Wednesday, 17 December 2008

conflict resolution

Yesterday there were a couple of moments with the children both at school and at childminding where I was stunned by how effective my conflict resolution techniques were. Anyone who has spent any amount of time with children knows that they are never as co-operative as you would like them to be, and that in the midst of an argument, the last thing they often want to do is to listen to you talking to them about how they should have dealt with the situation.

One of the things I have been learning more and more as a result of working in a nursery class of 3 and 4 year olds is that managing emotions is something that has to be taught. Children don't just know how they should respond when something has made them sad, or what they should say to the person who has made them sad is. That might sound simple, but it has been an amazing discovery.

So, back to the conflict resolution....I hate calling it that - it sounds rather clinical, when in reality what I am doing is what I described above - helping children to be loving towards one another in the way they interact. I spotted two girls fighting over a crocodile. It hadn't got to the screaming / crying / fisticuffs stage yet, but I could see it headed in that direction. So I went and said something a bit like this:

'Pip, why are you pulling the crocodile away from Lucy?'
Pip: 'Because I was playing with it first.'
Hannah: 'Well, it looks to me like Lucy would like to play with it too, and we share our toys at school, don't we?'
Pip: Nods.
Hannah: 'Lucy, if you wanted to play with the crododile and you could see that Pip was already playing with it, what do you think you could have said to her, instead of just trying to take it from her?'
Lucy: 'Please can I play with the crocodile?'
Hannah: 'Brilliant! And Pip, what could you say to Lucy if she asked you nicely like that?'
Pip: 'ok'
Hannah: 'So Lucy, do you want to say to Pip what you just said to me?'
Lucy: 'Please can I play with the crocodile?'
Pip: 'Ok, but just for a little while.'
And off they ran. It might sound like a very small thing, but it was a wonderful moment.

I've changed the names of the children involved to protect their identity.

Friday, 12 December 2008

words to treasure

Yesterday Grace & I had one of those precious moments that make working with children an even more wonderful thing. As she was cutting out red fondant icing letters for her cake for the Christmas competition and I was multi-tasking, making her macaroni cheese and helping with the cake, she said,

'Hannah I wish you could be our nanny forever because you do so many lovely things with us.'

To which I responded,

'I am sure that when you have a new nanny, she will do just as many lovely things with you.'

Grace: 'Nope. No-one will do as much lovely stuff as you.'

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

the kindness of strangers

Sometimes it feels like my memory does not serve me particularly well. On this occasion I am thinking with regard to Winter from one year to the next. I don't know about you, but we have had a whole lot of ice & frost here in Bristol over the last couple of weeks. I don't remember having so much before, and people are saying we haven't seen frosts like this in years. So anyway, the ice is a hazard. A big, dangerous hazard. Yesterday, I fell off my bike on the way to work. Twice. In the space of 15 minutes. And it hurt. And I cried like a school girl who's fallen over in the playground.

On both occassions, someone came running to see if I was alright. The first time, a neighbour (yes, that is right, I had been on my bike for two seconds after leaving my house before falling off) came running out in her pyjamas and a coat to see if I was ok. She heard my cries from inside her house! Yes, that is also right. I am not shy of sitting in the middle of the road, crying. Apparently the last time she fell off her bike, she nearly ended up in the docks, but was saved by a wheelie bin. Slightly more dramatic than my fall.

Needless to say, after falling off a second time, I turned up at work in a bit of a sorry state and rather bruised and sore. I got offered two cups of tea. Seriously, what is so good about this drink that, to me tastes like soil, that means that it is fit for every eventuality? I don't get it.

I was really thankful to those women who showed a little bit of compassion. There are a lot of people who wouldn't have bothered, and who would have been embarassed by my tears and sobbing.

Friday, 5 December 2008

bathed in light & colour

This photo does not even come near to doing the beauty of this sunset justice. I would have missed it, had I not popped outside to do the recycling at that moment. It was the most stunning sunset I have seen in a long while.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

birds flying high

deck the halls

So, Christmas fun is offically underfoot - there has been present buying, making & baking. I thoroughly enjoyed using my sewing machine over the weekend to make some Christmas cards and a few presents.

Here is the fabric layered up and ready to go. This pile is now somewhat depleated.



I would quite happily while away my days sewing all kinds of treats.

Yesterday Grace's school was closed, due to the heating being broken, so we spent the afternoon making these little decorations....


...and baking 'hard boiled biscuits.' Grace got a little muddled with the name - they're actually called stained glass biscuits - you use hard boiled sweets to give a stained glass effect, hence the confusion.

If ever you need a bit of stress relief while working with kids and happen to have some hard boiled sweets and a hammer to hand, they provide the perfect combination. (I wasn't actually in need of stress relief - the thought just occurred to me as I was bashing & smashing away, how it would be a good thing to do if ever in need of some time away from the kids without actually being able to get away from them - this would be the perfect remedy.)

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

is he real?

Yesterday on the way home from school we were talking a little about Christmas. I think the conversation was about how Father Christmas brings all the presents. Grace, the wonderful 8 year old said to me, 'Now Hannah, is Father Christmas actually real?'
The thoughts that preceded my answer went a little like this...

'No of course he is not real - my little sister got this at the age of 4 and declared it to the silly women on the train to Scotland who were trying to convince her he's real. I am not going to lie to you but, oh help, I could be about to shatter all your illusions and bring your little world crashing down around you, and I'll have to pick up the pieces....'

So I said,

'Do you want to know the truth?'

Grace & Will: Yes

Hannah: 'No he is not real.'

To my surprise, neither of them were upset or particularly bothered by this. Phew. Grace simply asked, 'But who brings all the presents?' To which I responded, in true 'I-work-with-children- so-always-throw-a-question-back-at-them-to-get-them-to-think-style', 'Who do you think brings them?'

Grace: 'Mummy and Daddy?'

Hannah: 'Yep.'

That was far easier than expected.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Hellrunner.

So, the day which had been filling me with nerves & getting into my dreams, finally dawned on Sunday 16th November. Hellrunner time. Fourth half marathon in fourteen month, only with a bit more of a twist than the last three. Running through bogs, up and down sand dunes and away from roads, on a military training base where signs heralded, 'Caution: Military firing range...If you see a military object, do not step on it, it will explode.' Or something along those lines.

There was a wonderful atmosphere about the setting - aside from the guy bellowing down a microphone, 'You asked for hell - we're giving you hell!!!' Well, not exactly, but ok. It was a much smaller affair than the big city marathons, which I loved. Fireworks went off as the starting gun fired, along with a whole lot of wooping from runners & supporters alike.

