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..... We make
..... We explore
..... We nuture

Three children *** Two dogs *** Two parents *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That's us!

We've been blogging since January 2010.

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Craft Projects

Just a thought….

"A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe."



Thank you….

  • Craft Mother Knitting and crocheting do compliment each other well, surprisingly well. Loving the sci-fi stories. 22 Mar
  • Craft Mother I am definitely looking up your book. What a fascinating concept. Looking forward to seeing your case finished. What a wonderful idea to bring joy... 22 Mar
  • Craft Mother Thank you, Deborah. Need to finish it all now. Suspect the cushion cover will be the first. 22 Mar
  • Craft Mother Thanks Lisa. Your knitting sounds good and I'm looking forward to hearing your review of The Nest. 22 Mar
  • Craft Mother The beak worked out well. The shape works better from some angles than others. I could have spent longer. 22 Mar
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Time to smile

"God has an inordinate fondness for stars and beetles."

- J B S Haldane

I’ve been featured by

daily life

Surreal, but at least the chairs are bigger

As a general rule, I quite like odd. Not so much the out-there, making-a-statement odd. More the quiet, and slightly out of the ordinary. Often thought provoking. Not conforming, but not shouting it in your face either. The type that could easily be overlooked, if you happen to be looking the wrong way.  That kind of odd. I squeeze a bit of it into my crafting, because it tickles me.

(This is a long post. I’d make a cup of something before you go much further. It’s a bit of a saga. Otherwise, just whizz down, looking at the photos. There are a couple of spring flowers to enjoy. It’s OK. I understand.)

(needle felted blackbird)

My week has been odd. In little ways. Happening around and to me, rather than of my own creation. Definite surreal moments.

Let me set the scene. There is a general rhythm to my weeks and days. Ensuring everything runs tickety-boo for the family. Left to my own devices, it would probably look different, but I have others to think about.

Then there was this week.

It started on Monday. I got up early and had the house organized, before everyone was up. I am a morning person. I count it as a success if I have the surfaces clear and all the machines (washing, dryer and dishwasher) on the go, before anyone appears for breakfast. Hopefully fitting in a cup of tea and a little crocheting. I’d be ready to sit down and work as soon as I got home from the school run. A good start…..I thought.

(Easter crochet cushion cover in progress. Experimenting with a touch of purple.)

As I headed back from school, I decided to take the route through the woods home. It would be muddy admittedly, but I could let the hound off and take a quiet walk home, listening to the birds. What could be better? I might even spot the bullfinches again.

Just as we reached the narrow, slippy part before the woodland path, we encountered a loose dog, that I’d not seen before. It was huge. A giant, fluffy, black dog heading towards us. Not what I was expecting. A Westie or a Spaniel maybe, but not a fully grown Newfie.

It’s OK. I’m used to big dogs. We have big dogs and I grew up with Pyrenean Mountain dogs, so I wasn’t spooked. The problem was that this dog was on his own. I listened for shouting. I checked the path, expecting to see an owner running down, waving a lead. Surely a dog this size couldn’t be out alone. But he was. No collar either. Odd. At least he was a friendly soul.

(Very old photo of one of our Pyreneans with me. Not the dog in the woods.)

Cut a long story, a bit shorter, over an hour later, we were able to reunite the dog with its owner. Thanks to the help of a lot of passer-bys. It appears he is new to the area and likes to take himself for a walk. Unfortunately, this includes a section of road with a bend. Something tells me, it’s not the last time we’ll encounter this one.

The same day, I arranged to meet up with a friend for lunch. To catch up. She suggested the soup lunch at our local pre-school. Neither of us have children of that age, but heck, why not? It was fabulous to chat to her. It’s always too long between meeting up with her.

There was something, however, a tad surreal about talking career and business plans with her, while sitting on chairs only a few inches off the floor. With 3 and 4 year olds rushing around and serving plastic jaffa cakes (very realistic!) on plates to us and wanting to share their party plans. There was a moment when I had to explain to a three year old why it was probably better that I won the bottle of wine in the raffle, rather than him. Judging by his bottom lip, I’m not sure he was convinced.

There was yummy (real) soup as well, I hasten to add.

(flower inspired craft inspiration)

Wednesday, was orthodontist day for the Teen. Her braces were removed over Christmas and she now has a beautiful smile. This was a check up. The car ride over is usually tense, as she really doesn’t like going. Shame as we do drive through some beautiful countryside to get there, which should be a treat, but it isn’t. Instead we go over and over what may or may not happen in the appointment.

This time we were in there for about 4 minutes, if that. Usually it takes a lot longer, with lectures about teeth cleaning. Mouth pulled around. Bits of wire. Sharp tools. The clip of the wire cutters. Not this time. Quick look. Everything fine. She’s doing a good job wearing her retainer at night. That’s it. We found ourselves back out on the pavement within minutes. Smiling. Slightly unreal.

Once the Teen was delivered back to school, I got my head down and worked through the to-do list. It wasn’t until the evening news that I first heard about the awful attack in London. The rest of the country was already watching it unfold.

These kind of events always seem surreal. Life is going along as usual and then boom, it’s not. It changes. As if you’ve suddenly been jumped into a similar looking world, but it’s not your world. Disbelief and bewilderment. People in the right place, but at a bad time. Not going home that evening. Not following their planned day. Everyone praying that no-one they know is involved. Hearts and prayers to everyone.

