Layers of Leaves

Layers of Leaves

I can’t resist the photos of my grandchildren, layered in clothes, playing in layers of leaves in the woodland.  Autumn has arrived in the Cotswolds, and it is certainly a magical time of year.

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Layers of leaves lie

Overwhelming the senses

Deep in the forest

 

 

 

Walk this Way

Walk this Way

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Almost the end of the summer here in the UK and Autumn is definitely in the air.  So, I went with the grandchildren to Westonbirt Arboretum.  The arboretum is so popular that the car park was overflowing, but once inside the woodland is so vast that it didn’t seem crowded at all.   The aim of the visit was to go on the Gruffalo trail but we found that a bit disappointing.

However, a new experience for us was the bridge-like structure which takes visitors right up into the canopy of the trees.  The bridge is very cleverly built with angled slats on the sides so that even the smallest children or wheelchair users can see the trees every step of the way.  At intervals, there are viewpoints like ‘crow’s nests’ with information and pictures of the wildlife you can find.  Some of the wildlife was a bit too realistic as there were swarms of bees building hives in some trees!

Up there on the walkway you get a totally different view of, and perspective on the 15,000 trees from all around the world which thrive there.

All around the arboretum there are woodcarvings and buildings created from the trees in the woods.  They are magnificent.  But the grandchildren’s favourite was in the adventure play area.  There was a sea theme with a huge pirate ship, small canoes, sharks and fish, all carved from the wood.   The grandchildren loved it and I can’t wait to go back in Autumn when the trees have turned golden and red.

Wooden Walkway and other structures at Westonbirt

Trees are structures just made for climbing up and over, or jumping off!

The Western Red cedar is a spectacular structure

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And lastly,  a woodcarving

Time to play

Time to play

 

Toffee aged nearly 7 months

Each week I spend lots of time with my pre-school grandchildren and I love every minute of it.  I have so much fun joining in their fantasy worlds where dinosaurs roar, toy trains hurtle through tunnels, sparkly unicorns upstage colourful ponies, and teddy bear families have picnics under blanket-covered playpens.

There is not a bit of my tiny house that hasn’t been given over to play, and that includes the garage, shed and garden.

I realised this week that although I may be getting close to my second childhood, I am actually reliving the one I missed and wished I had enjoyed.

I was born just after the  second world war in a northern city which had been in dire straits with poverty and unemployment even before the shipyards, mines, factories and chemical works were bombed.  The after effects of the war meant more joblessness, more shortages, and rationing of even  essentials like food.  Toys were a luxury that very few children in my area had, unless they were home made.   Thankfully I had a clever mum who knitted dolls and soft toys, and a wonderful dad who wittled away at wood to make tops and whips and covered them with shiny paper for decoration.

Add to the mix the fact that in the 1940s children tended to be tolerated in the family rather than central to it as they are now.  And, as well as all that, or maybe because it, I was a very sickly child who spent a lot of time in hospital, or a horrendous children’s convalescent home where the idea of play therapy was light-years away.

The result as I remember it, was a rather unhappy childhood, thankfully worlds away from the one that my grandchildren are enjoying.

However, the advantage of my early experience is that I developed a vivid imagination and have a buried need for creative play, which is at last being given free rein.

The trigger for this line of thought is in the photo.  No, not my puppy, but the mouse!  I have been collecting the characters from The Gruffalo story for the grandchildren and the mouse is rather special.  It was created by a local woodcarver from a bit of fallen tree in the Forest of Dean.  There is a marvellous museum there called the Dean Heritage Museum celebrating the mining and forest crafts that used to go on in the area.  One of the attractions is a magnificent Gruffalo trail where each of the characters is carved from wood.   I just had to have the mouse for my garden.  I thought it would enjoy living among my daffodils  for a while.   As I stood atop them I wondered if I could find a home in my garden for a 6 foot Gruffalo?  The grandchildren would love it!