In all honesty, it was the most fun run I have ever done. While it was lovely to have lots of supporters along the whole route running in Bath & Bristol, it was actually quite nice to be running alongside fellow runners but away from the crowds. It's amazing once you get into deep conversation how quickly 12 miles can go.

The bogs were a highly comical experience. There really is no way you can run through murky stinking water that comes up to your shoulders, so you just wade on through, trying not to trip over branches that lie in wait unsuspectingly underfoot. So I looked quite a sight, emerging from the stinking swamp, with just the tops of my shoulders showing the true gleaming white colour of my t-shirt, and the rest of me rather blackened. Beautiful.

After finishing the run, we made our way to a very lovely pub nearby - the Jolly Farmer - for some much needed grub. They served the fattest sausages I have ever eaten. (Other than the sausages the children have been making at school this week with playdough, though I hasten to add that I have not eaten those ones.) With contented bellies & slightly weary bodies, we made our way back to Bristol, and had (though I can only speak for myself) the best night's sleep in a long time. Good times.

i'll chase the stars & you can paint the moon


Today on the way home from school we were talking about how dark it was and she said how the stars help us to see at night. At this point, Grace said, 'Please can you hold my bag while I chase the stars?' She wanted to see if she could catch up with them. And she caught one. While I am all up for telling children the facts, there are moments like these with children that I love. Stand back and watch their imagination run wild...

This photo is one I took of the moon in my first year at university, standing on a high up balcony in my student house, gazing up at a deep blue sky and waving my camera around, painting the moon.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

thankful for the little things...

I am thankful for this day - a day of rest - that has given me time to...

:: Drink huge mugs of coffee with a precious friend

:: Peruse the books in Borders

:: Watch Little Dorrit

:: Read my new Recipe Book

:: Create

:: Cook a little

:: Be inspired

:: ...and rest.

Tomorrow shall not be so restful. Tomorrow, it's time for Hellrunner. Oh help.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

a beautiful afternoon

There are some afternoons which I happily cherish. Yesteday was one of them. It was a crisp Autumn day, the sun was shining, the trees looked stunning and the children were in a lovely mood. So we stopped at the rope swing on the way home. The kids swung to their heart's content, and made leaf piles to run through. What more could you want from a walk home from school?




Monday, 3 November 2008

A November Day

To give the kids some fresh air today, I took them over the road to the Downs - a big old expanse of green goodness. We took a couple of kites with us - one stunt kite, one tiny-weeny-small enough to fit in your pocket-kite. The children wanted to fly their kites in the middle of a circle of young trees they've named 'the seven sisters'. Even with my lack of common sense, I knew it would not be a good idea to fly the kites here. So we moved just to the left of them. Before we could start our kite-flying-fun, Grace wanted to find out the age of the trees. She informed me that you did this by listening to them, and proceeded to hug the tree (as above). I, in my ignorance, asked, 'how can you tell how old it is by listening?' Apparently, you'll hear the tree whisper, '7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 or 1.' Lovely.

As I was starting to assemble the kite, Katie, the oldest of the three who has got her head vert well screwed on, and frequently outsmarts me, started calling my name in a slightly panicked voice. This was a rare moment. Rising to the occasion of being needed, I ran over and asked what the problem was. To which Katie pointed to her leg, where she had managed to get a whole piece of dog poo on her. I have no idea how on earth she managed this. Neither does she. So I was champion-Hannah and removed the offending article, making no fuss whatsoever. Gross. That's all I can say.

More great antics were had, as we managed to get the kite stuck in the tree. I was not worried, I was confident we could get it down. All that was needed was a little tree climbing and I was well up for it. So, with a little leg-up from Katie, I launched myself over the lowest avaliable branch of the tree. I'd like to point out here that this wasn't really a tree-climbing tree, but a kite needed rescuing, and I was the lady for the job. Or not, as it turned out. While I was bent in half over the branch, wiggling and wriggling in an attempt to get my feet up, but only being successful in getting my hair caught in the pines of the tree, with Katie giggling at the whole charade (as was I, which did not aid my efforts to hoist myself up), Will had somehow managed to free the kite. Not the champion-Hannah-for-the-second-time-around that I had hoped to be. All good fun though.

Friday, 31 October 2008

come away with me

This morning the sun was shining gloriously in its Autumn splendour and all I wanted to do was go out and breathe in the crisp air and capture the moments & colours of Autumn on camera....Sadly this did not happen. I have run out of ordinary film - I only have black and white and some very low speed colour at the moment. So, in order to combine a run with purchasing some film, I donned my running gear & my rucksack with camera and lenses packed, and set out for the supermarket.

My plan was to buy some film then run to Oldbury Court Estate to snap, snap away, then read in the sunshine. I had even planned to process my film this very day, then scan in my shots because I can do that from the comfort of my own home these days, and share my morning adventure with you.

However, it was not to be. It was not as though disaster struck. My plan simply got thwarted by my other plans, my common sense (or is it foolishness that says, 'get on with the things that need to be done'), and the annoyance of my rucksack bouncing up and down and inhibiting the movement of my arms as I ran. All the while I had been planning the adventure I have just described, I had that list (although somewhat jumbled, as is always the case in my brain) going round my head of all the little jobs I wanted to get done today, and knew that I would achieve far less in terms of my list if I were to go on this run and take the time to enjoying this beautiful time of year which does not last long enough.

So, rather than carry on running, I turned around and came home. No film, no photos, no lasting evidence of this beautiful day.

Sometimes I wish it was possible for our brains to only think of one thing at a time. For much of my waking hours, I am thinking about three or more things. Like right now, I'm thinking as I type of whether I am going to read before going to bed, and if so, which of the three books I have on the go should I read. Is this simply a female problem, a human problem, an issue of indecisiveness or lack of ability to organise my time well? Is this something we develop in adulthood as a result of losing our childish ignorance and having growing responsibility? If so, is that ignorance such a bad thing if it means you enjoy life more?

Maybe I am rambling far too much about this, but it helps me to think to type it all out. And I feel I need to because it bothers me that I am doing what I do not want to do - I am letting other things (which could, in reality wait just a little longer) get in the way of enjoying the here and now, even if that is just going outside to enjoy the sun and the beautiful colours of Autumn.

