Wednesday, 30 January 2013

And still no Internet ...

We are, finally, on the 'phone! But there is a problem at the exchange, an engineer has been reassigned and we are assured of Internet connection by 3rd February. My frustration is enormous; I love my iPhone but it is not easy to blog on its tiny screen and I've just paid nearly £4 for two of the children to have a drink and crisps in the pub so I can use the free wi-fi.
Still, I have been out running on Brownsey Moor and seen my footprints in the desolate and untouched snow, days after it fell. I have been caving with the children and our new friend ( head of local mountain rescue so I was in safe hands) and seen our footprints in the silty mud 60feet underground. Opportunities we are grasping and loving!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Another life

I have been so looking forward to blogging but I only get 30 minutes on the library computer and I have 10 left and still got some financial stuff to do!

I have so much to say about our amazing poetry tea yesterday. We set off on foot up the hill-side and along the barf (a wide, flat stretch of grazing land) to arrive at our friend's house which he has rebuilt from derelict, powered by gas lamps,  a solar panel and a small wind turbine. We had fresh raisin bread, apple cake, pancakes and a long and happy afternoon of laughter, anecdotes, poetry and good food.

Our host is a man of the kind of wisdom born from a life of many experiences and I have been left with much to ponder regarding goals, schedules, savings and time..

BT are due on Monday! Hopefully we will have a phone and maybe even internet at home!!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013


And it's still so busy! I am being forced to look long and hard at my choices and my reactions to figure out why, right now, life feels more, not less, busy that it ever did in South West London.
Is it really to do with BT failing to connect us last week? It does feel that every 'phone call becomes an issue as I have to walk down the road and stand in the snow to get a connection. Simple jobs like a quick transfer of money build up until I find the time to sit, as I am doing now, in a pub with free wi-fi, and then I rattle through the list watching the minutes slip away. On the other hand, no doubt I get those jobs done more quickly and I am not distracted by the computer at home.
Is it really to do with the snow? It did feel last week that the snow made everything harder, not least planning my first trip back south with the children to do my first weekend of private tuition. It was particularly important that I fulfilled these commitments to demonstrate that this ideas of living in the Dales and working in Sunbury was achievable. It was. Despite the snow all week and the car breaking down twice in one journey! But the snow does make it all so beautiful, the whole Dale a smooth white and fresh, untouched drifts to jump in three days after it first fell and the children free to head out of the back of the house and play on the hill-side and build a snowman taller than they are!
Is it really to do with it all still being so new? We have had the electrician round three times, the builder, the plumber and the chimney-sweep. Expensive decisions need to be made about installing showers, stoves and moving gas bottles. We are still getting used to heating the house, finding things in their new homes and remembering to feed the chickens.  However, we have a beautitiful home in a breath-taking location and my morning run from my front door is in an area of out-standing natural beauty.
Is it me? Too easily distracted, too high expectations, just too stressy? I am reminded that I take myself with me wherever I go and that weeding out the busy-ness and stress starts inside with some tough choices about what really mattter, what I ultimately choose to put first. And I will continue with my journey towards and stiller, quieter, more peaceful life.

Monday, 21 January 2013


We still have no communication! No-one arrived last Wednesday and we have been told that they won't  come until mid-February! Shocking service!

We're all well and good though: successful first trip back to London, despite the weather, and now home and enjoying the beautiful snow.  Three chickens are enjoying freedom from a battery farm in our "garth" (a walled enclosure) and the children are enjoying dance and football and are about to start drama (one each). All good!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Get busy

"When we have no project to finish, no friend to visit, no book to read, no television to watch or no record to play, and when we are left all alone by ourselves we are brought so close to revelation of our basic human aloneness and are so afraid of experiencing an all-pervasive sense of lonlieness that we will do anything to get busy again and continue the game which makes us believe that everything is fine after all"
Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out

Friday, 11 January 2013


"The first task of any school should be to protect its privilege of offering free time - the Latin word schola  means free time - to understand ourselves and our world a little better."
Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out

Wednesday, 9 January 2013


Without internet connection I have scheduled a few posts. I found this in my drafts, originally dated March 2011. I don't know why it struck me as worth publishing nearly 2 years ago, but as we settle into our new home and new life, it seems just right for today:

