Thursday, 21 March 2013

Dorset Tales :: Cerne Abbas

In early March the English countryside and weather can be kind of bleak.  
Spring might be peeking out here and there with a few snowdrops and crocuses and possibly a primrose or two, but often it's grey, bitterly cold and we frequently get flurries of snow right into April.
However, I rather like bleak.  
I blame it on reading too many Bronte sisters and Thomas Hardy novels as an impressionable teenager and not enough Jane Austen!
So, booking Bramble Cottage in Cerne Abbas for the third time felt great.  We love the cottage.  It is cosy, the heating is inclusive of the rental price and the kitchen is well-equipped and big enough for my sister and her family to join us for big family lunches.
However, booking it for the week of my birthday felt a little foolhardy!  It's always cold on my birthday. 
But, we stiff upped lipped Brits laugh in the face of a little freezing weather and have learnt to wear layers and carry everything imaginable in  case of all kinds of weather.  
Four seasons in one day, indeed!
As it turned out we did get all four seasons, but over a week rather than every day.
Cerne Abbas is a truly pretty little place, famous for the chalk figure of a giant on the hill just behind the village.  He is a shocking sight at times and can make many a man feel inadequate, especially on a cold day ... ahem.  If you do click on the link then please do scroll down a bit to see the fantastic folly of a Homer Simpson chalk figure on the hill next to the Cerne Abbas Giant. I loved this!  Talk about green advertising (it was done to promote the Simpsons movie a few years back) and it really suits Homer so well being carved onto a hillside.  He is gone now as the grass grew over him.
The village has three pubs and a tea room.
There is a fantastically well-stocked little shop selling fresh bread, baked goods, dairy, postcards, newspapers (even a Die Welt for passing Germans!) wine, chocolates and flowers.  It's open every day until 6pm.  For a countryside based holiday that makes a huge difference to me as it means I can get the daily shopping there and do not have to go to any supermarkets for a whole week.
I don't even need to go to a town.
I can truly be away from urban living.
Our friends Steve and Beanie joined us for four days of this trip and it really was so good to have them in the cottage with us.
Frank rather loves them (they are indeed almost unnaturally lovable!) and they didn't know Dorset well.
We may well rope them in on future trips as they were such good and easy company.
Steve and Beanie, you have been warned ...

fork in the path at Cerne Abbey

a pretty corner of Cerne Abbas

was there ever such a beautiful-looking pub?!

another lovely inn

mothers' day posy

on a mama/son walk

my birthday ring

steve and beanie amuse the children

my birthday pancake stack cake, courtesy of my sister heather
And my birthday was celebrated in the cottage. 
Due to flurries of snow outside I did not feel like to beach day I had hoped for and instead we lit the log fire and made lunch with leftovers and Heather made me a stack of pancakes for my birthday cake.
Her two daughters, Matilda and Nancy, get on really well with Frank and so there was much fun had and much food eaten.
Turning 46 that week turned out to be just the right age and the right place to be.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Dorset Tales :: Stonehenge

En route to Dorset we passed, and stopped off for lunch and a run aorund at, the awesome Stonehenge, just by the side of the A303.
It is around three and a half hours from home and we were more than ready for a break by then, even though we had already stopped off for coffee an hour or so beforehand.
From the road it looks tiny, really.

And yet, from up close it is stunning.  
Considering that many of the stones that were originally there are no longer in place, it's amazing to be able to get so close to this beautiful monument.
And look at how close it is to the road!  
See that lorry there?  
It feels wrong but that's where it all is.  Right by the road.
It's a small island this island of mine!

And I leave you this time with a promise to post more photos from the trip and a little film I took of Frank enjoying the best bit of Stonehenge!  Forget the ancient monument and what it mght all mean and "Look at that puddle!  Oooh, it's good I have my wellies on!".

Thursday, 7 March 2013

We are all in the gutter (but some of us are looking at the stars)

It's been dawning on me rather slowly that I may well be more than a little exhausted.  
Our nights have improved over the past week but my rhythms are still out of whack and three months of blood glucose testing around two or three times between midnight and seven in the morning has really, and please excuse the crassness of this, kicked the crap out of me.
It's the other D-word: depression.
It's not major, but I feel it. 
 I am walking through treacle.  
Everything is an effort and yesterday evening after one hell of a long homeschooling day in which Frank was full-on needing my time and energy from half six until bedtime and couldn't seem to settle to doing anything independently, I took to the sofa, lay under a quilt and cried.  
Andrew made dinner.  
Frank looked startled and bustled off to make me a heart-shaped card.  
And I cried. And cried. And cried.
And then I got up and had my cheese on toast with salad and chatted a bit to my boys.  
Andrew went out to his poetry group and, once Frank was asleep, I watched a documentary (Forks over Knives, in case anyone was wondering). 
I needed that release.
Living with a chronic condition is deeply unforgiving.
It is extreme.
An extreme way of living.
And, boy, does it take its toll.
~ time at Musa, alone, a few weeks back, with tea and an inspiring book ~

I hadn't intended to post about this as I try hard to be upbeat
But it cannot be denied that I am 45 years old and cream crackered!*
My energy levels are really low at the moment and yet as a D-parent I am running a marathon.
So, this is how I intend to move forwards.
I will not be visiting my doctor as I am not in need of medicine.
I choose, instead to look to the light and to a sense of personal possibility.
I choose to look up at the stars, from my personal gutter!

