Thursday, 26 August 2010

Here it Comes

Its happening, can you feel it? It would depend on where in the world you live, but up here in the Northern Hemisphere if you're 'northern' enough, you can feel it now.

If you go outside and just stand still, smell the air, just feel it. Its the end of Summer and Autumn is beginning.

I smelt woodsmoke outside yesterday when I put the recycling out. It was 6.30 am and the world was still and cool, and there was woodsmoke in the air. I stopped, and felt it. And before the day had begun, and before the sun was really up, and before we all remembered it was still Summer's end really, Autumn was waiting in my back yard, whispering it's promises to me.
And I felt the little thread of excitement, like a lightening deep in my chest. And I felt a little clearer, a little calmer, a little more able and more in control.
I love every season, and the change of season always fuels me, excites me, but none so much as Autumn. This feeling of excitement and possibility just grows in me as Autumn does, right through until Christmas by which time I'm capable of anything and pretty much fit to burst.

 As the year wains I find more of myself, and as I sit here I could almost giggle with the prospect of the next 4 months ahead of me.

I am an Autumn Girl

But my camera is broken, so I am also flying blind here, as it were!

Monday, 23 August 2010

How To Really Love a Child

Struggling a bit, if I'm honest.
Not confident that I've got everything in hand.
So I've made a list to remind me what I'm aiming for, inspired by a post of the same name over at Shivaya Naturals

How To Really Love A Child

Listen :: get down and really look at them :: stand still :: tell them you love them :: say yes more than no :: make things with them and for them :: paint things including, but not always, paper :: follow their plans :: build their ideas :: let them help :: point out their strengths, not their weaknesses :: tell them when they make you feel wonderful :: keep it to your self when they make you feel tired :: build dens :: make biscuits :: forget imperfections :: laugh at mess :: go outside :: stop shouting :: let them bath at lunch time :: stay up to play a game :: eat chips at the beach :: don't be busy :: remember how small and precious they really are, and how fleeting their childhood really is.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Other People's Junk

I find it hard to understand
the plethora of second hand.
It seems to me the only reason
is 'making do' is SO last season.
Why care, or mend or just make do
when you can opt for something new?
Why have just the things you need
when your budget quite supports your greed?

This cardigan, perhaps this top,
looked more in fashion in the shop?

This little top all lacy white?
Perhaps the cut was not quite right?

But this? This dress? How could it be?
that someone thought it 'not quite me'.

But I don't mind the spoils of waste
they suit my budget and my taste
And so I  love the old 'car boot'
where one man's junk is another's loot

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Elements of Self; A Shadow

I have no shadow! I am a vampire, or Peter Pan. I have spent days trying to photograph my own shadow, and failed.

I tried to take pictures of my shadow where it usually falls, the cooker, the table, my knitting, the computer, our bed time story in the big bed, my sewing machine. Unfortunately the light in our house is so poor, my shadow was too faint to see. Just one of the many things I am having to come to terms with in our new home. Old Devon village houses were so often built to keep the weather out, not let the light in.

I then tried to capture my shadow on our wish adventure. and though I cast long powerful shadows, whenever I turned the camera on to capture them, the sun would hide and I would get nothing.

But I don't mind, I know my shadow is still there, still attached to my feet. I'm not really Peter Pan, I won't need it sewing back on.

So my offering here is of another shadow I cast, the one that comes to mind when I think of my shadow. The lovely long summers evening shadow that followed me around the golden hillside on our wedding day.

And a shadow that might remain, long after I am gone and my name is forgotten,

I have ever been in paintings, a side effect of growing up around artists, but this one is so much of me, as to almost be my shadow.

This post is to continue with Shakti Mama's Elements of Self challenge, which this week is focusing on our shadow. Please have a look at some of the other women and their shadows linked to her blog.

Friday, 20 August 2010

A Big Wish, A Little Magic?

When you were a child, did you ever say 'if I can run to the end of the lane before the milk tanker gets there then I will get what I want for my birthday' or 'if i can get this piece of paper in the bin from here then *insert boys name here* will ask me out'.
And sometimes the magic worked didn't it? Sometimes, if you wished something enough, and you asked your wish a lot, and you showed your intent by beating the milk tanker, or running all the way home, or giving up something that you loved, sometimes your wishes came true.

Well, I have a wish, and it's a big wish. I'm wishing for a YES, and this yes could change our lives. It could make such a big difference to our little family. And I'm struggling as well, as I know there are more important things in the world, I know there are others that are wishing for food, or shelter, or protection, or health, and I know that compared to these wishes, mine doesn't seem so important.

But I'm wishing it with all my heart, and I'm wishing it long and loud, but I'm not sure how loud I can wish from my house.

