Friday, 30 January 2009

the grace of childhood

I stumbled across this quote today, and it sums up the thought that frequently crosses my mind when I marvel at how children are.

An adult is one who has lost the grace, the freshness, the innocence of the child,
who is no longer capable of feeling pure joy, who makes everything complicated,
who spreads suffering everywhere, who is afraid of being happy, and who,
because it is easier to bear, has gone back to sleep. The wise man is a happy child.

-Arnaud Desjardins

The things that are marvelous about children are, in their very nature, marvelous because adults are no longer like this. There is something so lovely about the carefree-ness of children that adults lose, like the little girl I walked past today who was dressed up in a princess outfit, standing in the hallway, moving her head and body from side to side as though she was lost in a song singing in her little head, while she waited for her mother to return from dropping off a sibling...

I often wonder why some adults detest children. I wonder what happened in the stage of transition between childhood & adulthood that makes it seem like they have completely forgotten what it was like to live in the freedom of childhood, getting cross with children for simply being children.

I have to say, I don't agree 100% with Mr. Desjardins, but I like the essence of what he is saying.

'here is where you are, there is where you are not'

Yesterday we went on a school trip to the theatre. If the morning had only consisted of the coach trip I think the children would have gone home satisfied, with enough memories to fill hours of time, just chatting away about being on the coach. They loved it.

I have to hand it to the Old Vic, they did a fantastic job. It was a lovely, creative, entertaining, music show, which the children were captivated by. What a great perk to my job!

Monday, 26 January 2009

word of the day:

Stickability. Applicable to the nature of tortoises. Apparently they have a lot of it. (According to Grace & Will.) I have to say, I like this word a lot.

the view

On my way to work in the morning I have to cycle up a big fat hill (actually, it's quite narrow). The one moment of joy that this brings is that at the top of the hill there is a gap between the houses with a wonderful view of the city. Actually, to be honest, I never really take in the view of the city - what always catches my attention is that on sunny mornings, the sky looks phenomenal, and this little viewpoint provides the perfect lookout to the east where the sun is shining in all its glory. This morning, I took my lomographer with me and left the house a few minutes earlier than normal so that I could stop and take a photo, if the sun had decided to come out by the time I got to the top of the hill. Much to my delight, it had. I won't be able to post the lomo photo for a while as I need to get the film processed, but here is the view from my humble camera phone:

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


A much needed ray of light came into my day today by complete surprise. As I was walking to school to collect the kids, thinking about how horrible it is that the monthly pain that comes with being a woman affects how I think & feel far more than it should, I walked past a little girl, waiting with her younger brother, while their Mum came out of the house with a baby in a carry-chair. The first thought that entered my head was, 'That woman has three young children. She's amazing.' Because, quite frankly, children are tiring. Very tiring. And so it is that with each passing day of working with children, I grow in admiration of parents who are with children all. the. time.

Anyway, back to my story. The girl was looking at me, and as I walked past, she said, 'that's a lovely girl, mummy.' Quite what it was about me that she thought was lovely, I do not know, but in that moment I rejoiced again at the wonderful ways children have that we as adults don't.

Friday, 16 January 2009

my afternoon off

I am quite tired at the moment. I am not enjoying the gloomy weather and would so love to see the sun for more of the year than we do. So it was with great delight when I finished work at 12pm today, and knew that this was the start of the weekend. I had the afternoon to do whatever I liked before hosting the kids work meeting. I had a few bits and pieces I needed to do, and had planned to go to Evensong at Bristol Cathedral, just to enjoy the peace and calm, but there were still plenty of hours in the afternoon to just relax. Until I started baking. And cooking. I hadn't intended to spend my afternoon this way, but that's what happened.

Since I started cooking as part of my job, I feel all of my energy for finding interesting and tasty things to cook has been directed towards the family I work for, and so feel that my housemates do not get the most inventive of dishes from me. So today, I decided to make homemade pizzas.

1: Tomato base with marinated cherry tomatoes, mozarella, parma ham, red onion & rocket dressed in garlic scented oil
2: Pesto base with flaked tuna, creme fraiche, red onion & pepper

Both were very tasty.

For dessert:
Apple strusel cake. re-named by my friend Ben as strackle or something of that description, because he could not reconcile having a streusel and a cake in the same dessert. It was basically a shortbread base, topped with stewed apples with a hint of vanilla, then sprinkled with shortbread mix again, combined with dessicated coconut & cranberries. Good work, delicious. magazine, good work.

little triumphs

One of the great things I have found about working in a school is that in the short time I have been there, I have got to know the wonderful children. 'Know' in the sense that I am learning more and more what makes them tick, what they find hard, the things they can do but just need a bit more encouragement to do things independently, their lovely little quirks. But there are some children who are so quiet, painfully shy, and avoid adult interaction, making it really quite hard to get to know them. So, it was to my delight when yesterday, I had two moments of quiet triumph as one boy allowed me into his world for more minutes than he ever has before, reeling off information about the magazine he had bought and how to play the game with it, and what was going to come with his new magazine next Wednesday. I was holding my breath as he spoke, as if breathing might break the magic of the moment. The other boy, it turns out, knows far more about bees than I ever would have imagined. Priceless.

