Friday, March 03, 2006

Churchyard Charm & Other Adventures

It's been a busy couple of days. Let's see... Wednesday I spent all morning at the doctor's with Grandad. She told him that he didn't need to keep coming back for blood tests every five minutes. For some strange reason that I daresay you need to be Grandad to understand, he wasn't pleased. Wednesday afternoon Emily and I went over for a play at Romy's house. I gather they played Gladiators (of the 80's/90's Ulrika Johnsson Lightning/Shadow/Jet type, not the Roman type) upstairs, which chuffed Emily no end, as she's added that particular show to her lengthening obssession list. I think she's in love with Wolf ;-)

On Thursday morning Emily and I spent a while in a long, involved Barbie Does Gladiators session, and she made special leotards and helmets for them all. Okkaay. Then she and Jon went off to tai chi, and came back worn out again but very pleased with themselves.

Thursday afternoon Emily and I walked up to our beautiful old church and churchyard for a bit of a local history investigation. Well, actually, we ran out of time to investigate the church itself, and will go back to that another day, but we did spend several hours in the churchyard. I made up some question sheets for Emily to work on, and she seemed to really enjoy doing that. In fact, she was so at home wandering around with a clipboard she looked as if she'd been lost from a school party, lol. It was so lovely there; bright sunny afternoon, absolute peace and quiet (apart from the alarming numbers of crows), and the oldest part of the churchyard that leads into the woods was completely carpeted in snowdrops. Emily searched for the oldest gravestone she could find (1743) and the most modern (1971 - there is a new cemetery elsewhere in the village which has been in use since then); she made notes of the most common surnames and Christian names, answered questions about why some of the stones were so weathered, speculated about what might have caused some deaths, noted the graves of children in particular, and made notes about the Christian carvings and wording on many of the stones, and what that told us about the beliefs of the people buried there and their families. She also sketched her favourite memorials and completed mood/emotion charts about how she felt in the graveyard at that time, and how different she might feel if it was dark or foggy.
To begin with, Emily had an inherent sense of unease about walking among the gravestones, even though it's something she often did when she was smaller. She said she felt it was disrespectful, bless her. So we had some interesting conversations about respect, and discussed the differences between just charging about without caring vs walking quietly looking at information with interest. Eventually she agreed that the spirits of those buried there would probably be pleased that someone was taking an interest in their lives and memorials. And she was absolutely outraged when we did find a couple of stones with grafitti on!

Back at home we read a book about the history of Scotter, and were delighted to discover the background to some of the names we had noted from the churchyard, notably a family who had a line of seven gravestones together and turned out to have been owners of the manor house at some point, and the man who had by far the biggest memorial there who, we discovered, was the owner of a large chain of drapery shops the main one of which had been founded in the village in the 1800's. We also discovered that there used to be two watermills on the river here. Hmmm. Will have to go hunting. We knew about the windmill (which is still there, minus its sails) but that's the first I've heard of the watermills!

This morning we did some work on times tables for maths, and then Emily was thrilled to receive some post with a Buckingham Palace postmark. It was a lovely timeline of important events during the Queen's life, produced to celebrate her 80th birthday, apparently. I only requested a copy the day before yesterday, so that was impressive! I'm pretty apathetic about the monarchy, personally - I wouldn't particularly want to see it abolished, and I don't do the whole righteous indignation we-pay-our-taxes thing, but then again nor do I do the kow-towing to hereditary titles thing either. Take it or leave it, really, although I do have a sneaking affection for the entertainment value they provide. But Emily's interested, and the timeline was very good, definitely sparked an interest in several things mentioned on it, noticeably Anne Frank and Martin Luther King.

This afternoon, Emily and Jon have been very, very busy with a load of gardening, a big sketching session, tai chi to music and baking too. Scrummy chocolate log was produced, along with some rather good sketches from Emily; I especially liked her pig, dog's head and magical scroll!
Emily and Jon have been using The Lost Art to hone their sketching skills, and it's been a real confidence booster, recommended to anyone!

After tea with said scrummy chocolate log, Emily and I did some yoga practice but were interrupted with some Very Important News: it was snowing! With a vengeance, in fact - judging from the depth of our footprints I reckon we had a couple of inches in half an hour. Of course Emily just had to go out and play in it, even though it was dark, and even though she had no trousers on!It quickly became clear that five minutes outside the back door just wasn't going to cut it, so once suitably attired she was off for the next hour!
I don't know how she managed to stay out there that long since she had bare feet in just slip on shoes....brrrr....constitution of an ox, that girl!

Back indoors, Jon soon warmed her up with homemade cherry pancakes for supper - we missed pancake day on Tuesday, but better late than never! She's now reading Harry Potter again before falling asleep, whilst I'm typing this and trying to avoid leaving horrible feedback for the ridiculous woman who has just left negative feedback for us on ebay. Silly moo had immediate replacements for items lost in the post *yawn* but still managed to be rude, offensive and ignorant even once she's received them. I sent a frosty but *polite* reply to her raging abuse - I just don't do outright rude - but my reply was apparently was the most offensive thing she'd ever seen. Oh well - she must have led a very sheltered life. I'm working towards a dignified silence. So far.

Jon, meanwhile, is seething over an exceptionally rude email he received from an amazon customer who bought an out of print and hard to find item for the grand old price of £4.99. Due to a competitor finding new stock from somewhere, the price has been driven down in recent days - and she emailed in a tantrum because the price had dropped since she bought it. Huh? You buy something from Tescos. Next week it's on special offer. Are you outraged? (Well, I wouldn't be, but you never know, some of you may have lower tolerance levels..). You buy an item of clothing from a major retailer. Some time later they include the item in their sale. Outraged? You list something on ebay. Three days later they decide to have a half price listing day. Outraged? A supermarket publicizes the fact that it checks it's rivals prices daily and lowers its prices where appropriate. Great! You bought something the day before its rival lowered their price, so you paid 5p more. Outraged? You buy something from amazon and it later goes out of print and the price *rises* - outraged? Same situation. What's the difference? Supply and demand, anyone? Sheesh. Customers. I'm one, and I'm sure I was never this much trouble, being fully equipped with a brain, a conscience, a basic business sense and a polite command of the English language. Told her she's welcome to send the book back for a full refund if she's unhappy with the price she paid, and welcome to search for it cheaper elsewhere (we've already sold our cheaper copy) but apparently that's not good enough. Ho-hum.

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