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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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Just a thought….

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



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  • Briony I loved these large poppies when we had our allotment, you just never knew where they were going to pop up each year as they... 25 Jun
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Time to smile

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

- J B S Haldane

Debs Random Writings

I’ve been featured by

encouraging children to read

A ball of harlequin yarn

I’ve started a new knitting project, which also means I’ve finished one. My odd socks are complete and ready to wear. Want to see them?

As predicted, they are odd. Never shall the pair match. The size and stitch pattern are as near to identical as they could be, but the colours go their separate ways.

I expected nothing else, using the casually dyed yarn that I had. Oh darn you, stash busting. The dye abruptly changed into green for half the foot of the second sock. It didn’t even have the decency to line up and do it at the same point as the first sock had shifted colour.

Ah, well. Not every craft project works out to be a masterpiece. I did consider not sharing this one, but that would be misleading. I’m not about giving the impression that every bit of fabric and yarn I touch, magically turns out perfectly. It doesn’t. I take my learning points and beat a hasty retreat to the next project.

I have to admit, there were points, when I was finishing off the second sock, where I would have quite happily frogged the lot. In reality, the time for unravelling had long since passed. Too many hours invested, by that stage.

Thanks to all your kind comments last week, I kept my focus and went for it. As these are destined to be walking socks, the colour mismatch is irrelevant, with a capital “I”. There was no need to waste all those hours of knitting in the pursuit of perfection. Draw a line and move on.

Preferably with comfy socks on my feet, and this pair certainly meets that criteria. No complaints about the fit of these socks and their comfort.

And look. If I cross my ankles, you’d never know the point, where the colours switch, doesn’t line up. I’ll just need to remember this, when I take muddy boots off and toast my toes in front of a country pub’s open fire. All’s well, that ends well, in terms of mismatching socks.

Moving on to my next probably ill-advised stash busting knitting project. I picked up the Sirdar Harlequin yarn at a charity shop, a while back. Only in a charity shop, am I drawn to novelty yarn. Anyway. I’ve started a shawl (ravelry notes). I’m undecided about whether to stick to this pattern, as I keep needing to undo rows. I’ll give it another repeat and see.

As it’s Wednesday (already?), I’m sharing my current book. I’m still reading The Winter’s Ghost, which I’m enjoying. It’s half term, so the children are home. This should mean more time to read, but it doesn’t seem to work that way. In contrast, they’ve been reading lots and enjoying it.

I like to think that this is spurred on by the fabulous fabric bookmarks they made at the weekend, but it’s probably more to do with their current obsession with making reading nests in their rooms. So long as they are reading.

Everyone is sticking to one book at a time, except the 14 year old. As usual, she has three books on the go at the same time. The top three in the photo. She seems to juggle reading multiple books simultaneously, with the greatest of ease and is equally captured by all of them. At the same time.

I’m loving discussing Pride and Prejudice with her. She’s reading my school copy, from when I took A’Level English, too many moons ago to count. It has my pencil notes in the margins. She says they help her. Like I’m sitting there discussing it with her as she reads. Bringing out points that she hadn’t thought about.

I suspect she is also thinking that my quick written notes are less of an intrusion than my long discussions on each point, if I was really sitting there.

So. What are you reading? Any suggestions on an easier shawl pattern, for my harlequin yarn? Not too late to frog this one.


Sharing. Good idea.

Seeing as it’s World Book Day

easter bunny sleepy head

Seeing as it’s World Book Day, I thought I’d search around my blog archives for a few books and crafting sessions I’ve written about. Each one I’m including I know encouraged my children to read.

Jody and rabbit

1.First book  Jody’s Beans was a lovely way to couple gardening and reading. BL was a reluctant reader, but I always see this book as the turning point. We made a bean house for our runner beans. We do each year. I also made the book bunny for BL to cuddle as we read together. Book bunny still sits on our favourite reading chair. Calling out for little readers to read to her.

 totortoises on book

2. Next book is  The Tortoise’s Gift is a delightful story about how the least likely hero can be just that. A hero. Not wishing to spoil the story, but the tortoise saves the day, when the other animals are too busy looking for fame and fortune. It is a chapter book and I’m reading this with TF (6 yo) who is super excited to be reading chapter books.

