Blog Archives


Would you ever wonder
Why you bothered to
Get out of bed
From a safe embrace
Into the cold world
Where everything that was done before
Needs doing over
And nothing has changed overnight
Until it does
But not in the way that you hoped for.

2015-06-04 20.13.48


2015-06-01 19.35.07

Autumn Tree

This has been done by the eldest (twelve) on my phone when she was sitting in the car for a few minutes whilst I bought some dog food at the pet shop.

This has been done by the girl who says she doesn’t like art (as it’s taught in school) anymore.

This has been done by someone who has an instinctive approach to form.

tree (1)

Longer Days

lady sunset

What can it all mean?

Don’t ask me, it’s Sunday.

by Elodie

by Elodie

End of term feeling

Is waiting for the end of the school year better than being on holiday? You know, that whole delayed gratification thing… I am sure if you asked my children that question they would immediately say, ‘Hell, no!’

But for me, knowing that there is an end in sight, is better than the actual end. Once the children break-up – and this term has been a marathon seven weeker – it won’t be five minutes before I have to start stressing about sourcing and buying new school uniforms and shoes and P.E. kits and so on and so on. The fact that the eldest starts a Whole New School in September means we are going into uncharted waters, both logistically and physically. This is the first time that she will, for example, have to wear a blazer…

So, perhaps, the trick is to try and seize today and wring it out – slowly. Today is warm, today the work is not too hard. Tomorrow it will be different again, harder I imagine. So today, mentally, I let the anchor go. It has not yet hit the sea bed, but the wind has dropped and we are becalmed. I imagine the anchor falling, cutting through cool water; water that gets a darker and darker shade of blue as it sinks further and further away from the light. Sinking past the pretty coloured fish that flit under what’s left of the light, before you are eyeballing a pilot fish somewhere on the way down to the Mariana trench. For me, that’s always the best bit, that part in the long middle is always the most interesting – the part where you are no longer on deck and you have not reached the bottom of the ocean. I suppose, it’s the process that interests me most, perhaps even more than the final product. And that’s why I enjoy the drop, because it’s where realisations find you – when you freefall, when you aren’t even looking for them.

Unfortunately, I cannot get this analogy to work properly when flying on a plane. Then, the bit in the middle is definitely the worst – even with the in-flight entertainment. I think it has to do with passivity, if I was doing the flying, I would be fine. Anyway, here’s some more end of term work. I’m realise I am mixing my metaphors – the deep blue sea, the sky and the yellow brick road – but if you can’t do that at the end of term when can you?

By Elodie, 11

By Elodie, 11




They don’t look the same do they?

Anyway, today marks the occasion wherein my eldest daughter gets to celebrate the fact that in her first year I managed not to drop her on her head and in the second, I noticed she’d shoved a bead up her nose before too much harm was done; in the third I found her a playgroup from which her only memory is playing with a toy called a ‘Troll’… By her fourth year, I was getting the hang of it and enrolled her in school; in the fifth I enrolled her in another. In her sixth year we had mastered the art of doing her hair in a pineapple do and in her seventh I had managed to uncover her hidden talent for the waltz. In her eighth year I was still remembering to feed her, but by her ninth she could feed herself by making pancakes; her tenth year marked the occasion of her common sense often overtaking my own, and today, well, today she is celebrating by taking her SATS.

Funny how things go.


One she made earlier

One she made earlier


In a horse, temperament is going to make one’s life harder. In a daughter: same. I cannot complain. Any aspect of temperament that my eldest shows has probably, in part, been handed down to her from me – her father being the most sanguine of people one might ever, and I mean ever, hope to meet.

It makes life interesting as they say, although I am never far away from thinking of that saying, that is a curse in disguise, may you live in interesting times. Anyway, so far today we have not had too many flashes of the famous temperament. A little snapping, yes, but thankfully no shouting or storming. What we have had is the most delightful expression of a minor artistic frustration to the mundane parental question, ‘What did you learn at school today?’

And so began a little outburst about the art lesson, which surprised me because this is one of her favourite subjects. It turns out however that now she is ten, going on eleven in a few weeks, she has not only a love of the subject, but an artistic view. It went a bit like this.

I do not like Mrs X at the moment because all she makes us draw is geometrical drawings, maths drawings. Last week we even had to draw the climbing frame. I like natural subjects, not maths drawings and we haven’t drawn living things for ages. And then, once, Mrs X picked the shiniest red apples from the tree, the ones that we aren’t allowed to eat and she put them in her oil pastels box. So we weren’t allowed to eat the apples and we weren’t allowed to draw them either. What a waste!

Here’s a silver birch tree close up. I would never want to eat one but I didn’t want to waste the beautiful textures.


On practice

In this instance the practice I am showing is that of my daughter and her art.

All the rhubarb you read on here is my own writing practice of course. Many thanks for being the blog lab guinea pigs, it helps. Now, I don’t know where my daughter is with the 10,000 hour practice rule as per Malcolm Gladwell, but she certainly spends a fair amount of time in her bedroom creating things. I was just in there and the floor is covered with the evidence.
I was particularly intrigued by a round piece the diameter of a car tyre…

If I apply the 10,000 hour rule to the blog, which is in excess of 1500 posts now, I reckon I am still only halfway there at most. Then there are those that say that ‘the rule’ is all bunkum anyway and it certainly would be, if you didn’t enjoy the practice of practice itself (which I did not at all when it involved me playing the violin).

On this theme, I’ve included a quote about practice underneath the picture gallery (queue Tony Hart music). The quote tipped up in a serendipitous fashion this morning somewhere on the social networks; however I was slightly more tickled by this tweet from @eggdog which is just the kind of thing that would distract you from getting your practice in, whatever it is.

“facte: you eat 28 spiders in your lifetime. always 28. if you are about to die and you have only eaten 3 then 25 spiders arrive at once”

pencil colour turtle

pencil cat

pencil dog with bone

pencil colour frog

Apologies for the shadows cast by my taking the photos on my lap. Lazy, lazy, lazy.

Anyway, here, finally, is some erudition as opposed to my own ramblings. That missing 5000 hours in my practice is definitely showing this morning…

I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. In each, it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of one’s being, a satisfaction of spirit. One becomes, in some area, an athlete of God. Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.

– Martha Graham
American dancer

Bringing Dickens up to date

My eldest got it into her head that to celebrate this, the 200th year of Charles Dickens’ birth, she fancied dressing up as Miss Havisham, which she duly did.   Very nice she looked too, mingling in the streets of Rochester for the Dickensian Christmas festival over the weekend.  She gave herself a contemporary context every now and again though – saying that she would be krumping as Miss Havisham – which she did.

It looked a little like the final sequence of the Chemical Brothers video for Galvanise, without the arrests thankfully. I can’t listen to the track without thinking of her and me being driven across Turkey from Antalya to Turunc, across the mountainous interior and into the night.  This was on the occasion last year where I made a complete hash of the passports and subsequent travel arrangements, from which I was saved by the combined efforts of my maternal family, for which I remain truly grateful.  The eldest was a grand girl throughout, even as I popped the valium, and remains so, despite her krumping as a Victorian proclivities.