I will be making some changes in my lifestyle and might even post about them here, although I feel terribly shy about it at the moment.

Some of the ideas in my head at present involve
  • major dietary overhaul with a view to eating a mostly plant-based diet and cutting out the processed foods and caffeine.
  • researching sleep, blessed sleep, and how I can get me more of that magical stuff (I'm thinking naps in the daytime whilst Andrew has Frank)
  • fresh air and movement (not always easy in damp, chilly northern Europe but not impossible either and I can swim at the local pool)
  • less screen time in order to fit other things in (and perhaps a new computer as mine takes an age to do anything!  I can hang the washing out whilst it gets ready for me to send an e.mail!!)
  • writing down my goals and values, a kind of personal manifesto if you will, as I am so fuzzy of head that I barely know the day of the week at the moment
  • more creative space for myself 
  • getting back into reading novels (and this one first)

We go away tomorrow morning to Dorset, Thomas Hardy country, to visit my sister and her lovely family on their dairy farm.
We have rented a cottage in the stunning village of Cerne Abbas.  
Cerne Abbas is well known for this chalk figure carved in the hillside!
(Brace yourselves, anyone clicking on that particular link! )
A cottage we have rented twice before and love.
I am sooooo looking forward to a change of air and to a little time to reflect on my personal manifesto for this spring and summer.
I will be back with the muffinmoon manifesto soon.  
It feels weird to out this all in such a public space but I want to be accountable, even just to myself, but this is as good a place as any to get it all down on virtual paper.

Thus, stay tuned for more and also for pictures of my gorgeous nieces Matilda and Nancy with their cousin Frank!
 Here's a taster form Kersey in Suffolk this Christmas.
~ Matilda & Frank ~

~ Nancy ~

Much love.

*cream crackered is Cockney Rhyming slang for knackered, ie. very tired

Monday, 18 February 2013

Prayer Shawl for Newtown

Knitting happens pretty much every day here.  
I knit whilst Frank puts on Lego shows for me.  
I knit whilst we play boardgames.  
I knit whenever I can.  
I like to keep my hands busy and I like Frank to see me do exactly that.  
I've never been one for constantly playing with my mobile phone or my laptop but my fingers are always busy, clickety clacking away with the sticks and string.
And, I knit when friends are expecting babies.  Oh, the joy of those teeny tiny knits!

So, when the core-shaking news came from Newtown late last year I began to knit.  
A Prayer Shawl.  
A Prayer Shawl for Newtown.
in progress

 I am not a religious person but every day I knit a few more rows of this and my thoughts and heart went across the water to those who surely have suffered something that nobody ever should.
Every stitch, honestly every one, has prayer for comfort and hope in it.

from the back (it curls a little but I don't mind that)

The yarn I chose was from my blogger friend Hannah at Home Baked.  
She has a yarn store on her blog and tempted me with a January sale!  
That yummy yarn is Araucania Tepa and it was lovely to knit with.
and from the front (modelled by the woman who wins the award for most uncomfortable in front of the camera ever!)

It will be packed up and sent off at the end of the month after I have paired it up with another that my friend Teresa has knitted.
I hope this shawl comforts someone, somewhere.

I feel glad to be back in this space and happy to share my days again.

Happy Monday to you all.

Prayer Shawls for Newtown link here .