It's just a pity that other incidents later in the day made me wonder why on earth I work with children, and why I would ever want to bring children into the world and subject them to all my mistakes and flaws.

Monday, 12 January 2009


So, my hankering for a digital SLR reared it's head again this weekend, as I cooked away and wanted to take photos of my creations. Quite frankly, the camera phone just did not cut it. In the slightest. I want to keep a record of the things I cook for a number of reasons:
for my children
so I know where I can find that recipe that I know I once cooked but have no idea where I found it
because I like photos and I like food

As I couldn't take photos, I'm afraid it's just going to be a boring list.

:: carrot, cumin & yoghurt soup (I ate this flavour soup at Pret a Manger last week & loved it, so made my own)
:: belated birthday brownies. these bitesize beauties are dangerous because you just want to keep on eating them.
:: canacharan sundae. I just made that name up because its real name sounds something like it but I can't quite remember what it is. I've never made this dessert before, but it was delicious and beautiful - layers of raspberries that had been heated in orange juice & rosemary, topped with whipped cream & yoghurt & honey roasted buttered oats. Layers & layers of the good stuff.
(Incidentally, 'canacharan' is the number 500 in Sindarin.)
:: oven roasted vegetable soup
:: sausage casserole

Friday, 9 January 2009

i love this city

I have been thinking a lot recently about the little decisions that we make in every day life. Those decisions which are pretty much inconsequential, but actually say something about your character. For instance, today, I had an interview for a course at UWE. My housemate had very kindly left me her car to use, as I need it this evening, so I could have driven to school this morning, then on to UWE, saving myself a 10-mile round trip cycle ride.

To me, the right decision was to cycle. Why? Because it is better all-round. Better for my health, my pocket and the environment. But, it was the hardest decision. Quite frankly, I would have happily driven. But that is because my natural human tendency is to want to do what is easiest for me, to do the thing that is going to be the least amount of work and difficulty.

I know we are only talking about a very minor decision here, but the reality is that it is often the wisest and most beneficial thing to do to make the hard decision, but because you don't see the immediate benefits from it, it is the harder choice. I don't get to see the tiny difference I make to global warming by reducing the amount of CO2 I emit, or what difference cycling makes to my health. Why are we so predisposed to instant gratification? Maybe that's the result of sin. Hmmmm....In the end, I cycled. As a result, I got to meet a very helpful lady when I wasn't 100% sure where I was going, and got to see this beautiful view...

Boiling Wells / St Werburghs City Farm

the proud mother in me

I am fully aware that the children at school are not my own, but in some small way, I love them, and think that they are brilliant. I wanted to share with you a few pictures my little ones have drawn recently, because they are great:

At first glance, you might think this is a caterpillar with a face. But no, this is the baby brother of one of my girl's - he's crawling. I thought this interpretation of being asked to draw a person was fantastic. She is probably the only child in the class who thought outside of the box, and could go way beyond the expected for her age.

I love this picture, because it is by a girl who is very quiet, and when I saw this picture, I felt it brought to life a bit more of who she is and what she is capable of. I love the fact that pictures of bald headed, no bodied people produces a feeling of pride in me.

And last but not least, I like this picture because the hair on this girl is amazing. Not to mention the quote that goes along with it:

'She's flying with the air colour.'

When another child asked what air colour is, Olivia replied matter-of-factly, 'it's when you go in a plane.' Obviously.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

coffee & cake

Today I had the pleasure of going bike shopping with my good friend Ros. We ended up making a day of it, partly out of choice, partly out of being delayed by a certain photography establishment (I had taken the opportunity of being out and about to get my photo's from Katy & Roberto's wedding blessing printed) and having to wait for her brand new bike to be checked over. As a result of all the waiting we had to do, we ended up induldging in rather a lot of coffee & cake. While sipping away at our latte's & putting the world to rights, the music in our first choice of coffee shops caught my attention. I recognised the lyrics being sung, but could not quite put my finger on where from. Thankfully, the frustration didn't last long, and I soon realised I was listening to the dulcet tones of Mindy Smith, an artist my Dad pointed out to me a little while ago. It was quite satisfying to recognise her voice, having only heard her music on a couple of occasions. Our little expedition ended with Ros purchasing a fold-up bike (what she had been looking for) and me collecting my photos. It was with bated breath that I had handed over my films to be processed, as I have had a number of problems with this particular establishment, but also a number of surprise successes, so I breathed a sigh of relief when I finally got my films back, 2.5 hours after they were meant to be ready (the machine jammed), and saw that the photos were fine and dandy.