Grandma’s house is very small
Just 2 bedrooms off the hall
A tiny kitchen, shiny-floored
A larder where my treats are stored
A shower with a seat inside
Wardrobes where doggy and I can hide
An archway leads into the lounge
Where furniture gets moved around
To make a station for my trains
Or an airport for ‘copters and planes
Sometimes it’s a racetrack for my cars
Or a farmyard with tractors, paddocks and barns
Grandma puts blankets over the table
To make a den, a forest or a stable
In the garden there’s gravel that scrunches when I walk
And a patio where I can draw pictures with chalk
In granddad’s shed there are drawers full of tools,
Boxes of nails, tubes of glue, jars of screws
A little mouse is nesting inside the wood store
While outside live birds, bees, hedgehogs and more
Grandma says her shed is a magical place
It’s furnished and carpeted and curtained with lace
Lavender hangs drying from the painted ceiling
While pine shelves are covered in things that have meaning
Like Icons from Finland, and medals from Lourdes
Calabash from Africa made out of gourds
Matrushkas from Moscow, maracas from Spain
I can’t wait for summer to play there again
Grandma loves it when I come to play
She makes indoor picnics we eat off a tray
She has lots of photos all over her wall
The best one is my mummy when she was small.

 

Victory

 

Oh my goodness I know I should be writing a learned and worthy post on the theme of remembrance for this week’s victory prompt, but I just have to diverge.  I beg your forgiveness for the poor quality of my photos but I was laughing so much as I took them.

This sequence took place on Tuesday morning as I looked after my adorable one year old granddaughter.   The lounge, hall and bedrooms were filled with toys for her to play with, but now that she can walk the kitchen is her favourite place.   For the kitchen is where my little dog hides in her bed when grandchildren appear.

There truly can be nothing more amusing than watching a one year old negotiate with a dachsund.  It was clear the poor dog had no chance of winning and eventually she had to give up her bed, which she did very reluctantly.  Then it was blankets out as soft toys and granddaughter moved in.

If there is such a thing as a saintly dog, my little dachsund truly is one!  She is so good natured and patient under severe provocation.

 

 

“Today was a good day” or  “I wouldn’t start from here!”

In the woods with hubby and dog

There’s a well-known joke, which has been around since at least 1924 about a tourist in Ireland who asks one of the locals for directions. The Irishman replies: ‘Well, if I were you, I wouldn’t start from here’.

That’s the way I feel about today’s weekly photo prompt!

The prompt is “Today was a good day”.  But recently every day seems to present a challenge of almost unmanageable proportions so I am just going to imagine what ‘a good day’ would be for me.

I think my good day would start with a breakfast of fresh fruit with muesli and natural yoghurt.  I would eat this sitting in a Cotswold garden, by a stream with fish swimming lazily by.  To drink I would have fresh orange juice followed by the perfect cup of coffee.  I imagine it to be an autumn day, early September, when the trees are still laden with fruit, the harvest from field and hedgerow is in, and the birds are well-fed and singing happily.

I would be content for a while sitting with my husband and little dog reading a good book; I can recommend ‘The Snow Child’ by Eowyn Ivey; or doing the puzzles in my favourite daily newspaper.  But pretty soon I would want to meet up with my grandchildren for an adventure.

I would take them anywhere with trees and animals, a playground and a picnic area.  We are spoilt for choice in the Cotswolds with natural woods and ancient forests on our doorstep, as well as Burford Wildlife Park, Bourton on the Water Birdland, and Prinknash Bird Park, which are among my favourites.   Westonbirt Arboretum and Cotswold Wildlife Park are close behind.  There we would run free, or explore on cycles, skates and scooters with the youngest in her pushchair.  We would climb trees, collect berries, nuts and seeds, cross wobbly rope bridges, build dens, swing, slide, feed the animals, sing songs, take photos and make up stories.  Then we would have an enormous feast of a picnic washed down with ice cold spring water and followed by a soft whippy ice cream.

The children would have a nap on the journey back and wake refreshed to capture their memories of the day in collage, painting and drawing, or stories and poems illustrated with their photos.  Later we would bake yummy pies and crumbles with the fruits and berries they collected.  We would enjoy them with their parents before sending them home to sleep well and dream of their good day.

I would return to my seat in a Cotswold garden, by a stream with fish swimming lazily by.   My hubby would be there with our sisters and some special friends.  Someone would barbecue a perfect steak for me and serve it with a fresh salad from the garden.  I would have a large glass of beautiful red wine and watch the hot air balloons float overhead as the sun set.  No doubt one of them will be pig shaped!