Photo taken 4 years ago at Westonbirt Arboretum on my first trip there. It took my breath away.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

my two latest charges

I'd like to introduce you to Shadow & Dusty. The children are away so instead, I have the guinea pigs. And oh how lovely they are. (To play with, not eat, that is, John!) They are 9 weeks old and cool as can be. Dusty is way more chilled out than any of my guinea pigs ever were, and Shadow likes the shutter sound of the camera on my phone - he made that purring-shaking contented noise each time I took a photo. They do not, however, like the sound of my voice. I had just tucked the two lovely warm bundles away in my jacket to put back in their hutch when Jo rang. The whole time I was on the phone to her they squeaked away (still inside my jacket - perfect substitutes for a hot water bottle - except when they poo on you). Then the second I got off the phone, the squeaking stopped. Maybe I need to work on my ability to speak guinea pig instead of human, and they'll stop squeaking at me.

my latest challenge


There's something about this running malarchy...I don't quite know what but it's starting to get me to do crazy things at an alarming frequency. On November 16th, just 2 months after the Bristol half marathon, I'm going to be taking part in Hellrunner. A 12 mile trail run at Longmoor Camp which is an army training base. As if that doesn't say enough what kind of a run I'm in for, every photo and you tube video available from this run features people plastered in mud or wading through waist-deep rivers. This is taking running to a whole other level for me.

Am I prepared for it? Well, according to the man in the running shop, 'nothing can prepare you for that!' Well, I suppose that's encouraging! So yesterday I did a 10 mile run with Dan, the one responsible for me doing this, and ended up with a nice set of fat blisters, thanks to my new trail running shoes. It's going to be fun! It's just a shame no-one will be there to provide photographic evidence of me doing it.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

birthday fun and other things

The weekend saw the start of my 24th year of being alive. I had lots of fun and felt very spoilt by my wonderful friends. The afternoon was spent pottery painting. The evening was spent at the pub - it was great to have Adam (pictured left) here - he spent last year in Bristol doing FP with myself, Sarah (also pictured left) & Hazel. So it was a like the good old times having him here.

Yesterday afternoon I spent a couple of hours looking after 2 boys from church. They spent about 45 minutes playing Yu-gi-oh! which is a card game that I totally didn't understand. When you have a card called 'Air hummingbird special ability' I just think of a cake, not a game.

It got me thinking about how for much of my time, I inhabit the world of childhood, but not be a part of it, because it is not my childhood. That has passed and cannot be recaptured. Not that I feel like it needs to be, but it was just an interesting moment when I realised that I really am quite far removed from 'childhood' as such, despite working with children every day. There are many things that have changed since I was a wee lass, many new games and fads that have come and gone that I don't have a clue about. Yet it never ceases to amaze me, the number of things that remain the same. Like nursery rhymes. All nurseries still sing the same old classics. But then I suppose it's not that ususual, as practitioners are simply putting into practice the things that remained with them from their childhood, and it's not an area that can really be changed by the market, unlike children's toys and games...hmmm...not really a profound thought, but just one that I thought I'd share.

Here is what my efforts produced (pre-firing...)

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Hilltains or Hountains?

Yesterday the walk home from school was particulary fun and entertaining. As we skipped along under the bright blue sky with the Autumn wind in our hair, we sang a little ditty. About being naked. Hmmmm I am slightly dubious about what they teach in schools these days. It went like this..

I wear my pink pyjamas in the summer when it's hot,
I wear my flannel nighty in the winter when it's not,
And sometimes in the springtime, and sometimes in the fall,
I jump into my bed with nothing on at all

Then we sang the old harvest classic,

Cauliflowers fluffy, cabbages green,
Strawberries sweeter than any I've seen,
Beetroots purple and onions ripe
All grow steadily day and night...

And so on. I think you know how the rest of it goes.

The rest of my day was spent making Grace's bowling alley cake. I was quite proud of myself - I made royal icing for the first time ever, and it was not as complicated as I thought it might be. It was the most brilliant shiny pink colour, which makes it even better.

On our way home we often inform one another of stories in the news, like about the Hadron particle accelerator, men in jetpacks, and yesterday, a hill that turned into a mountain when you walk down it. or something. Hence the title of this post - Grace said she thought that hills that turn into mountains should be called hountains, or maybe hilltains. Personally I prefer hountains. What do you think?

I had an interview this morning which required me to choose a book to read to a group of year 1 children. So at small group on Tuesday as an ice breaker I asked everyone what their favourite children's book is and why. There were some good old classics in the list, like winnie the pooh, dogger, elmer the elephant, thomas the tank engine, the hungry caterpillar and the lion the witch and the wardrobe. I have trouble thinking of a favourite, but I have a few memories that spring to mind when thinking about children's books.

1) I remember curling up on Mum & Dad's bed, John and I sat either side of Mum, and her reading the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to us.

2) The first time I picked up 'Each Peach, Pear Plum' by Janet & Allen Ahlberg, I had a distinct recollection of asking Mum to read the names of the author as well as the title and all the words of the book. I still know the whole book off by heart.

3) I remember reading 'Dogger' and feeling a real sadness when Dave lost his dog, because I knew he'd left it at the school fete, so I really just wanted him to go back and find it, so he wouldn't be sad anymore.

4) This isn't a book, but I have very fond memories of Dad coming in to tell Ben his bedtime story, and hearing another episode of 'Hettie, Lettie and Bettie' the three chickens. I loved those stories. Thanks for that memory Dad.

Here are a few photos from my birthday making and baking fun for Grace...




There was also a picture of the bowling pins that I made out of fondant icing, but it got lost in blogger upload cyberspace. Right, I'm off to make some chocolate roses for another birthday cake - one I've been commissioned to make which is rather exciting!

Monday, 13 October 2008

eat well

On the menu for lunch today was pumpkin & haricot bean soup. I am slightly ashamed to admit that it was not homemade. Coming from a family where my wonderfully talented and dedicated mother would invariably make soup over buying it, I wish I could proudly say that I had made this. I do often make my own soup, just not this week. The bread was homemade, however, even if it was in my trusty breadmaker rather than by hand. I think that merits some domesticated points!

my slightly alternative pain au chocolat

Yesterday I had some lovely friends round for lunch and cooked goat's cheese tarts with leeks and bacon. For dessert there were two options: dorset apple cake or meringue topped with drizzled chocolate, whipped cream and raspberries. The latter recipe stated way too much chocolate than what was actually needed, so I had a lot of melted Divine chocolate which is just too precious to waste, and a chunk of pastry remaining. So, I came up with the idea of making pain au chocolat for my breakfast. Not as good as the real thing as the pastry was not all-butter, but still a treat, none the less.

