to make sure we do lots of nice things together, we always have as this blog is testament to, but now he is at an age where he will get more from the experiences (and hopefully some memories) than he has in the past.

A big part of this is celebrating the simple pleasures in life; we made a wigwam using canes, string, pegs and a 1960s sheet. He loves it and asked for his picnic lunch to be served in there.

We have been preparing our allotment for the imminent arrival of our runner beans, courgettes and purple broccoli.

We spent quite some time today watching a snail we found whilst weeding slowly emerging from it's shell. It was a beautiful moment and the longest he has ever sat still in the garden.

We are lucky enough to have a post box at toddler height in the wall near our house, as well as being lucky enough to have a toddler with a Royal Mail obsession!

He tries the handle every time

Joel has started to take more command with Myrtle and loves holding her lead. "Heels" he tells her

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

A year ago in pictures

I decided a few weeks back that it was high time I got around to making our wedding album, given that we sadly live in an era where we no longer automatically print our photos but instead have them on disc, memory sticks, facebook etc this was probably not such an unusually long delay.

I couldn't find an album which was quite right, most were pretty schmaltzy or dull and just didn't fit with the colourful exciting images we had to go inside. So I bought one the right size and covered it with fabric, the same lovely design that our bridesmaids dresses were made of. The remnants I had were funny shapes, due to the dresses having full circle skirts, so I had to join three pieces together, however I really like the effect that gave.

The front and back inside pages were spares so I could glue them down over the fabric edges for a more finished look. I decorated these pages with our save the date stamp, repeating the cover fabrics pink and yellow colour combination.

I chose a traditional style album with tissue interleaves and used black photo corners to mount the pictures. I included our invite designed by artist Jill Wignall, and the beer label and mats designed by Mr B.

I'm really pleased with the finished book, it's a real treasure. It's nice to have a physical album of the day and it's already doing the rounds of our relatives who aren't online.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Tractor Times

Today was a special day on our calender, our first wedding anniversary. 19th May 2012 truly was the best day of our lives (bar Joels birth) and I just can't believe a whole year has passed.

This morning we exchanged small gifts, Mr B got me some cool bird plates (think I've said before he ALWAYS gets me good presents) and I got him a CD he had enjoyed listening to on a friends iPod over our Christmas break.

We planned a nice trip out to a Vintage Tractor and Steam Rally, of course Joel loved it!

Old style, without a cab

If only the farmer had left a key

"It's six o'clock, Mummy"


'Same' face

Tiny boy x

Back to front trike

One guys collection of old models, carefully arranged into a working day

So much activity but no touching!

Tractor was one of Joels first words and some eighteen months on they still make his day!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Post and Present

A while ago I accepted a challenge; to make something for five of my Facebook friends. Part of the deal was they made something for five people too, I was one of the five people lucky enough to make it onto our friend Cats 'to do' list. So today this love filled little lot landed on our doorstep.

The very fact that "Pat" (the name Joel gives to every postman/woman) pushed a parcel through our letter box thrilled him but then inside was a handwritten card, a dolly picture and a chunky twig pencil all for him. He's been asking me to write 'J's' with it this evening for him.

What a delight to receive this handmade light pull. Felted heart shapes and wooden cubes alternate down to a dark wood ring pull looped with strands of fabric. I loves it!!

I have so far only made plans for my special five things but am going to pull my finger out now and get making for real, watch this space for the results.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Dream Kitschen

I've kept these for years, ever since my Granddad died, they have moved house nine times. These samples of Formica worktop had been hanging up in his garage since the 1960s; a proper garage with tools, seedlings and keeping apples wrapped up in brown paper and stacked high in boxes. I remember playing with them as a child during my summer holidays in Wrea Green, my grandparents village; a proper Lancashire village with a dub (duck pond), a cricket team and an annual Field Day (a highlight of my younger years).

I love the way each sample is so delicately thin, like a posh biscuit, and they make a nice clickety clattery noise when you try and pick them all up. Each pattern is very stylish, you can imagine 1960s housewives pouring over them, hankering after just a couple of metres of such a dreamy prep space in their kitchen.

This gold speckled pattern is called Sequin, available in Black, Red (pencilled on the sample are the dimensions required for the Wrea Green Institute bar) and Mushroom. I imagine the sales pitch; Let the glitz and glamour of the ballroom breath elegant rhythm into your veg prep, 'Cha Cha Chop'

The mosaic pattern is called Capri; Echoes of jet bound ventures to holiday islands, transporting you while you task to warm climates and early evening cocktails.

I think I'll keep them forever, just because.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Wish we were there

Since I last blogged I have got a job (Joel calls it "Clever Mummys little job") we had a family holiday for a whole ten days and also have an allotment opposite our house awaiting some crops. How exciting eh!
The holiday was one of those where you feel like you need another holiday straight after, I think its always like that when you have children, theres no sign of any rest or relaxation when little folk are around. The change of scene and time together as a family was most welcome though.

We stayed in sunny Dorset and managed to hook up with our good pals Lisa and Margot for the first three days of our stay. We visited Swanage and went on a windswept playground by the sea

Took a trip on a steam train (choo choo) to Corfe Castle

Where we found a model village, of Corfe itself! One day I would love to make a model village of where I live.

The extensive gardens were great for children and adults with nooks and corners to explore, garden games and picnic spots.

Another day we visited Peppa Pig World, for those of you who don't know Peppa is an annoying, bossy pig with mass appeal to toddlers. It was a very well thought out theme park and it felt like you were actually in one of the cartoons while you were there.

However trauma struck at the front of a long queue when Joel was unable to go on a Dinosaur ride due to height restrictions. Its bothered him since and he has shed many a tear over it (we all did actually) The designated height is now marked on the kitchen wall with a dinosaur along with the promise of a go on it when he is tall enough.
Despite this we had a fantastic time and Joel got to meet Peppa herself! Que dodgy photo taken in a mum scrum...

From one world to another; Monkey World was another great outing. We had visited before but in winter and when Joel was tiny. Its the most amazing animal sanctuary. All their monkeys are rescued from sad lives, usually mistreated as pets (a trade which is not illegal) leaving them with lasting mental and physical damage. In the sanctuary they can live out their days in a fantastic purpose built environment. Check out the baby Orangutan, she was supposed to be hidden under the sheet with her Mum but kept dashing out to say hello to the onlookers and play with the other adults. Every now and then an extra long arm would come out of the sheet and pull her back under.

Joel loved it, especially the amount of outdoor climbing available. At the far end of the sanctuary it opened out into huge playing/picnic fields with an enormous climbing area, like nothing we'd seen before. Super high and pretty difficult Joel made short work of it with his chimp like moves (and a bit of Daddy help) All worth it for a go in a super fast bendy slide! I wonder what the monkeys made of them?

Climbing was somewhat of a theme, every time we went back to the flat (in an uber cool 1960s apartment block) Joel 'had' to climb up the ornate balustrade, shouting up the stairs "just leave the door open for me".

Hot pebbles under our feet on Lyme Regis beach.

I love the architecture there, check out the hexagonal slate tiles on the front of this house!

Love is................. The Donkey Sanctuary at Sidmouth.

The highlight of Lulworth Castle for Joel was this Postman Pat charity box, no really it was.

That and playing quoits in the castle gardens. Check out the views of Lulworth cove in the background, it was the most idyllic setting.

Hide and Seek ruled as the new game to play at any time

There were two of these lions in Bournemouth gardens, we told Joel they were sleeping and to be very careful not to wake them, however, Joels philosophy is that you haven't seen something unless you've climbed it.


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