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.