Friday, 10 October 2008

yesterday

There are some days which are oh so incredibly busy, but rather than that being a source of stress, they can be a source of joy. Yesterday was one of those days. Having completely forgotten to set my alarm, I awoke feeling like I'd had a good night's sleep, rather than with that sicky feeling which comes when the alarm goes of that little bit too early and your body is not yet ready to start the day. Then I realised I only had 30 minutes before needing to hop on to my trusty bike, whizz up the hill and do the school run for a friend. Well, I managed it, and enjoyed pushing myself on the cycle ride. I am relishing the fact that this (pushing myself) comes ever so slightly easier at this time of year when Autumn is rolling in with some beautiful sunny mornings, but crisp air which means I don't get as hot and makes my lungs feel like they are taking onboard gallons more oxygen than usual. I am relishing it because I know it will not be long before I'm cycling up those hills with gritted teeth against the lashing wind and rain rather than with a smile on my face and the wind in my hair.

Back to my enjoyably busy day...Having done the school run and met some lovely mum's, I popped into the hairdressers & had a little too much hair cut off before going to a coffee shop where I planned to make use of wi-fi, and finish filling in a job application. Turns out you have to pay for wi-fi. So instead, I drank my coffee while reading 'The Heavenly Man' by Brother Yun. Incredible man, incredible book, incredibly challenging. Then I deliberated as to whether or not I really did need to go home to pick up some more suitable trousers for my physio appointment, which was just down the road from where I sat drinking coffee. I made the decision to go home, even though it meant adding another 3 or so miles on to my cycling quota for the day. Although it was good in that it meant I got another job application completed, printed and enveloped up, it also meant that I turned up to my physio appointment not looking as cool, calm and collected as I would perhaps have liked, as I had been under a rather tight time frame. (Who am I kidding? I am not entirely sure whether I will ever turn up anywhere in this manner.)

45 minutes worth of back cracking later, I strolled in the sunshine to the bank, and the inevitable happened. That is, the inevitable thing which occurs when I go out into bright sunlight. I start sneezing. Yes, brothers and mother, I know you are still disbelieving cynics on this one, but I can assure you that the sun really does make me sneeze. To add proof, there was an old man sitting outside a pub soaking up the sunshine, who just so happened to be privy to my sneezing fit. I looked over to him, and he smiled knowingly, and said, 'it's the sun.' Thankyou. I did indeed stop to thank this wise man, and to tell him that I have brothers who refuse to believe that the sun makes me sneeze. He had great sympathy. I reckon he's come up against his fair share of unbelievers in his time.

I was planning to write about more of my day, but I am just too tired. Goodnight.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

quote of the day

This was meant to be written and posted on Thursday but I have been such a busy little bee, there has been no time for blogging. So I am taking a break from my day's baking to write.

[Baked so far today: 1 lemon pound cake, 2 batches of brownies, maple & pecan cupcakes, ginger cake & carrot cake...]

On Wednesday, I had the privilege of working at a nursery for the morning. It was refreshing to work with some lovely friendly nursery nurses - often as a temp you just get ignored. And the children, well, let me tell you about a few of them who captured my heart...

I spent half an hour or so in the home corner with my group, and the first place that Ben went to was the cradle with the babies. He chose one and put a nappy on it (with some assistance), and generally took very good care of the little one while he made some phone calls and multi-tasked like a true toddler should. Then Finn, the blonde haired blue eyed beautiful boy with a cute little lisp, started throwing around one of the babies and beating it over the head with a hammer. Not so cool. After telling Finn that babies needed to be loved and cared for, I then turned to Ben, still cradling the baby and said, 'you could definitely teach Finn a thing or two about looking after babies. Have you got a little brother or sister at home?' To which he responded with slight anxiety, 'It's a secret!' I'm thinking his mummy's pregnant but not many people know about it yet, so he's been sworn to secrecy. Having twigged this, I said, 'is there a baby in your mummy's tummy?' Again he said, but with even greater anxiety, 'it's a secret!'
I thought it best to leave the conversation there before I made the poor child feel incredibly guilty for sharing a secret, which he hadn't actually been responsible for divulging.

Ben then went on to pretend to be a dinosaur. One of the things I love about the way children play is that it's as though it is all real. So the children reacted as though he really was a dinosaur. His roar started getting pretty loud and started to scare the girls, who started saying, 'I don't like dinosaurs!!!' Then Finn, the little legend, donned in a pair of oven gloves, without even feeling the need to turn around and confront the dinosaur face on, says, 'ssshhh! I'm doing the cooking, don't you know?!'

I was thoroughly impressed at his lack of fear. A little later on, Finn asked if he could sing a song to everyone. He got up and sang,

'I'm not scared of dinosaurs, I'm not scared of dinosaurs, la, la, la, (can't remember more words) this is my jungle.'

And there we have it, the essence of Finn's lack of fear of dinosaurs - he's the king of the jungle.

For lunch, the children had chicken tikka. Lara was coming up with metaphors for things that rice is like, none of which I could quite understand. Then Millie pipes up and says, 'Rice is not like octopus tongue.'
Que?!!! This definitely isn't the first thing that springs to mind when thinking about what rice is not like. I said, 'Octopus tongue? Where have you had octopus tongue?'
Millie then looked at me with that expression that I see frequently in children that says, 'gosh, don't these grown ups know anything?!' and very matter-of-fact-ly said, 'At my Dad's.' Ah of course. I should have known all along.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

pudding of the day: plum tray bake with a cheesecake swirl


...or should I say procrastination of the day?

children are wondeful

With the start of a new school year for the children I look after, has come a whole new set of clubs to join. Grace, being the enthusiastic little lass that she is, loves to be a part of as much of possible, so has joined the circus skills club, art and craft club and two choirs. Add to this her guitar lessons and the extra curricular activities of her other siblings, we have one busy timetable.

Wednesday is the busiest day of the week for them, so my afternoon went a little like this…

3pm: Take a shed load of books that Grace and I have sorted out in her room to the charity shop and double the size of my biceps in the process.

3:30: Collect Will from school, Chat with Kate & Emma from church and realize that while I have taken my eyes away from Will, he has been playing with another boy, and the father of this boy is now crouching down talking to Will. My immediate assumption – Will’s hurt this boy and I haven’t witnessed it because I’ve been talking. Not a good excuse. So I go over to get the down-low, and the Dad assured me it was all fine and he was just pre-empting the inevitable consequences of boys playing ‘games’ that involve kicking. No-one was hurt. Good good. 60 seconds later, the boys have gone behind a wooden structure so are out of view. I call to Will, saying we need to go home, walk towards the structure to find the other boy sobbing. Without even needing to ask, I look at Will and he says, with a fierce, solemn expression on his face, ‘he threw grass in my eyes.’ ‘So what did you do?’ comes my response. ‘I kicked him.’