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Choosing Love

Well, hello there!  
This post has been a long time coming and for that I apologise.  
It's a long one too, so you might want to grab a cup of tea!
My blogging mojo upped and left me way back in the autumn and is slowly returning as the winter turns to spring.
Once out of the routine of blogging it can be hard to get back into the right frame of  mind again.  And I have struggled to put my feelings into words.  Struggled to be authentic, because that's what I aim for and I never wish to write from a place that isn't authentic.
So, here, in the middle of February I welcome 2013 with my resolutions of Simplicity, Vitality and Community as my aims. 
My lovely husband and I spent New Year's Eve reflecting on the year gone by and on what we hoped for for the coming twelve months.
2012 was a difficult year for me when I look back at it.  
And when life is difficult for me, it is difficult for my little family.  
It's a simple equation.
I felt more tired.  More overwhelmed.  More in need of solitude.  Less engaged in my own life.
Reading this it looks like I was depressed.  But I don't think I was!
Just processing some things and moving from one phase of my life to another, maybe.
In the autumn we had a difficult time at our hospital appointment.  Frank's HbA1c was its highest ever and I had to look the kind doctor in the eye and admit that I had been running him a little high as I was so very fearful of him dying in the night.
I cried, in the doctor's room and in full view of Frank, and spelt words out so that he wouldn't hear me say words like "die".  
That dark ball of fear in my gut was exerting its hold over me and in that room I had to admit it and face it down.
Anyone with young children knows that sleep can be elusive.  
Have a child with Type 1 diabetes and sleep, good, solid, restful sleep, is like gold dust!!   
Andrew doesn't wake in the night much and so all the night testing is mine and all the fetching of water is mine too.  I do it gladly but it takes its toll on my 45 year old body!
I was trying to get more sleep but it's a false economy of the most awful sort to do what I was doing.  It wasn't terrible but I was failing Frank and needed that wake up call in the doctor's room to bring me back in some way.
I truth I still have that ball of fear but as we left that doctor's room that day I made a vow not to allow it to rule me.  
This takes effort every day on my part.  
Every single day and then every, single night.
Every single night that I medicate my child to the point of hoping to maintain his health and not go so far as to make his blood sugar go so low that he dies.
I factor in growth spurts, excitement, tiredness and evening snacks.
I factor in how exhausted I am and set the alarm accordingly. 
I hope and I trust the medicine and the pump.
And, truly, truly, I know that hope is the only way forwards.  
Other wise the dark ball of fear wins, and it wins every day.
So (I'm getting to the point in the title of this post, I promise!):
I choose, every single day to look to the light and for myself and my husband and my beautiful, gorgeous boy, Frank, I choose love over fear.
 My first act of choosing love was a little family adventure.  
We soooooo needed one!  
And so, on one of the snowiest days of the year so far, we headed off to London.  For three days.  
Staying in a hotel and everything!
And ,oh my, I fell in love with London all over again!

waiting for the train at Colchester North Station

chowing down at Wagamama's on the South Bank

Wagamama Man!

my love, up in the air on the London Eye
Frank enjoys the view of Westminster Bridge, The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben from the London Eye
I don't like heights!

the amazing roof of The British Museum

nothing Freudian about this dessert ... ahem
And so here I am in mid-February ready to begin blogging again.  
To choose the light and to share more of it here.  

I hope I have a few readers left and thank you for sticking with me.  
Much love.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Keeping it Simple

We are a family that don't really fit the mold.  
We are older parents.  
We homeschool.    
We don't desire more, more, more.
We try to be as natural as we can, whilst living in suburbia and needing synthetic insulin to keep one of us alive, and thus the rest of us sane.
And yet every single one of these decisions sits well with me.  
I've always felt like a square peg surrounded by round holes, so making some of these life decisions have taken no time at all.  
No soul searching.  More a kind of gut-searching, really.
Does this sit well with me?  
Yep.  OK then moving on , what's for dinner?
Nope. OK then let's not do it/stop doing it, shall we have pancakes for breakfast?
I believe in keeping life simple;  both for my child and for myself.
Routines sit well with us.  
Time at home just pottering around the garden or drawing or watching a bit of TV sit well with us.
There are many activities on offer for us and Frank as homeschoolers in our town and yet we have taken part in very few of them over the past couple of years.  Frank has shown a desire for lots and lots of down time at home.  Time to play Lego, draw, paint, dig the garden, make chalk art on the paths, wrestle and, my favourite, roll around on the floor kind of aimlessly, often under the table or a chair!
Or even, as below, pretend to be a statue with his teeny tiny toy seal (Snuggly).

These past two weeks have been unusually busy for us.  Frank turned six in July and has been expressing an interest in seeing his friends more often.   We catch up with other homeschooling friends fairly often and regularly take part in Craft Swaps and play dates.
Formal lessons have not happened yet but something in the changes in Frank over the past few months made me feel confident in booking him a place on a trampolining course at the local Leisure Centre.  
So, after some quiet chat about how it's good to try new things and how he likes bouncing on the bed and how his friends love the trampolining class and the teacher, Frank was ready to give it a shot.


He loved it!  
Maria, the teacher, is wonderful with the children; encouraging and funny and kind.
Then two days later, we hosted a pottery class here at home for Frank and six other children.
He loved it!
And the following day we took part in the introductory session for an Arts Award being offered to homeschoolers here in town.
He loved it!
So, three new sessions on top of two play dates this week and we are all in need of a little reflection:
did it sit well with us?
If all these activities were on every week then I can honestly say it would not sit well with me.  
However, with the pottery only being once a month and the art every two weeks, we can take the trampolining on board weekly and still enjoy our much-needed simple times at home.

Simplicity is always on my radar but more so than ever this week as I have signed up for a Simplicity Parenting e.course with Kathy over at Bliss Beyond Naptime.
And with a delicious serendipity the course starts on Monday 1st October, the day after I return from two days away at a yoga retreat in Suffolk (my first ever retreat of any kind, and I'm not even that great at yoga, I'm kind of nervous but soooooo need it).
So, here's to keeping it simple.
And breathe ...

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Ryan's sunset

Not wanting to let the beautiful sunset of Ryan's Festival go without being officially blogged.
A week ago today this was it:
the sunset over Prettygate in Colchester, England on the day that Ryan Schuhmacher was celebrated far far away in California.