It’s The Simple Things

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Reflecting on the week ahead of me I am delighted but a little daunted by the prospect of amusing 3 children under 10 while their parents work. These are my adored grandchildren and I love them to bits, but will I have the energy to keep them all amused?
Chekhov considered the work of an artist/writer, to be “the proper presentation of the problem”, so I tried to analyse the root of my anxiety. It became clear that I feel bound to stimulate and educate the grandchildren, while feeding them nutritious meals, sticking to their proper sleep patterns, keeping them clean and safe, and ensuring that they are happy and having fun at all times.  When I consider these goals, I see that they are idealistic and possibly unrealistic given a) the British weather and b) my age and situation.

So I cast my mind back to the things they have really enjoyed in the past and I realise that it is the simple things that bring the most pleasure.  So we can put away the Ipads, Xboxes, Dvds and electronic games and instead get out the wellies and walk!

Dodging the raindrops dressed in wellies and macs,

Jumping in puddles to make a big splash

Picking up pebbles to throw in the stream,

Peeping through fences, who knows what you’ll see

Goats, cows, pigs and hens abound

Sheep in the fields with their lambs all around

Watch a man in a red tractor cut grass in the park

Ring grandma’s doorbell and hear her dog bark.

In the sky there are seagulls,  helicopters and planes

As we walk past the airport along country lanes.

The roads are too busy with vehicles galore

Lorries, trucks, buses, police cars and more.

Popping into the pet shop to see what is new

Stanley climbs up a ladder to get a good view

Of fish, bearded dragons, geckos, rabbits, snakes too.

Reaching the playground we ride the model train

Taking trips to the seaside and then back again

Eating our picnic in the playhouse was fun

The day passed too quickly but now it is done

Walking back was an adventure, we walked on the walls

Spotting birds, trees and flowers, ladybirds and snails

I can’t wait for tomorrow to do it all again.

Grandma’s Angels

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She’s 5 going on 25 with long red hair that gets tangled in the shower. She has a smiley face and the loveliest nature. She lives with her brother who’s 8. He has the same red hair but short. He’s cool with a cheeky grin and a mischievous nature. They live in a small market town in Wiltshire with mum, dad, 2 guinea pigs and a whippet-cross dog from the rescue centre.
She loves to copy her mum; her hair, her makeup, her clothes, and especially her jewellery!
She would love to go horse riding, but it costs too much, so she goes trampolining instead. I watch open mouthed as she bounces; doing front drops, swivel hips, back somersaults, straddles and turns. She is fearless.
He loves to copy his dad; playing football, tennis and golf; soaking up anything sporty. 2012 will be his best year yet, Olympics in Great Britain, what a dream! He is already collecting commemorative 50 pence pieces. He knows every design and every sport. He has collected 15 so far with 14 to go. I could order him a complete set but there’s no fun in that. It is far better to search in pockets, purses and change.
I love it when they come to stay for the weekend to give mum and dad a break. All thoughts of housework fly out of the window as our home is transformed into a tiny version of Disneyland. We do beading and baking, chalk patterns on the patio, create fairyland in the shed, tie imaginary horses to the gazebo and sail pirate ships on a gravel ocean.
He wanders off to find grandad. She sits on my knee and we chat. Tugging at my gold cross and chain she asks,
“Grandma, why do you always wear that?”
“My mummy wears pretty necklaces. She changes them all of the time. She has lots.”
I’ve heard this question before and I usually say,
“I wear it to remind me of my dad because he bought it for me a long time ago.” And that’s true, but today I will tell her the whole story.
A long time ago before your mummy and daddy met, your daddy lived by the seaside in Somerset in a fisherman’s cottage. The cottage was 200 years old and it was a wreck when he bought it. It had pine panelling all over the kitchen and lounge. When he took the panelling down he found 57 types of mould growing on the inside walls. It was very colourful mould, some of it quite pretty, but not healthy to live with, so he had to pay someone to come and treat it. The cottage roof leaked, the windows didn’t open, and the walls were damp. But bit by bit he repaired it and made it beautiful. He put on a new roof, damp-proofed the walls, sealed the floors, replaced the windows and doors, and put in a new white bathroom. He did all this quite cheaply because he searched through scrap yards for things he could use. One day he found an old church window in a scrap yard and he bought it for his bathroom. He knocked down part of the wall and put in the beautiful stained glass window. It was full of colour, rich red and blue, and it had angels on it. When the sun shone into the bathroom it glowed with a heavenly light.
Now he was happy with his cottage and he decided to invite the whole family down for the weekend to celebrate the end of the work. Grandma and Grandad went of course, and your daddy’s three sisters. They were teenagers then and they had a little mini car which they shared.
It was a perfect weekend, sunny and warm. We scrambled on the beach and hunted for bits of pink quartz washed out of the rocks by the tide. I still have them in the garden.
I had my cross and chain on then too, it wasn’t long after my dad died. I felt that when I wore it he was close to me and he would watch over me and keep me safe.
It was a long and tiring day so we all went to bed early. I took my cross and chain off and put it on the cabinet beside the bed. We slept really well then got up early to go home. I had a shower in the bathroom and I was fascinated by the coloured lights shining through the stained glass window. It was so beautiful that I said a little prayer before we left. I said thank you for my beautiful family and thank you for a lovely weekend. Then off we set for home.
On the way back home I realised that I had forgotten to pick up my cross and chain. I was a bit cross with myself for forgetting it, but I wasn’t worried because I knew it would be safe. The girls were staying for another day so I guessed they would bring it home for me when they came. There were no mobile phones in those days so I couldn’t call them!
The next day was Sunday and the girls were sharing the driving home after a lovely weekend. They had found my cross and chain and remembered to pop it on the dashboard before they set off. They were very happy driving along, listening to their music and singing. They reached a sharp bend in the road just as another driver was speeding along. He misjudged the corner and crashed right into the little mini. The car was dreadfully smashed up and my 3 precious girls were taken off to hospital in ambulances.
The policeman who came to the crash shook his head sadly thinking the girls would be badly hurt. But at the hospital they were absolutely fine, just a few bruises and a bit shocked. The girls did not want to tell me about the crash as they knew I would be really worried and upset, so they phoned their brother to come and collect them. He got into his car and drove along the same country roads that his sisters had travelled. When he reached the bend in the road he saw the mini being towed onto a breakdown lorry. He got out to watch and was shocked to see the damage to the car. Just then he noticed something glinting in the road. It was my cross and chain. He picked it up and put it in his pocket, then drove on to the hospital to pick up his sisters and bring them home.
When I saw them and heard the whole story I knew that my dad and the angels had been watching over my girls as they travelled in their car that day. They protected them from harm. That is why I always wear my cross and chain. It reminds me how blessed I am.
One day I will give my cross and chain to her, my angel.

