Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Slow Return to Normality

Just as we were getting back to normal, ever so slowly, after the holiday, poor Emily's developed a stinking cold and is holed up on the settee losing her voice. Meanwhile, a hospital appointment for Grandad tomorrow morning further knocks on the head any plans I had for the week. Still, two "normal" days, Monday and Tuesday this week, is a start.

On Monday morning, Emily had a good old root around the garden, spotting new things that had burst into flower while we were away, collecting seeds from dried seed heads and investigating some weird white bugs on the kale plants. We've got a garden full of poppies of various types at the moment.I *love* poppies. Some of them, Emily grew from seed this year in little pots before we transplanted them outside. Her sunflowers have suddenly burst into life too, and the runner bean she grew in the glass, and which was transplanted into the earth before we went away, has shot up. Her pumpkins are practically taking over the vegetable patch!

One of the sunflowers has developed a strange double head; not two complete sunflower heads on the same stalk, but one large oval with two separate seed heads and sets of petals contained within it. We also have a couple of very clever sunflowers who grew accidentally (as in we didn't plant them) behind a group of poppies; they've grown horizontally along the earth right through the poppy clump before starting to grow upwards at the front once they'd found the light :-)

Emily spent a happy hour or so out in the garden drawing the life stages of poppies in her nature notebook and writing about the sunflowers. On Monday afternoon, we went to visit Hazel, Romy and Tansy, which was lovely, as we hadn't seen them for ages.

Yesterday morning Emily continued on her garden project which has somehow included birds of prey, not that we see many of those around here, alas. She read about birds of prey in general and then went off to research her chosen bird, the Merlin (what else?) on the internet, before preparing a lovely little report about the Merlin and its habitat and habits, including threats to it, illustrated with cut out pictures she'd found from various sites.

In the afternoon, we had another wander around the garden and spent some time playing with the cats out there - but just as we were about to come in, a beautiful little bright yellow bird landed in the middle of the garden. It could barely fly, so Emily rushed to get the cats shut in while Jon and I tried to catch the little bird. It must have been someone's pet canary/budgie, I should think; it certainly didn't look like a wild British bird. It's just as well we got the cats out of the way; it hopped all over the garden but really struggled with taking off. Eventually, it managed to flutter its way to the top of the garage. Jon climbed up with the cat basket, hoping it would fly into it and we could keep it pending finding out who it belonged to, but it wasn't playing that game. Sadly, we then completely lost sight of it. I hope it managed to find somewhere safe and that whoever it belongs to has been able to find it :-(

Later yesterday afternoon, Emily and I did some word play and poetry exercises from a great book I found, very cheaply, in a charity shop when we were away: To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme - Teaching Children to Write Poetry. I've seen (and tried to use) various help-kids-with-poetry type books before, but this one is by far the best I've seen; it's a long way from the fill in the blanks nonsense drivel that seems to pass for poetry teaching these days, and it's full of exercises and ideas to really encourage children to love playing with language. We barely ever touched on writing poetry when I was at school, which with adult hindsight I think was such a shame. I'm thrilled that Emily seems to love trying her hand at poetry; we must have done quite a lot of it over the last four years (and have we *really* been home educating that long??)

There's been quite a bit of reading going on; Jon has just finished reading Marco's Pendulum to Emily, which they both absolutely loved. It's very dark in places, set in Glastonbury and dealing with the myths and legends surrounding Glastonbury Tor. Very grown up stuff. They're looking forward to reading the sequel and other books by Phil Rickman. Now they're half way through Cat Kin by Nick Green, which is based on pashki, which as far as I can tell has something to do with the ancient Egyptian cat goddess Bast and the life force, chakras etc. Meanwhile, Emily's currently reading Scarlett by Cathy Cassidy, having recently finished the audio book of Dizzy and much enjoyed it; she's also starting Midnight by Jacqueline Wilson and Deep Trouble, the fourth book in the series by Debi Gliori. I'm not a huge fan of Jacqueline Wilson stuff myself; I'm sure they're well enough written, but the subject matter is always so depressing - I'm more a fantasy/mythical/magical person, I guess. Cathy Cassidy's books are also on a lot of serious themes/real life issues. Not really my cup of tea either, but Emily's really enjoying them, which is after all what counts. She seems to be developing a very varied taste in reading matter, which can only be a good thing!

[This post did have pictures, but it seems blogger isn't playing fair today. I'll have to re-add them later]

Monday, July 14, 2008

St Bees: A Holiday in Photographs

We're back from an amazing holiday. It poured with rain on and off - very British! - but it was the most relaxed I've been for years and we've all returned home bursting with positivity :-)) Highlights included fossil hunting, a picnic in torrential rain at a deserted lake, feeding seagulls on an empty beach under stormy skies, playing dams and wildlife parks on the beach, mixing ground rock potions, watching Prince Caspian at the cinema, visiting the Beacon in Whitehaven and hunting through the charity shops in Keswick, watching Jon and Emily sensing the energy at a stone circle, lots of card and board games, lots of wind, lots of laughter.

I took photos. Lots and lots and lots of photos, all clickable if you want to see one larger. Indulge of the things I (re?)discovered on holiday was a love of photography. Some of these were just quick "record the moment" snaps and some were more thought out...... I'm quite pleased with lots of them :-))