So I ask how I can wish louder, how my wish can be amplified, how I can beat the milk tanker to the end of the lane.

And in the night I dream of Isis, the Egyptian mother goddess. I have always felt a connection to Isis, despite her being worshiped in such s far off place. I think she fits my understanding of the female mother aspect. I dream that I have to get high, high and windswept and empty, like the deserts of Egypt. And there is only one place I can think of that fits, Dartmoor.
I dream that i have to climb up high to make my wish, and that  have to take my children, but only if the sun is shining when I wake up. It has been horribly wet and dismal here for a while so I figure I'm probably off the hook!

No, the sun is streaming through the window first thing. It was, to be fair, the only time for the next few hours that the sun showed itself, but I was going to the moor!

And I knew where I had to go as well, without thinking, Yes Tor of course, for a Yes!
Further investigation revealed that Yes Tor was widely recognised as being the highest and trickiest to climb on the whole moor, standing at some 2031ft and being heavy on the granite boulders. But that was where we had to go. I picked out a route that meant we could park at the base of  neighbouring West Mill Tor, climb over or skirt around that one and then tackle Yes.

So we set off, with a printed bit of map, some waterproofs, sandwiches and a pack of celebratory kit-kat's for the top.

We parked, and the boys very quickly set off up West Mill Tor, so I guessed we were going up and over!

the view from the top of the 1st Tor

Looking across at Yes Tor it did look like quit a scramble, but we were fueled by our wish and the speed with which we had scaled West Mill Tor, so we rested not, but carried on.

As we neared the top I felt so relieved that had nearly done it. I had Fred in the back pack and he is fairly heavy now. I was also concerned as Jack is a notoriously bad walker who tends to complain and drag his way around even a short walk. He had done really really well but I felt we had probably pushed our luck with him a little!

At the very top there were a couple of hikers with poles and gators and all the gear. They asked if they could take my photo as they hadn't expected to see someone being carried up the Tor! One of them said I was making him feel like he just wasn't trying hard enough!

Then Fin, who was convinced that we hadn't followed the map quite right, asked if we were really on Yes Tor...

'Oh no' they said, 'this is West Mill Tor, that's Yes Tor over there'

It would seem the first Tor we had climbed was Row Tor, and the biggy was West Mill Tor, and the monster beyond was Yes Tor.
And it made sense, 3 boys, 3 Tors, and now we were really being tested.
Bu we had to do it, if the magic was going to work, if the wish was going to be heard, it had to be Yes Tor for a YES.
I have to say though that at this point I wasn't sure how we were going to do it. I really felt like I had given my all and I was fairly sure Jack was running on good luck. And as we looked at the Tor a cloud passed over it and cast an ominous shadow over its top.

Between West Mill Tor and Yes Tor is Red-a-Ven brook, which is basically a bog, which was fun! You sink faster with a 2 year old on your back! We followed the sheep, hoping they knew something we didn't, but it turned out they just knew they weren't as heavy as me.

But somehow, little by little, scramble by scramble, we got nearer and nearer until we were within reach of the top. And by now Jack was ahead of me, and seeming to jump up the boulders and run up the sheep tracks. I was astounded.

The hikers we had met on the previous Tor had beaten us to it, but only just, and we had stopped for sandwiches half way up.

And we made it! To the 'roof of Devon'. I don't think I have ever seen the boys so elated and joyous. The wind was incredible. Fin almost had to hold on to Jack for fear he might get blown right off the top.

And we made our wish, right up here where the earth meets the sky. We made it big and loud, and shared our food, and felt full of sky and earth and YES.

Sheltering from the wind, this is their 'have a break, have a kit-kat' photo, although it does look more like their 'Groucho Marx' photo.

Yes Tor is also home to the highest bronze age carins in Devon. Although They have all been 'disturbed' in the intervening centuries, there is plenty of evidence left.

You can see in the distance...the rain. I noticed as well.

This is us, legging it! We got absolutely soaked. Rain up there is like stepping into a shower. But it had held off whilst we climbed the Tors and for that I was grateful.

And I found this at the bottom of the Tor, as we were running from the rain. A spiral in the granite, an ancient symbol of life, and the mother, fertility and the universe. And a clockwise spiral at that, a spiral to bring things towards you.

When we got back to the car I checked the time, it had taken just under 3 hours. 3 Tors, with 3 boys, in 3 hours.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

To London

It was my very dear friends 30th last Sunday, so I went to London for a visit. I went alone, just me, no children, no husband, just me. This is the first time I have had any time off when I wasn't teaching since I was about 7 months pregnant with Fred.
I love going to see my friend. Living so far away, and both living our busy and hectic lives, we don't see nearly enough of each other. So to have a whole weekend with her was luxury.