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Grandma’s Words of Wisdom

I have been trying to think who my ideal readers would be ~ apart from your good self of course!
I thought maybe my blog would be appreciated in the future by my much loved grandchildren, the ones I know and any who come along later. It may be that I am not around when they are adults and they might be as curious about their ancestors as I am. My blog would be a useful resource for them in finding out what my life was like and what type of person I was. It would certainly give them an idea of what I believe in and how I feel about things. So I decided to do a little series of tips or words of wisdom that I have gleaned over my lifetime so far. I can always add to it if I do manage to get any wiser!
Another exercise on Zero to Hero is to customise your site with some of the widgets and technical wizardry available on WordPress. I must admit I found that very difficult but I am learning how to put text onto photos so that is what I have done with my tips!

Always treat others gently, you never know what they have endured, or what they are going through

Treat others as you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes

Treat others as you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes

Be friendly to other people and be part of a supportive community

Be friendly to other people and be part of your community

It is a beautiful world.  Appreciate it and protect it

You live in a beautiful world. Appreciate it and protect it

Do something that makes you happy every day.

Do something you enjoy every day.

If you know someone who has a problem be kind to them and try to help

If you know that someone has a problem be kind to them and try to help

be polite and courteous to others always

be polite and courteous to others always

When someone speaks to you give them your whole attention and listen to them

When someone speaks to you give them your whole attention

Realise that people are all different in their shape, size, colour, beliefs, education and circumstances.  Try to see beyond the differences to what you have in common

People are all different in their shape, size, colour, beliefs, education and circumstances. Try to see beyond the differences to what you have in common with them

If you can't say something positive about another person, don't say anything negative

If you can’t say something positive about another person, don’t say anything negative

Know that you are perfect and precious just as you are.  Respect yourself and expect others to treat you with respect

Know that you are perfect and precious just as you are. Respect yourself and expect others to treat you with respect

Know that you are loved

Know that you are loved

Its a Perfect day

Stanley finds pegs fascinating

Stanley finds pegs fascinating


One of the songs sung by the choir I belong to at our recent concert is Perfect Day.
Laughter and Lyrics Choir