Maybe I should worry most when something like this no longer feels surreal.

I’m writing this earlier, as I suspect Friday is going to be a humdinger of a day.  A school event, with a politically correct name (don’t ask, ….. but we are running up to Mother’s Day in the UK), and a catch up with another friend. Judging by my week, I suspect that both will end up being slightly surreal in some way and this post is long enough.

‘Least the chairs should be taller.


Joining in with Jocelyn’s #wotw linky in the morning, with the word surreal.

The Reading Residence


Things I’ve learnt walking my dog to school

I have so many craft projects on the go at the moment, but nothing at the stage of sharing. So I thought for a change I’d share part of my country life.

This is my 14th year of walking down our little lane, on the school and childcare run. The combination of babies/toddlers/school children/dogs have varied, but there has always been me. Donning boots. Ready to dodge cars and cyclists, whilst ensuring none of my brood ends up in front of oncoming vehicles.

There are no pavements. We walk along the edge of the lane, with high hedgerows on either side. Some sections of the lane are single carriage. We often encounter horse riders and even a pony and trap. It is a country lane.

You would be amazed at how fast and close people think it is OK to race their cars passed pedestrians on a narrow country lane. It is close. Common sense seems to disappear. They’ll dodge a bramble or branch that is overhanging the road, for fear of scratching their paintwork, but squeeze past a child within inches. All as close to the national speed limit as possible, because that’s what the road signs say they can do. I’ve often thought about wearing a coat of barbed wire. It would make them think twice about driving so close. That crazy lady again.

Most car drivers are considerate.

I could use the taxi which the council would supply, free of charge. I’ve always turned it down. The walk is 10 minutes and we love seeing the seasons change along the lane. More importantly, I need the exercise.

So we walk. Spotting toads, deer, birds and flowers as we go.

There came a point, during those years, where I had a hand free to hold a dog lead. At last, I could combine the school run with the dog walk. A complete time saver, but with it came a whole set of new considerations. If you have ever walked a dog to school, I think you’ll be familiar with a few of these.

1. Not knowing which hand to wave to friends in passing cars. There is an  ensuing puppet-on-a-string  hand act, as I try to decide whether to wave the hand with the lead in it, and risk the dog’s neck, or the one holding the…ahem…  used poo bag. Inevitably I end up waving a poo bag at my friend, as they drive past.  Invites to come round for coffee, dry up.

2. The moment I’m somewhere remotely smart, I reach into my pocket and release an avalanche of unused poo bags. Declaring as loudly as possible that they are clean, as I hastily recapture them all. Cross another venue/job interview off my list.

3. On the walk, inevitably someone will comment about the size of my dog. Often strangers, slowing down their cars, wind down their windows, to share their insight.  “Put a saddle on her and ride her to school“. “Is it a pony?” “Isn’t that a big doggie?” I laugh in a friendly manner. It’s OK. Still funny. Even after hearing it approximately 71,529 times before. Sigh. I wish I was exaggerating.

4. Reaching the school gate, small dogs dash up and yap at her. She stands still. “What is it? Will I tread on it? What happens if I do tread on it? I’m listening intently out of  pure politeness”. We will never know what she is thinking. For my part, I’m hoping that the smaller dog doesn’t launch itself at her throat and condemn us to a morning spent at the vets. Again.

5. My dog is a thief. No two ways about it. As she passes, she is tall enough to grab cookies from children’s hands or rifle through handbags for sandwiches. It’s true. Often it is so quick neither party realise until it’s too late. Oops! Sorry. Turn tail quickly and wonder how to persuade husband to do the school runs for the rest of the week/term.

6. My dog loves children. She’s grown up with them, so she loves them. A crying child apparently needs a face wash, in her mind. Babies in prams, well, they need face washes anyway. Even if it means rifling through blankets to find them. Just need to make sure all grown-up humans are looking elsewhere. Ah-ah. Oh. No. I’m on to you my furry friend.

7. Identifying three types of children. First type will plaster themselves spreadeagled against the wall as we pass. Velcroed to the nearest building, out of pure terror of a dog.  Any dog. Second group will throw their arms around her, sometimes remembering to ask first. Third group ignore her. May absent mindedly run a hand along her back. Take appropriate action for each type of child.

8. Having the conversation about why people leave poo bags hanging in the branches of hedges. Nope, I have no idea either. Yes, I do know it looks horrible. Sigh. Just because I have exploding pockets, full of ready to use bags, doesn’t mean I understand either. Maybe it’s a protest. Maybe there’s a clearing-up pixie that no one told me about. I use the provided marked bins. Smile politely.

9. Never underestimate the memory or scent ability of a dog. Even three or four years later, she still insists on stopping to sniff where a rotting badger was on the side of the road. It has long gone, but not to my dog. Again? Really?

10. She has learnt where I like to stop and listen to the birds. She understands when I want to take photos, and she has my back. At home, she jumps up, even from deep sleep, to join me for a walk. Whatever the weather. She is the perfect walking companion.

I know dogs aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve worked hard to train her to be a dog that behaves well and is a good ambassador at the school gate, or wherever she meets people and other dogs.

Most of all, I love her company. She is no spring chicken and has reached the upper end of her breed’s lifespan, so I count every day as a blessing with her. We have just over a year of school runs left for youngest. I hope she’s around to accompany me even on the very last one. Or maybe by then, I can send her down by herself to pick up the Boy. There’s a thought….



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