Thursday, 1 January 2009


While back in Herne Bay, I went on a run along the seafront. As I ran along the promenade, I remembered how, when I was a child, I used to look up at the steep banks next to the Kings Hall and wonder where they led to. It always felt like the end point of those hills was a million miles away and I used to think about where the people who were walking up the banks would end up. As an adult (albeit one who as a horrendous internal navigational system), it seems funny to remember that this is how I used to think, now I know where those hills lead to.

These are the banks that caused me to wonder

...and another few photos from a walk along the beach...

Shadows of me

a misty view of Reculver

New year's eve & New Year's day

Ah, the 80's. You gotta love 80's fashion. Feeling that we had not got enough of the wonderful styles of the 80's, my housemate decided that her birthday & new year's eve party should be 80's fancy dress. It was brilliant. There were boom boxes, bling, and boogie-ing aplenty. We welcomed in the new year on the roof of our friends' apartment block. (They live on the top floor and have sky-light access to the roof. It was wonderful, having a 360 degree view of our city, watching fireworks going off here, there and everywhere.
New Year's day has been wonderful. I went for a lovely, lovely walk with 10 friends in Ashton Court Estate. I loved the fact that it was so cold my cheeks felt tight and rosy, but I was as warm as toast with my Peter Storm coat that is like wearing a duvet, and my Timberland boots that make my feet feel like they're being hugged. Having had a good healthy dose of fresh air, we headed to a pub for refreshments. I have to say that The Dovecote is one of the nicest pubs I have ever been to. There's nothing quite like sitting by a fire, drinking hot mulled cider and laughing with friends until your face aches.

hello 2009.

Having had a wonderfully restful time with my family, it is a joy to be back at home in Bristol, starting to implement the visions I have had for making small changes to my room in my humble abode. I often long for more walls to adorn with photos I've managed to capture of this beautiful world & my beautiful family and friends. I have mounting boxes of photographs, and while I know that I will never be able to have all of the ones I would like to on display, I have wanted to put up some new ones for a while, but have had a lack of photo frames. (Note to self, the fact of never being able to put up all the photos I'd like is another very good reason for investing in a digital slr so I can take decent digital photos and post them on a blog) Thanks to my sister, and a parent at school, I have acquired some new frames over Christmas. So now, I have three of my recent favourite photos framed and ready to be hung:

(Actually, they're not really that recent - they were taken in March & April 2008, but they're still some of my favourite shots from last year.)

Hmmm...annoyingly, I can't find the cd with the photos on so tried to take them from the copy I have on facebook but I can only get them in a tiny format, appart from this one of my lovely sister, taken by the observatory in Bristol when she came to stay with me.

So, going back to implementing changes in my room, this basically consists of putting up a new, exciting bookshelf. I don't feel that bookshelf is the right description, but that's what Ikea call it. Now I am sure most of you are scoffing at me buying anything from Ikea, let alone anything that might be 'exciting', but hey, what can I say, I decided to purchase a piece of furniture from the crazy Swedish store, knowing that the whole process would be an 'experience.' It was with slight dread that I approaced the blue and yellow delight, wishing for some company - not just because I knew I would not be capable of lifting the flat-pack boxes by myself, but because I feel that a trip to Ikea warrants some moral support. In fact, come to think of it, I think Ikea should issue a health warning that reads something like this:
'Warning: We designed our store in a way that means that even though we have put arrows on the floor to guide you, it is more than likely that you will get hopelessly lost in our store. Furthermore, you are at a seriously high risk of having a heavy-onset headache upon arrival, which will tighten to a vice like grip, producing tunnel vision, upon departure. Have you remembered to wear extra padding on your shins? If not, don't even think about approaching one of our flat bed trolleys. You will get bruises. Lots of them. If you are the proud owner of children, we highly recommend you make use of our children's play dungeon. It will make your trip a slightly less stressful experience. And because we are incredibly clever when designing store layouts, you will have to go through the whole store first to get to the entrance of the children's dungeon, then go back to the start, just like in a frustrating board game.'

I kid you not, I had just got to the end of the store, and spotted some children's drawings on display. At first I thought, 'Ah, isn't that lovely? Some children actually enjoy this experience', before thinking, 'that's really weird that children love coming here so much that they actually draw pictures of their experience at Ikea then send them in.' I decided to take a closer look. As I got near to the wall, I suddenly became aware of a lot of children's voices, all coming from the same direction. I looked to my left, where the sound was coming from, and saw some gates that looked just like this:

(Apologies for the smallness of the image. I could not get it any bigger.) Bizarrely, there were no children in sight. My conclusion, therefore, is that Ikea willingly keep shoppers children in a dungeon.

With quite a lot of help from some willing male assistance, I managed to get the boxes into the car, back home and up two flights of stairs. It's going to be an interesting challenge when I come to move and have to get this big old thing out of my house. But I don't need to think about that now. All that is left is the assembling of it. I can hear the laughter now, at the prospect of me trying to do this single handedly - my own laughter included. I may well need to enlist some helpers.