Laughter and Lyrics Choir

Today has been just perfect. It is usually called Grandma day as I look after Stanley on Wednesdays and Thursdays. But today it was Turtle Day as I had bought a turtle shaped sand pit for him to play in.
Stanley really is a delight in every way and just spending time with him makes me feel wonderful.
It was especially good today for two reasons
1. We have both been feeling very unwell until today, with chest infections followed by throat infections
2. The sun was shining in a clear blue sky and it was lovely and warm.
Stanley usually arrives at 8am to be greeted by my little dachshund, Dayna who races out of the front door to greet him. They both then race in to get to the best armchair ~ Dayna, and the Chuggington corner ~ Stanley. Now when my children were little it was all Thomas the Tank engine and I do feel a bit disloyal saying this but Chuggington is just so much more exciting! I have collected all the trains ~ wooden and die-cast, some track, two carrying cases, a hard back story book and a floor layout for imaginative play. Now Stanley is only 16 months old but he plays with Chuggington things for hours. He ‘rides the rails’ around, across and under furniture whether or not the dog is sitting on it, he builds tunnels with mega bricks (or grandma’s legs), and he drives the trains in and out of their sheds in the carrying cases endlessly. He just never seems to tire of it. At lunchtime as a special treat he gets to watch an episode of Chuggington which I have pre-recorded while he eats what I have prepared. I have 78 episodes recorded now so that pretty much guarantees peaceful lunchtimes until he starts school!
I jokingly say to my daughter that if I were to go on Mastermind, the BBC high brow quiz show, my specialist subject would be Chuggington ~ I know so much about it I have started creating new storylines as I watch. I also make pictures for Stanley by cutting out the card trains which come with each new toy and building a scene around them with the train names written on. I then laminate them. Stanley loves these and it is how we both learned all the names.
But today, even Chuggington came second to the TURTLE sandpit. I sited it on the patio near a gazebo so that Stanley would have some shade and Grandma would have somewhere to sit. Having forgotten to buy buckets and spades etc., I gathered old plastic containers, a colander and a jug, spatulas and wooden spoons, which worked almost as well. And then the fun started.
When Stanley had enough of that exercise he thoroughly inspected the garden. Being his first Spring at an age where he could make sense of his surroundings it was a joy just to follow him watching and listening. But the highlight for me was sharing the discovery that two of the birdhouses my daughter made for me are occupied by nesting blue tits. Stanley adores watching birds in the trees and bushes, in the sky or on the ground, at the water table or on the feeders. So to show him where they are nesting was a joy.
After that he toddled up to my shed. Now anyone who has read my post “Windows” will know that my sheds are very special places for relaxation and meditation and usually no-one else ventures in there. However, today Stanley looked at the shed, pushed at the locked door and said, “Open, Yea?” in a voice that would totally melt the polar ice cap. Of course I said yes and in no time at all the nicknacks in my sanctuary were all rearranged. There was a moment when I looked at him, ancient toy car in one hand and orange wooden rosary prayer beads in the other and the happiness I felt took my breath away. And I realised that at that moment Stanley and I were both in that place where ‘heaven happens’.

Grandma’s House

our tiny bungalow
Grandma’s house is very small
Just 2 bedrooms off the hall
A tiny kitchen, shiny-floored
A larder where my treats are stored
A shower with a seat inside
Wardrobes where doggy and I can hide
An archway leads into the lounge
Where furniture gets moved around
To make a station for my trains
Or an airport for ‘copters and planes
Sometimes it’s a racetrack for my cars
Or a farmyard with tractors, paddocks and barns
Grandma puts blankets over the table
To make a den, a forest or a stable
In the garden there’s gravel that scrunches when I walk
And a patio where I can draw pictures with chalk
In granddad’s shed there are drawers full of tools,
Boxes of nails, tubes of glue, jars of screws
A little mouse is nesting inside the wood store
While outside live birds, bees, hedgehogs and more
Grandma says her shed is a magical place
It’s furnished and carpeted and curtained with lace
Lavender hangs drying from the painted ceiling
While pine shelves are covered in things that have meaning
Like Icons from Finland, and medals from Lourdes
Calabash from Africa made out of gourds
Matrushkas from Moscow, maracas from Spain
I can’t wait for summer to play there again
Grandma loves it when I come to play
She makes indoor picnics we eat off a tray
She has lots of photos all over her wall
The best one is my mummy when she was small.
tunnel of love

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all the lovely, talented, thoughtful and spiritual people who read and comment on my humble blog.  I have had so much pleasure from your posts and feel that I have got to know most of you personally.  2013 was such a busy year that I have not always managed to write as much as I would wish to, but in 2014  I will aim to be more focused!