 But the journey, oh the journey, what bliss! An hour on a bus, an hours wait at the train station, then nearly 4 hours on a train, and the same coming back! Just me and my knitting and the occasional cup of peppermint tea. I honestly enjoy the journey as much as the visit!
I don't think you can really appreciate time spent on your own until you have none. Likewise anyone who says they are bored just clearly has too much free time on their hands and a lack of imagination. I can't imagine ever getting through all the things I'd like to do to get to the point of feeling bored!

Oh, and these? They were bought in Clapham, in a sale I hasten to add, and have become my 'when you reach your target weight' reward shoes. So for now I just get them out of the box and smell them a lot! I love the smell of new shoes!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The First Harvest

Our first harvest! From our tiny little yard. Unless you count the small amounts of basil that we have been having, but I don't.

There would have been several that ripened earlier but Fred kept picking them as soon as they started to fatten up. We would have had strawberries by now as well, but Fred kept biting them in half as soon as they started to swell.

Friday, 13 August 2010

A Beautiful Birth

I am fortunate that my work is also my interest and my passion. I know that my teaching and involvement with pregnant women and their families is what I want to do, and have always wanted to do, since as far back as I can remember.
Birth, as everyone knows deep down, is a miracle, and the more you understand it and immerse yourself in it, the more amazing and miraculous it becomes.

There are some days though when there just doesn't seem like enough of me to go around. Some days when I feel like I am doing many things badly instead of a few things well, days when I think that my teaching is just one pressure too many on our stretched little family.

Then I get an e-mail like this one...

Ithan Saul Hancock 31st of July 2010

I woke up at 7 in the morning, despite having been up half the night with Rosa, my teethy two year old. I thought that I felt a tiny pop but thought I’d probably imagined it as Ithan wasn’t due for another 10 days. I tried to go back to sleep and drifted a bit but started to feel like the baby was poking me really low down and so decided to get up and make tea. When I got out of bed I noticed a small wet patch and started to wonder if baby might on his way
. I wrote my diary for a while wondering if it was really happening and cursing the fact that we had decided to start decorating the dining room the day before so the house was total chaos. Not the lovely clean tidy environment I’d imagined giving birth in at all!

 By 8.30 the poking feelings had turned into definite period type cramps and I had to go to the loo for a huge pooh so I thought it really must be happening and I’d better wake Gareth up and tell him the baby was on his way. As things were still really quite mellow I didn’t feel any urgency as my labour with Rosa had been about 14 hours, the first 6 or so were fairly relaxed.

 However by halfway through Rosa’s breakfast I was starting to find it hard to concentrate and the contractions were definitely getting stronger. Gareth phoned the hospice, where we had arranged for Rosa to be while we had the baby and they were great and said they’d get her room ready, bring her straight in
. I phoned the labour ward and had a chat with them and they said they’d find someone to come out . None of us thought there was any rush though as I could still concentrate enough to make sense during contractions. They said the midwife might be a while but that sounded fine as I thought it might give us some time to sort our chaos out.

 G whisked Rosa off and although she had been quite amused by the noises I was starting to make I was relieved as it meant I could fully concentrate on the physical and what was happening. I went and sat on the loo again and it all reached another level of intensity. I started sounding and it really helped my breathing and to focus on thinning and opening.
 I felt so much more aware of the process this time and of everything we had learnt both in the hypnobirthing and the active birth classes. Last time I felt like the hypnobirthing fed in and really helped but it was on a subconscious level. This time I felt I was consciously drawing from what I knew.

I decided to get in the bath. I thought it would help and if it slowed things down a bit it wouldn’t be a bad thing either. G came home as I was trying to run the bath and helped me into it. He then did a super human high speed hoover and tidy. I was feeling like everything was going on very low down and I was really starting to push.
 Gareth had been timing my contractions and said that when he’d started they’d been 30 seconds long and three minutes apart and the gaps just got smaller everytime until there was barely a minute between them. I felt they were coming in waves the whole morning but the sets were definitely increasing and getting closer together.
I was using the sounding more and more, I surprised myself by how loud I was, mostly using ooooh! and AAAAH! As my surges got deeper and intensified so did my voice. It really felt like I was using my voice to push and squeeze downwards.

G had to give me a lot of support to get out of the bath. I had to hang off him every time a contraction came and there wasn’t much time in between them. Eventually we made it into the sitting room. I felt so happy when I saw it
, I think I hadn’t really been able to imagine giving birth in there as we had had to go to hospital at the crucial moment last time. Gareth had made it really lovely, or so it seemed to me. It was clean and uncluttered and everything was covered in throws and towels. I think my only moment of anxiety had been at the beginning when I realised it was really happening and the house was such a state. I couldn’t even really sit down anywhere let alone imagine giving birth. I felt huge relief and love for him. All of this in the blink of an eye between fast and furious surges.