Home is not where you live but where they understand you.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Communication has broken down

Tomorrow we leave the house where we have been staying and looking after the dogs and horses and we return to our new house in a neighbouring village. We only spent four nights there before moving up here, and the children have not slept there at all, so in many ways it feels like moving in for the first time. My daughter said to me that she feels homeless at the moment and in a way we are. Nowhere feels like home, that safe place we know well, that feels warm and famililar and offers both physical and emotional shelter and we are all craving time to settle and make it our new home.
The engineer from BT does not some until next Wednesday, 16th January, and we will have no landline and no internet. There is no mobile reception at the house and so we will find ourselves totally cut-off. It is possible to climb a short distance behind the house and perch on the hillside by a dry-stone wall and pick up a mobile signal. It is possible to walk about 20 metres down the road to a BT wi-fi hot-spot. The pub in the village has free wi-fi, the local town has good mobile reception and a couple of wi-fi spots. And yet I can feel a level of anxiety about being cut-off. I am typing frantically, trying to get this post written and a couple more scheduled as well as looking up electrical safety hazards to being the Physics curriculum with the children and answer and send all necessary e-mails before black-out occurs.
What am I afraid of? Having started blogging again that anyone reading will forget all about me in a week's silence? That friends and family will be so insulted at waiting for a week's reply to an e-mail and will end all relationship with me? That I can't teach Physics without access to the web, that I have no internal or book resources, or that the children will never get this GCSE if I fail to teach this aspect of the course, this precise week?
It is as I face a week without easy internet access that I face my addiction to quick information, easy contact and the perpetual sense of busyness and I start to think that if I want to slow my life down, perhaps switching off phone and computer once in a while would be a place to start.

Friday, 4 January 2013


One thing that we have been keen to change as a family is the sense of always rushing from one activity to another, hurrying out of the door five minutes later than I intended to join one of the busiest stretches of the M25 on our way to book group/swimming/climbing ...
Activities always sound so interesting, so educational, so sociable. They tick boxes for me as a home-edding mother, evidence (ammunition?) in those conversations that doubt my educational choices. But we feel run ragged; what the children really love is to be told that we have nothing planned, that their time is their own. They don't really want to be all that busy.
So we plan to slow down.
But I am afraid that they won't have friends or social opportunities. And so the activities are creeping back in, already!
My daughter is going to try the local dance class, as good a place to meet other girls as any, surely. My middle son has his first football practice on Sunday. My eldest plans to join the local amateur dramatics society - I just need to hunt down the youth contact who I have heard such good things of. And then there is church, and Pony Club, and horse-riding. Plus trying to find some "play-dates" and going for a walk with neighbours or extending and invite for tea and cake.
It scares me to not be busy, to not spend a lot of time with people. But it exhausts me. So we'll choose not to: we won't go to Pony Club just yet and we'll not try to fit in swimming too, or invite anyone next week. I'll cope with the nerves and anxiety and I'll make a note in my diary to review it at half-term (only six weeks away) and I'll choose to let my family begin to experience the space we've longed for.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013


I love new year resolutions. The turn of the year presents the opportunity for me to reflect on how I want to be different and to make attempts to become what I want to be. There is a danger of the resolution becoming the law, exerting a pressure to be fulfilled that becomes an end in itself and no longer produces the helpful encouragement to change I would like; They need to be viewed as prompts to remember how I want to live. I am a sucker for patterns and themes and so have chosen 12 this year, either to be done once or twelve times a month:

1) to host local neighbours to eat at the house once per month (dinner, lunch, poetry tea, just a cuppa and a slice of cake ...)
2) to run 12 times per month
3) to bake 12 items per month
4) to choose not to use the tumble drier 12 times per month
5) to take my son out for a coffee and a chat about his latest writing project once per month
6) to practice navigation skills once per month
7) to take the children on a day-out once per month
8) to complete one painting project per month
9) to sort out one area of my personal admin once per month
10) to finish one book per month
11) to do one thing towards developing my workas a Breastfeeding Counsellor once per month
12) to blog 12 times per month

Together they are a mixture that encourages me to live the way I want to live: none feel over-ambitious and yet there is a challenge there to stop dreaming about how I want to be and to be that way, consistently, month in, month out for a year and see where that takes me.