I am finding that warning children about the inevitable outcome that you as an adult can foresee before it happens, just isn’t good enough. If you don’t want the inevitable to happen, you have to stop them, otherwise it will happen.

4pm Pop into Waitrose on the way home to pick up some butter to make caramel shortbread – Katie’s favourite.

4.15: Collect the horse chestnut’s daily offerings of conkers.

4.17: Listen to Will read his whole school book with great ease and great speed. Ever since introducing the incentive of 1 Gogo for every time he reads, it’s the first thing he does when he gets in from school. Brilliant.

4.20: Make Will his tea whilst simultaneously weighing out the ingredients for the shortbread base and giving Katie instructions about how to rub-in, how to grease and line a tin, and when to get the shortbread out the oven. At this point I’m realizing I should perhaps have held fire on the shortbread making, but I had planned to do it and was determined.

4.35: Leave to pick up Grace from her club and take her to her guitar lesson.

4.38: Realise I’ve forgotten her guitar and music and whizz back on my bike to get them.

4.30: (When I should now be at school getting Grace, I am thankful that I have a speedy bike, but am wishing I could fly or get to the school by teleportation. Am apologizing a thousand times over to Grace in my head – for being late.

4.45: Am rounding the corner to school on my bike when I see Grace with her friend and her friend’s Mum, who I have got to know quite well over the last few months. She had the common sense to start walking in the hope that they would find me, which they did. Thankyou very much, you kind, kind lady. Grace then presents me with a bunch of beautiful paper flowers that she has just spent the last hour crafting and says, ‘They’re for you.’ I feel very special.

5pm Get back to the house and make the caramel layer for the shortbread.

5.20: Struggle slightly to get Will out the door to pick up his sister, but he ends up being wonderfully co-operative and whizzes to Charlie’s house (the guitar teacher) on his scooter at break-neck speed. He most definitely set a personal record. What a legend.

5.30: walk home at a leisurely pace and start to make plans with Grace for her birthday cake. It’s going to be an elaborate affair – a bowling alley with 3D bowling balls and bowling pins, and muffins that spell out happy birthday, and some extra muffins too. (I had as much to do with the quantity of cake here as she did. What can I say? I love to bake and I love a baking challenge.)

5.45: Make Grace’s tea while she starts sketching out more detailed plans for the cakes. Start designing invites.

Bedtime antics ensued and the rest of the evening was spent bathing, doing Soduku with Grace instead of a bedtime story, melting the chocolate for the caramel shortbread which I had totally forgotten about, but Katie most definitely hadn't, running up and down three flights of stairs to get forgotten milk and blue cow for Will, going into the downstairs toilet to discover that Will had done a wee. In the bin. Fun times.

I should probably add that when I mentioned the latter incident to Will's Mum she said that they have a leaky cistern so it was probably that, but I thought the story was slightly amusing and more interesting, so I thought I'd tell it.

Oh yes, and here's the flowers that Grace made me....

cute little note

Next to William's 'book folder' (I keep getting corrected by him for calling it his book bag) I found a postcard and on the back read this little message...(apologies for the poor quality photo - it was all my phone could manage.)


It reads, 'To William, do you like me. Love Mya' I like it. I have yet to ask Will if he's sent her a reply.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

i love to cook

Today has been a great day. The lovely family I childmind for decided that it would be good to give me some extra work and so suggested I cook for them. Well, I didn't have to think twice about that one. So this morning I came up with a meal plan, and in the process of looking at recipes, found one that was perfect for my own dinner. So as I cooked up some carrot and creme fraiche soup for my luncheon I whipped up some potato, leek, and cheese cakes for tea time. They might not sound particularly exciting but they were surprisingly tasty. While I was on a roll, I made some apple crumble, then cycled off to the house I childmind at and cooked up a big old lasagne.

As Grace and I walked home from school we made plans to bake some dough balls with garlic butter for an after school snack later this week. Ah the joys of cooking and eating...

Sunday, 14 September 2008

just keep running...


I realised the other day that I have not really kept a record of my training for the Bristol Half Marathon. I also realised that I have been 'in training' for the last nine months as I didn't take a break from running between completing the Bath Half in March and deciding to run the Bristol Half again. In some ways, training has just become part of my normal routine. However that is not to say that it has been easy. Some days it felt like I was pulling my body through a sludgy swamp. This time round I've felt the physical effects of running on my body, with achey knees and a back that feels like it's compacting, I feel like I'm wearing my body out too quickly.


Having been struck with a stinking cold and a hacking cough for the last 8 days, I knew that I was unlikely to be running like road-runner, but have been telling myself I can do it, it's all about mind over matter. The day started misted and cold, changing to glorious sunshine by 8.30am. Not the best conditions for running in. I felt pretty calm - I seem to have got the hang of not allowing nerves to get to me on the race day as I know there's no need to be nervous - and so enjoyed the atmosphere created by 16,000 runners getting ready to run the 13.1 miles. As I lined up at the start line, it was lovely to have my friend's 4 year old daughter Phoebe (one of my favourite children) shouting my name from the sideline.


I started off well, running 8 minute miles for the first 8 miles which I totally had not anticipated doing, so took myself by surprise. But I could not sustain this speed so slowed down to a more leisurely 9 minute miles. It's quite amazing how the last 3 miles feel like they're getting longer and longer - by the last 1 I was so desperate to see the finish line, and so, so thankful to finish, as my head had started feeling rather fuzzy by this point. I walked the 40 metres to collect my medal and goodie bag (providing me with some much needed chocolate) in a total daze. I seemed to have lost control of my legs and so was totally unable to walk in a straight line. I don't think I have ever craved food as much as I do when I run half marathons!


I made one slight mistake and did what all the training programmes and running magazines tell you not to do - I wore a new pair of shorts that I bought yesterday - which made for some rather nasty chaffing : (

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Marbles...

There are many times when looking after children that I marvel and wonder at my memories of growing up which come to mind. I am frequently reminded of how wonderful my mum is and just how incredible she was dealing with the constant issues of discipline as we were growing up. There are so many small things in the day to day business of caring for children that it would be so easy to let slip, and although the consequences would not be catastrophic, these things are still important. Like constantly reminding children to wash their hands after going to the toilet and saying please and thankyou when asking for things or when asked a question. Like teaching them not to speak with their mouth full and setting a good example yourself...