The greatest joy of 2013 was watching little Stanley, my grandson, grow.  He was 1 year old on 1st December and he now walks and is a delight in every way.

If you want to see just how much he has changed and what he means to me you could re-read some of my posts about him.

 

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See how he has grown
Stanley with his first toolset 1

Silver

Inspired by Haiku-heights’ September Challenge Day 3 ~ Silver

Each night I take my little dachshund Dayna out to wander in the garden before she goes to bed.  I love to sit at the end of the garden under the gazebo, where it is very dark and totally quiet, to watch the sky and enjoy the last few minutes of the day.  Recently I have been enjoying the tail end of the Perseid shower of shooting stars.  Last night I saw a beauty which seemed much higher than the others I have seen.

Silver arrows pierce

The depths of distant darkness,

And faraway fall

~

Meteorites make

Momentary magic, leave

Lasting memories

~

Shooting stars shatter

The celestial stillness

With their final show

~

I can’t resist reposting a haiku I wrote when my grandson was just a few weeks old!

On a soft white cloud

As silver stars surround him

He silently sleeps

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Look at him now just 9 months old!

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Stanley’s growing up healthy ~ Haiku

These haiku are inspired by the word prompt at www.haiku-heights.blogspot.com

The word for this week is Health.

I am constantly amazed at the pace of Stanley’s development.  It seems that every week he has acquired a new skill and grown a bit more aware of the people, places and things around him.

He is now rolling over, trying to crawl, giggling at his toes or anything else that waves around in front of him!  He is also getting very sociable, going to ‘bounce and rhyme’ at the local library as well as ‘Little Fishes’ at the swimming pool.

He has started eating a variety of fruit, vegetables and cereals that his mum purees for him.  All in all I am delighted to say he is a healthy and happy baby and a joy to be with.

Mini masterpiece

A picture of perfection

Healthy and happy

Healthy and Happy

Healthy and Happy

Bootees abandoned

Tiny toes make tempting toys

Baby’s delighted

Tiny toes

Tiny toes

Curiosity

Compels him to crawl, eager

To investigate

Compelled to crawl

Compelled to crawl

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Gone Fishing

It’s that time of year again when the weather is just about good enough for Gerry to go fishing ~ joy!

Heavenhappens

Under a fishing umbrella by the side of a lake in the pouring rain with husband and grandchildren, heaven happens.  There is nothing quite so exciting as being at the mercy of the elements but safe!  It appeals to our most basic human need for shelter and protection.  All our needs are met.  We are together, warm and dry and we have a picnic.  We are relaxed and at peace.  There is nothing we mustdo but enjoy ourselves.  It is a precious gift ~ time to be.  Grandchildren learn how to fish.  They watch the fluorescent tip of the float marking the place where the line enters the water.  The bait of sweetcorn gently drifts in the depths as we throw more corn in to attract the fish.  And it does.   The float waggles then dips down ~ a bite!    Ben gets the landing net ready and Rosie slides the…

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Small Stones ~ Starry Night Haiku

On a soft white cloud

As silver stars surround him

He silently sleeps

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Tonight I sat and watched as Stanley slept unable to take my eyes off his tiny form ~ a miracle of prefect proportions.

ilovesmallstones

ilovesmallstones

 

A small stone is a short piece of writing (prose or poetry) that precisely captures a fully-engaged (mindful) moment. The process of finding small stones is as important as the finished product – searching for them will encourage you to keep your eyes, heart and mind open.

Small Stones 5 ~ Stanley’s first smile

I can’t believe how quickly my grandson, Stanley is developing. he is 5 weeks old today and he is already smiling! I went for a long walk with him, Jenny his mummy and my little dog, Dayna today. It was wonderful as the weather is dry and mild again. The fields all around Gloucestershire are still waterlogged though with lots of flooding near the rivers. But for me there was only one thing that mattered today ~ Stanley’s smile.

No gold nor jewels
Could be as precious to me
As Stanley’s first smile

New baby

Inspired by haiku heights prompt “New”

Clutching my finger

Stanley captures my heart with

Love overwhelming.

Stanley's hand

Stanley’s hand

Hunger satisfied.