A couple of years ago, we made little walnut tortoises using pipe cleaners and sequins. They were put on the Christmas tree. Every time they come out, we end up discussing the tortoise and why he succeeded.

BB Chenoo

3. There is nothing like a visit to a bookshop to encourage children to read. We went to Barefoot Books shop in Oxford on its opening weekend. The children listened to a story, made lanterns and of course selected a book each to buy.

They love bookshops and often ask to go to one as a treat. Library visits are popular too. Each year they join in with the reading challenge.

They did feed a turnip to the Chenoo, but were rather nervous of him, I seem to remember. That was before they read the book.

BL reading the Mousehole Cat book

4. We visited Mousehole in Cornwall, one year, which is the little seaport village that the The Mousehole Cat is based on. The children enjoyed reliving the story as we walked around the village. Spotting the mousehole in the harbour and checking out every single cat, that crossed our path.

When we got home, we made origami boats and set up the scene. Re-enacting the story and of course re-reading it.


5.One of the joys of projects at school, is that they sometimes overspill into home time. One of the children was studying Ancient Egypt, so along with a visit to the museum, I dug out Croco’Nile by Roy Gerrard. I love the story and also the puzzle of deciphering the hieroglyphics as you read. Out of print now, but if you can get a copy, I can recommend it.

We extended the story further by making fimo models. These then were used to act out the story. Always very endearing to hear the children performing their version of a story.



AG book houses 3

6.I think this may be one of my most favourite book activities with the children. Make a house and then decorate it as your favourite book.

If you have not come across Alphabet Glue, and you love books, then you are in for a treat. She is a genius when it comes to books and ways to encourage reading.

shadow play wife dancing2 a

7. Finally going to add in the Welsh tales and how we used them to tell the story. The shadow theatre can probably be seen as an alternative to a hand puppet show. I find that the shadow version is less raucous and less likely to turn into a puppet bashing puppet game. The story is told. The start, middle and finish. Not a detail omitted.

I hope all our activities have encouraged my children to read. They certainly love reading now, but that’s not been true for all of them. Now they will all quite happily sit down with a book and read.  Telling me choice parts as they go.

I think you know you have a book worm, when they want to discuss the storyline they are reading. Be it comic or book. Quiet mother smile!

Hope you have enjoyed a quiet stroll through our book archives.

Linking up with:

Thinly Spread
Sharing. Good idea.

Bean House

Its time to plant our runner beans. TF and I have been quietly clearing a different area of the garden for them, this year. My boy loves digging, so a few hours spent with me and a huge array of garden tools – well it is his kind of day. I set up the frame work a few days ago.

Last year we made a round wigwam style bean house. The children loved it, but they found it too small. This year they requested one that could fit them all in at the same time. I set the frame up as a tent, not a tunnel. There is only one entrance.

We do plant a bean house each year, but the children still find it exciting when I describe how the runner beans will grow and create the walls of the bean house. A nature den. Just for them.

BL was jumping with joy at the idea that she will be able to sit in the bean house and pick the beans. She loves the idea of being like Jody in Jody’s beans. I’m glad it is bringing a book to life for my newly enthusiastic reader. (I’m jumping for joy now!)

So, they each planted their runner beans. I showed them how to work out the depth of planting for their beans. BL named her beans in honour of characters from her favourite Milly-Molly-Mandy books (M-M-M, Little friend Susan, Billy Blunt and Toby the dog).

They also created a little flower bed in front of their bean house and surrounded it with stones to protect it from feet. They took turns to sow aquilegia, cornflowers, bunny tail grass and love-in-the-mist. I hope it will look like a fireplace when they all come up. In the meantime, they collected sticks and created another fire pit on the other side of the entrance.

And just to prove that they can all fit in this year’s bean house, they kindly modelled it for me. I think they were more interested in a spider.

I have spare beans in pots hiding in the greenhouse, just in case any of these beans fail or end up as a snail meal.

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There have been cases when people lifted my photos and words, and used them without credit to me or asking permission first. Using them for their own commercial gain. I have now added a level of security to deter people from doing this. Apologies to people who do play nicely. If you would like to use any of my photos, please contact me.

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