Then there are times when I wonder in sheer astonishment at the words and advice coming out of my own mouth. Times when I think, 'what on earth are you saying? what kind of awful advice are you giving to this child?' I had one of these moments yesterday when I was playing marbles with Toby, the 4 year old son of a family at church who I've had the pleasure of looking after for a couple of days this week. So, we were happily playing marbles, and I was relishing in my reminiscing of childhood fun playing this very game. I can still remember which were my favourite marbles, and the ones that I would never want to play with and were too beautiful to play with. Toby was just the same in that he had his favourites, but the difference was he would roll them out and then get sad when I won them. After losing one of his favourites to me for the umteenth time, he'd had enough of losing and burst into tears. Sometimes when children cry, it just makes me want to laugh because they look so funny. (Is that just me, because if so, I think I must be a pretty mean lady.) I was thinking, 'what do I do to stop him crying? we've been through the whole, 'it's only a game and they're only marbles so it doesn't really matter', and that line never works anyway, so why on earth do I carry on using it, and I've reasoned with him that he wins some of my pretty ones too so surely it's all fair, but that doesn't really sit with him..' and so these were the words that came out of my mouth...

Hannah: 'Toby, if the marbles could talk, what do you think they would say?'

Toby: crying lessens and he just looks at me, as if saying, ' I'm not going to say anything and give you some time to explain your way out of this ridiculous idea...'

Hannah: Now thinking, 'oh hannah, where are you going to go with this one?!' If the marbles could talk, I think they'd say, 'Toby don't cry, I'm only a marble and I don't mind if you lose me to Hannah because I'll still be with all of my other marble friends so won't be lonely.'

Toby: But marbles can't talk.

Hannah: thinking, 'what happened to using your imagination?!' I know they can't actually talk but we're just pretending...

By this point I think Toby was so fed up of my ridiculous talk that he had stopped crying and was ready to continue playing. Almost as soon as we started playing again, he lost his favourite marbles, and so the whining started again. It was at this point that I balked at my advice that followed...

Hannah: 'Toby, if losing your favourite marbles makes you sad, can I make a suggestion? Why don't you just keep hold of them rather than playing with them? Then you can't lose them and get upset.'

Basically I was advising him to be possessive over materialistic things to avoid being sad! What was I saying! Le's just hope he doesn't take it to heart...

Another funny conversation I had with children this week was when Grace, Will and I were walking back from school. Will needed the toilet so Grace suggested we run to get there quicker. Will said he couldn't run when he needed to go, and the conversation got on to why it is not good for you to wait for a long time when you really need the loo. I explained how it weakens your bladder muscles and they didn't quite understand. So I came up with an analogy of Will holding a big rock to explain it. He totally understood it, and I had to chuckle inwardly at how satisfying I had found the whole experience of explaining why our bladder muscles weaken!!! oh dear...

...hmmmm


Saturday, 6 September 2008

Quite incredible

This weekend sees the annual organic food festival in Bristol. I have always wanted to go, but for one reason or another, have never made it. I was due to miss it again this year, as I had been planning on going camping in Cornwall, but made the rather wise decision (in my opinion) to stay at home. Quite frankly, I've had enough of camping in the rain this year, and I didn't help my cold which is now in full flow.

So, I got to go to the Organic food festival. One of the stalls I was particularly keen on visiting was The Organic Chocolate Cake Company who have a wonderful business totally tucked away in a place called High Kingsdown. I would love to work for them. So they were the first stall I visited and was excited to arrive just as they had piled up a load of chocolately crumbs onto a napkin and asked who wanted them. Needless to say, I was the first to say, 'ooh yes please!' It was as I put these quality chocolate crumbs into my mouth, ready to savour the cakes that I have admired from afar for so long, that I realised my stinking cold had robbed me of all ability to taste anything! I was gutted. There were so many quality food products available for my little taste buds to delight in, but I just couldn't appreciate any of it. However, one thing I did appreciate was a sight that my eyes have never beheld before. Take a look and see for yourselves...

Yes, this lady is in fact knitting. With 50 balls of wool.


And she holds a world record! Well, it kind of goes without saying, doesn't it? It's not every day you go round someone's house and seeing them sitting on their sofa knitting with needles that are 3.5 metres long, is it?

Friday, 5 September 2008

a little worrying

Oh gosh. I just started making an apple crumble and remembered one of my dreams last night. Please don't laugh. I dreamed about le creuset dishes and how wonderful they are. I would absolutely love to own some of these dishes but they cost about an arm and a leg, so there's no chance. They are quite beautiful, though, aren't they?

Activity of the week...

I've had a fun week's worth of childminding, which has been wonderful after doing very little for the past couple of weeks. The family I work for have a big old apple tree in their garden and the apples have come earlier than anticipated this year, and in great abundance. So I have done a whole lot of peeling, cutting, stewing and delivering apples. Probably about three hours worth.

They have far more than they know what to do with, so I was very happy to relieve them of a few pounds worth. Now I have more than I know what to do with, but have plans to make Devon apple cake, Mile High Apple Pie (a children's book which when I read it the first time it brought tears to my eyes and had the added bonus of giving a recipe), apple cake, and some other appley treats!

Thursday, 28 August 2008

August Antics

This week I have had the pleasure of having my friend Amy staying. I met her four years ago when I was in Melbourne and she's come to England to spend some time studying. Yesterday we went to Stonehenge and other various little villages in Salisbury with names like Tytherington. We had a picnic by the side of the road, wrapped up good and proper - the rays of the summer sun were just so hardcore that we felt the need to wear more rather than less clothes. Pah. If only. Where is the sun??????????

On Thursday we tired ourselves out thoroughly with a cycle ride to Bath, followed by some punting on the River Avon and a homemade cream tea - I baked some maple syrup scones before we left and took along a pot of clotted cream and some jam. We ate our scones while on the boat to the boating station where we got dropped off to pick up our punting boat.

During Amy's stay I realised that there are a lot of things that I really should know about but don't. For instance, 'what is a minster?' 'What is the difference between an Abbey and a Church?' What are those things that look like chestnuts but are not? What exactly is clotted cream? My general knowledge is somewhat lacking. All in all, we had fun and ate lots.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

it's about time

Firstly I'd like to say a MASSIVE congratulations to my immensely clever sister who got her GCSE results today. The legend got all A*'s and A's - I'm so proud!