Swaddled in safety he sleeps,

Surrounded by love

Swaddled in safety

Swaddled in safety

Little innocent

In loving arms enfolded

His life in her hands

Loving arms

Loving arms

The word ‘new’ conjures up all sorts of memories for me.

I was born in Newcastle/Gateshead in the North of England.  It is a wonderful city with 2000 years of history behind it, and I still think of it as home.  Famous in the past for coal mining and ship building, glass making and steel works, it is now more famous as a city of culture, shopping and tourism.  It also has some of the best beaches in the UK nearby and the beautiful Northumberland National Park on the doorstep.

North Sea at Whitley bay

North Sea at Whitley bay

The area around the Quayside and the River Tyne has been transformed in recent years into a contemporary scene that buzzes with activity, in the Baltic Art gallery (which used to be a flour mill), and the Sage which is a breathtaking venue for world class music events.  Then of course there are the famous bridges!  The ‘new’ bridge was built to celebrate this millennium.  It is known locally as the “Winking Eye” because of the way it opens to let ships through.  The cycle path and footpath on the bridge literally opens like an eyelid.  It is a most spectacular bridge which is a superb backdrop for all sorts of events such as the Tall Ships race.  The City Council never run out of ideas for decorating or lighting the bridge to make it even more of an attraction.

Millennium Bridge Illuminated

Millennium Bridge Illuminated

Behind the new bridge is a much older one known as the Tyne Bridge, which was opened on 10th October 1928 by King George V.  My late mum was 3 years old then and she remembered sitting on her uncle’s shoulders watching this event.  This bridge carried the Great North Road (A1) from the South of England to Scotland.  It also carried buses – and trams when I was a child!  Many ships have passed under this bridge over the years.

Tyne Bridge Opening 1928

Tyne Bridge Opening 1928

The name ‘Newcastle’ was adopted in Norman times when Robert Curthose, the eldest son of William the Conqueror, built a castle on the site of the old Roman Fort of Pons Aelius.  The original castle was built of earth and timber.  But in 1172, in the reign of King Henry 11 the castle was rebuilt in stone.  Near the river, the original castle keep still stands as well as narrow medieval streets and 14th century staircases.

Blackgate

Blackgate

The Blackgate was photographed by David Simpson

Wishes and a quilt for Stanley

I have updated my post about the quilt as it fits in perfectly with the Haiku Heights theme for this week which is ‘Wish’  I have added a few extra haiku!
Stanley Jack

Stanley Jack

A shooting star streaked

‘Cross a cloudless sky, my wish

Was granted that night

 shooting star xmas

Wishes are woven

Round the world, on a web of

Wisdom and wonder

frosty spiders web

 I wanted something special and personal for my new grandchild, baby Stanley. It should be something useful that he could keep. I decided that a quilt was a good idea. Quilts are great in the pram, on the cot, as a changing mat, or on the floor as a play mat. In my former life as a teacher I loved the book “A Quilt for Baby” by Kim Lewis ~

“There is a farm far away from the town, in a valley in the hills where
a river runs. . . . This is home, my little one. This is where we live.”

quilt for baby kim lewis
In the book the new mother makes a quilt for her baby appliqued with farmyard images ~ sheepdog, sheep, grass, stream and trees. Jenny and Simon have decorated their nursery with beautiful star wallpaper in ivory and grey so that was my starting point. I wanted a shooting star to feature and wanted a material that would be safe, warm and lovely to the touch. So I bought some ivory Calico and padding. My middle daughter, Anna who lives in Barcelona, found coloured silk ~ a silvery blue/grey ~ perfect for the large stars. I had saved a piece of ivory silk from Jenny’s wedding dress for just this sort of occasion ~ that would be perfect for small stars.
Now I am no great seamstress but I have a friend who is! She has a sewing machine which does everything, including star shaped stitches, and she offered to help me. So I designed the quilt and cut out the material arranging the silk stars on the calico.
My friend then used her magic to put it all together with ivory silk thread.
The result is a lovely unique quilt for my precious grandchild. Of course I have to write some haiku about it!

Weaving good wishes,

In blue silk and ivory,

Starburst for Stanley

shooting star xmas

Shooting stars of silk,

On creamy soft calico,

Each stitch holds a wish

shooting star xmas

In spun golden threads,

I stitch my wishes for him,

Health and happiness

shooting star xmas

My love is wrapped up,

In soft silk and calico,

A wish in each stitch

A quilt for Stanley

A quilt for Stanley