I asked Gareth to sit on the sofa and I knelt on the floor resting on him in between and braced by him during contractions. By this point I was really roaring, proper effective pushing with my whole self. My voice was deep down roaring him out. I said to G at that point it felt fierce, I think that describes the physical sensations really well but I felt fierce too.

I needed to sit back for a moment and I leant my back against the birthing ball while kneeling with my legs apart. This was really intense and when I put my hand down I could feel his head. It was amazing and so exciting. I wasn’t at all bothered that the midwife wouldn’t be there. I didn’t feel like I needed anyone else.
I felt a bit stuck in that position so we went back to the sofa. From then it was maybe two or three more pushes and I felt his head be born, it was the most wonderful and satisfying feeling. In a strange moment of clarity I saw the midwifes car pull into the drive. Another push and he came out with a splash onto the floor, he started to cry straight away .

 Gareth got out from under me and picked him up in a towel. I was stretched forward, panting on the sofa, everything felt like it was in slow motion. G told me he was a boy and I kept saying hello baby without moving, he asked me if I wanted to hold him but I needed to just stay where I was for a moment.

The midwife knocked on the door and G shouted for her to come in. She came into the hall all of a bustle saying sorry she was late, traffic etc. and she came into the room and said oh my god you’ve delivered! It was perfect timing as far as I was concerned as she was able to do check him out and make sure my placenta came out completely, which it did without the need for the third stage injection.

Ithan and I had lovely naked cuddles for quite a while until the cord was cut after the pulsating had stopped. He didn’t feed straight away but nuzzled around lots and I felt elated and so very lucky. I had a tiny tear but it didn’t need stitches so by lunchtime the midwife had gone and we were eating scrambled eggs on toast and wondering if it had really happened!

Thank you so much for helping me to have an amazing birth experience. I will treasure the memories of Ithan’s arrival for ever. The classes empowered me and meant I felt confident and in control and was able to trust my body and my baby completely.  

...and I remember why I love what I do, and shall keep on doing it.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

View My Complete Profile!

bread bakin',

cake makin',

house cleanin',

Fred weanin',

clothes sewin',

slow growin',

family feedin',

path weedin',

rhyme writin',


dragon slayin',

munky payin',

hot bitch, punk ass, Mutha Mother

Monday, 9 August 2010

Elements of Self; The Eyes Have It!

Continuing with Shakti Mama's Elements of Self series, I am posting today on the theme of eyes. I have tried, with this series, not to think too much or 'stage' the photo's as far as possible. Instead I have tried to just do it, there and then, with what ever happens happening. I saw the latest challenge in the series today, and so I photographed my eyes.

 I can't imagine a worst day to photograph myself! I went to a friend Hen Party on Saturday and drank beer and stayed out until gone 2 am! All thing that I have not done for literally years! The last time I stayed up late and got drunk was on our honeymoon, seriously! And I feel terrible for it. Not hungover, as I actually didn't consume much, but just really tired and run down.

That'll learn me!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Pig's in the Woods

I have some very wonderful and interesting friends who have an amazing sustainable farm project near us. Quiet Waters Farm is in its early stages, but is going to incorporate a 'share harvest' which we are involved with. It's all very exciting!
We went over to play with their abundant children on Friday, and became embroiled in a full scale pig round up. Their most secure paddock, also known as Colditz, was breached by 18, yes, 18 brazen adult pigs. We spent a long time, and to be fair I have no real idea how long we were at it, rounding them up.

Quiet Waters is not the sort of farm where you find straight lines and fences, and acres of open ground. This was jungle warfare and it was man against pig through hedges and brambles and woods and quagmire. I hitched my long skirt up, tucked it into my knickers, stole my friends spare wellies, and gave chase!

I wish I had photos, I so genuinely do, but there was no time for that sort of thing! With the younger children watching from the barn, and the older lads assisting in the round up, we managed to get all 18 back into Colditz, now known as Ford Open Prison!

My legs were scratched and scraped and I was covered in mud and brambles. I looked like some sort of demented woman of the woods, but I do so love a good pig round up. 

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Gone to the Woods


A shared bedtime story

morning cuppa

climbing tree's in pajamas

We had a girls night out (plus children) and stayed in the woods last weekend. Myself and two other friends took our many children to our friends woods. It was warm and rained heavily late in the evening, and we went to sleep to the lullaby of raindrops on tent roofs. We had a lovely camp.