Secondly, I have been hopeless at blogging lately for a few reasons. Namely, not being in Bristol near a computer, but also, just a lack of words. I need to get some shut-eye so here's just a few photos from the last few weeks...



A cake for a good friend who's sadly now left Bristol


One of the very few sunny skies we've had this 'summer'


One of the three reversible aprons I've made this month


Baby Martha - a joy to look after


The infamous Durdle door which I had the pleasure of visiting with Dave and his sister

...and a weird bucket tree in Lulworth Cove

Blurry blackberries and happily stained fingers from my forraging in the nearby fields yesterday. Who would have thought you could pick blackberries in the city. Also, I've bought a dozen eggs this week from the City farm's chickens - quite exciting and most definitely more reassuringly reared than the eggs you get in the supermarket.
Tomorrow I'm off on another adventure to the New Forest with a few other churches. Am very much looking forward to spending quality time with some wonderful families and friends, and hearing some great teaching...







Sunday, 10 August 2008

huffing and puffing

I'm having a little trouble with getting running today. Well, not really just 'a little trouble' that makes it sound like it might actually happen. I've resigned myself to the fact that it's not going to today. I feel like I'm still recovering from Newday - the youth camp I was at last week - so I didn't fancy getting up at 6.30 this morning to run for 100 minutes before church. I figured I could just run this afternoon but then I came home after having a late lunch and fell asleep for two hours. Gosh that is a pretty boring post but I felt like I needed to write it as a record or how my running's going. On the up side, on one of my runs at Newday, I overtook another runner, who I then saw later as we queued for the showers. She asked how my run was and said she'd tried to step in time with me but couldn't keep up and that my legs were pumping like pistons!! Funny description, but I like it.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

say what you need to say

I feel like I need to say, 'hello old friend' to this much neglected blog. I'm just popping by to let you know I'm still here and haven't forgotten about this little space but time for blogging has not been abundant lately.
Have had a lovely couple of days with the children I look after, though today was slightly concerned with their familiarity with youtube. We watched Harry Potter videos over and over - they love the one with the banana song, and the Potter Puppet Pals, sped up and slowed down, along with the 48 million other viewers who love it. It took me back to my summer days spent last summer on a summer school with a group of girls in my care who sang the Potter Puppet Pals song over and over.. To be honest, it's not worth your while looking. Oh and there's also an awful lego Harry Potter video. Awful. Yet strangely, 4 million people have watched it. Some people have way too much time on their hands.
I've just watched 'The Bucket List.' A lovely film that made me cry.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

A little bit o' this, a little bit o' that...

Wow, I can't quite believe it's been over three weeks since I last posted. It's been a busy few weeks with trips to Dorchester & Brighton and a close friend's wedding...In the time that I've been away, I've composed many a blog entry in my head but never got round to writing any of those posts.

It's a funny old time at the moment - while there's a lot going on other parts of my life are moving rather slowly which seems to alter the overall feel of the pace of things happening. That is a poorly structured sentence but I cannot think of another way to describe it. What's moving slowly is the task of finding myself a job. I'll look at pages of job vacancies where nothing jumps out at me and get to a point of scrolling down pages of vacancies, only half looking because I don't know what I want to see and because I'm bored of seeing things I can't do.

Anyhow, going back to the exciting events of the summer, I went to the Newfrontiers Brighton conference a couple of weeks ago, which was a wonderful time. Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill church in Seattle was the guest speaker and he brought some profound, astute, prophetic, moving insights into where we are going as a family of churches. He's a brilliant preacher and teacher and I could only marvel at the grace of God upon his life that enables him to be a husband and father to five children, write 6 books this year, and lead a church of 8000 people, which he started 10 years ago in the most unchurched state in America. Only God's grace can enable someone to do all this and stay sane and humble.

Last week was spent painting a mural at my housemate's school in Yate, which was a fun, messy event. Stupidly, I did not take any photos of it - I'll have to get Jo to take some. I had the privilege of working and painting with a friend who I went to Uganda with - Caz. She's a brilliant artist and I couldn't have done it without her - in the time it took me to work out the dimensions of and draw a recycling symbol, she had drawn a dolphin, a turtle, an elephant and a koala bear in a tree. I'm not very good at drawing. So each day, we went home stinking of turpentine, because that was the only thing that would remove the gloss paint. (It's an outdoor mural on a hut.) I was so impressed with some of the children's artistic abilities. One of the children looked just like a miniature of Montse, the teacher who John worked with at school in Spain. Brilliant.

Friday was spent baking 260 muffins for Sarah and Dave's wedding on Saturday. It was a joy to bake in the kitchen of Woodies, the church where they had the wedding. I loved getting to use a mixing bowl five times the size of my own, and use an oven where I could bake 48 muffins at a time. As I loaded up the car with all of my empty sweet tins (all donated, I'd like to add), a big stack of muffin trays and £100 worth of ingredients, I couldn't help wondering whether one day I might not have to cart my kitchen around in a car, but maybe I'll have my own professional kitchen...it's good to dream....


So here's a snap shot of some of the muffins I baked. Unfortunately I wasn't efficient enough to take photos of all of the varieties - I couldn't take photos until the morning of the wedding as they hadn't been iced until then and I only finished icing and plating them up 10 minutes before the ceremony was due to start.





And here's a picture of the beautiful bride with her Daddy...



And her brand new husband!


And now I'm going to spend the rest of the evening sewing....

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

quotes of the week

When discussing how lead (as in the metal) poisons you and damages your internal organs, Grace said, 'I always used to think when people talked about internal organs that it meant you had a piano stuck up your butt...'

Today we made some cookies, and when I asked Will if he was enjoying the freshly baked goodness, he said,

"When I eat it it makes me feel funky.'

I like it.

I'm off to Dorchester tomorrow for a few days so I need to go to bed. Goodnight.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

when time stands still...

...Or not, as the case may be. I started baking for church today at 12.30 and had a very productive couple of hours. The time flew by and I baked lots. I had a little break for some ryvita and cucumber, a spot of Wimbledon and a glass of water, then carried on with the mammoth baking session.

I needed to go to the Scrapstore this afternoon to pick up a roll of paper for the kids work at church tomorrow, and had thought to myself at lunchtime, 'Wow, I think I'm going to finish baking in record time - I've got hours until the scrapstore shuts.' The next think I know, it's 5.05pm. I couldn't quite get my head round where the last three hours have gone. They got eaten, I think.

Friday, 27 June 2008

back with the kids

I have not been childminding for the last three weeks because they have had other childcare arrangements for one reason or another, and I have thoroughly missed my time with the kids. Today was my first day back with them, and there were many interesting conversations, as usual. Will still hasn't got his head round the fact that it is possible to be a vegetarian and a Christian.

As we were eating lunch, the following conversation ensued:
Will: 'How do word wars start?'
Hannah: 'I'm not sure, Will.'
Will: 'Yeh but how do they start?'
Hannah: Word wars?
Will: Yeh.
Hannah: 'I'm not sure I know what you mean by 'word wars'.
(By this point I was picturing a display board covered in battles of words. Whatever that looks like.)
Will: (By now insistant that I really did know.) Yeh, like world war 1.
Hannah:
(Penny drops. Lesson learned - listen very carefully to a four year old when he speaks and add in any possible letters that might have been exchanged for wrong ones in a sentence.) Oh, world wars.

And so I start trying to explain a little bit about relationships between countries and how they can break down, when Will interjects...

Will: I thought they were started by gays.
Hannah: Pardon?!!! (Ok so I didn't learn the previous lesson the first time. Let's try again.)
Will : Gays.
Hannah: (At this point I was thinking, 'ok, I know children seem to be learning about adult concepts much younger these days, but seriously?! Where on earth has he heard that wars are started by homosexual men?...)
Gays??
Will: Yes.
Hannah: Really?
Will: Yeh, like World War zero was started by cave men.

Right, so when Will said what sounded very much like 'gays', he was simply abbreviating cave men to 'caves'....I am clearly not down with modern abbreviations. (I did explain to Will that in fact, there had not been a World War Zero, and he wasn't too insistant on sticking to this false fact.)

I am pleased to say that the television has become less and less of a desired activity in the children I look after. When Will first started coming home from school at lunchtime, all he wanted to do, every single week, was watch Thunderbirds. Somehow (I'd dearly love to think it was my influence, but I don't think I can take the credit for this one), the calibre of the activities they choose to do has increased ten-fold. Today on the way home from school Will announced that we were going to play chess.

Now, no offence Dad, and anyone who enjoys chess, but I have never been particularly taken by chess. It is too much of a quiet, inactive game for me. But, I was a good sport and let Will teach me how to play. I was fully aware that he knew I was completely ignorant about the rules of chess, and so, being four years old and not understanding the concept that you are not meant to bend the rules of every single game to be in your favour all the time, was expecting Will to take me for a ride. But I am pretty sure he didn't. Even though I know very little about chess, what Will said made sense. He is scarily cunning and tactical for a four year old. He completely outwitted me - chess to me seems to be a game requiring high levels of wit - and secretly I was proud of him for doing so. I have to admit, the whole time we were playing, I had the name 'Kaspirov' going round and round my head. He is the one person I remember playing when Dad used to watch chess a lot on tv, and I still remember what he looks like.

Friday, 20 June 2008

my liquid diet (imposed by circumstance, not choice)

Smoothies consumed so far:

1.5 pints of vanilla snow. contains: 1 vanilla pod
2 tbsp caster sugar
generous slosh of milk (to replace apple juice when you don't have a juicer or apple juice)
300ml natural yoghurt

To be honest, this is pretty much like drinking runny, frothy yoghurt, which I quite like!



1 pint of banana, mango and yoghurt smoothie. contains - exactly what the list says.
When I came to make my first smoothie I realised my error in thinking late night shopping in tesco's was a good plan. I forgot a good number of ingredients, and substituted raspberries for strawberries, because the latter were cheaper. Only problem is, I don't have any nice strawberry smoothie recipes and the raspberry recipes I was going to use wouldn't really work with strawberries. This calls for some creativity...

a bit of minor 'surgery'

So, once again, I've been going through an uninspired blogging phases, hence the recent lack of posts. But today, I have a legitimate reason not to be working, and I have a few things to blog about, so here goes...

What is my 'legitimate reason' for not working? I have just - as in an hour ago - had two fat wisdom teeth removed. Eughh. That's all I can say. I am so unbelievably thankful for anaesthetic. The lovely dentist who had a brilliant bedside manner told us (me, the girl on work experience and the two nurses) about the charity he runs in Romania, and how the children there came running to him, begging him to give them an injection because they had all had teeth removed without anaesthetic. That just makes me want to cry. So at the moment I am blissfully unaware of how much my mouth is going to hurt when the anaesthetic wears off. Even though I can't feel any pain at the moment, my jaw is telling me that it didn't really like all of the tugging it was submitted to. And I do feel very much like a hamster, though apparently the steroids are meant to stop you looking like one. They had to cut my gums to expose the roots - hence classifying the procedure as 'surgery'. So I now have dissolvable stitches in my mouth in place of my gammy tooth. I kindly donated my teeth to the hospital for research purposes. It was the least I could do.

I am fully stocked up on delicious fruit and yoghurt supplies to make myself smoothies, as I'm going to be on a liquid diet for the next few days, which I am quite excited about.

I do a lot of baking, and I have noticed that recently the phrase, 'I've never tried this recipe before' comes out of my mouth a lot - at least once a week. This is not a deliberate thing - baking new recipes - which is kind of satisfying that it just comes naturally to me. This week, I baked Nigella Lawson's London Cheesecake. It was a disaster. As I read through the instructions and diligently followed them, I was already preparing myself for the high possibility of something going wrong, so I was not too devastated when it didn't work out. Still, I hate wasting food. I varied the recipe ever so slightly - I used the remainders of some orange and poppyseed biscuits I baked (recipe from this amazing site) for the base instead of digestives and had the recipe worked, I think this would have been a change that I could have been proud of.

Anyhow, the cheesecake was a disaster because you had to bake it in a basin of water, and my tin foil wasn't hardcore enough to stop the water seeping into the cheesecake. I tried to dry it off by putting it back in the oven at a low temperature but it was still soggy when I took it out. I had been thinking recently how I haven't had many disasters with baking, but I figure after this little disaster that the more I bake the higher the probability is that something will go wrong. So as bizarre as it sounds, I am kind of excited that I have got to the stage where I bake so much that things have started to wrong...hmmm...I'm not sure that there is any logic whatsoever in that statement - just put it down to one of the side effects of anaesthetic.

Yesterday was a beautiful day, so on my way home from the office I took a little detour along the path by the alotments that leads to city farm. I love it at this time of year where there is so much green foliage arching over the pathway. It's amazing how much shade they provide from the bright sunlight - I love the contrast of light that you get.



The picture of the butterfly at the top of this post is from city farm. I found it hanging on one of the trees there.)