Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Day 36 - no idea why a guy is holding it.

Tuesday 5th February

Another very windy day on the island as we continue to battle with these winds. Joyfully the winds are coming straight down from the north now so I had not ventured outside for very long. Our storm-bound island is looking a little ragged round the edges but we always come right side up and I am sure we will do this time.

We have had some of the white stuff at last but it was so disappointing. It was far too wet and even my attempts at telling it to man up and turn into those nice large fluffy flakes had no impact. So a dusting would best describe the event and certainly a long way away from sledging conditions. I am becoming quite the frustrated sledger. In life I stick to what I am good at and I am good at sledging. You may study me in full flight and think things like 'bonkers' and 'nuts' but I would prefer 'fearless' and 'slick!' For me sledging is a race. It has to be a race and I have four children who will willingly take me on. If we ignore Harry for a moment (because he wins everything) I do well against the fierce competition. Yes, I know I have been known to cheat by pushing my children off their sledges in my bid to win but that is sledging.

I am aware that I told you in a previous blog that if it snowed we had a day off home school but I should have clarified that it needs to be lying snow. Enough to throw snow balls, build a snow woman and, of course, sledge. Despite our best 'willing' efforts we got no where near that today so home school continued. We have taken a small but crucial break from our EU studies to consider the plight of Richard III. How completely exciting that his body has been founded. We had studied him before but really only with reference to either the War of the Roses or Henry Tudor. So, we took this opportunity to look back through the historical evidence to acquaint ourselves with the man. The children have all enjoyed history but perhaps George and Max the most. We appear to have lost two hours today when we interrogated the evidence and made our own decisions about this slice of history. We think, on balance, the evidence points to him killing his two nephews and we believe his downfall came about because he simply couldn't draw on enough loyalty among his subjects.

I love sessions like we had today because the papers tumble off the table full of diagrams as we try and figure out the various claims to the throne. We always go backwards to come forwards. We look at the time before Richard came to the throne to create a context. That took an hour and then we all felt the need for a break before charging into the life of the main man himself. Tomorrow we will then be ready to consider what has been uncovered and how the science allows us to be sure the skeleton was that of Richard III. It will be a couple of school days well spent and it plugs a little gap in our studies. George could probably tell you all the names of the kings and queens through history but Max could tell you more gruesome stories as he is a fan of 'Horrible Histories'. If your children haven't yet discovered this TV programme it is well worth a look. History becomes serious fun and children just have the best memories. As I launch into my working knowledge of the War of the Roses Max interrupts constantly with gruesome tales from the battle field. We managed to produce a mind map each which made all the necessary links between people and events and helped us make sense of all the battles over the throne at this time. Mind mapping is a key learning strategy in our home school. It is used in almost every subject and has given the children clearer thinking skills. We ended the session once we had become saturated with new knowledge and the boys both said thay couldn't wait until the next session. Job done.

It is only after home school is finished does my working day begin. Resisting the temptation to take flight with my tunnel I turned my attention to my continued preparations for Mother's Day. The collection is starting to come together and I am feeling a little less stressed by it all. Without fail, I produce lavender hearts for this occasion and I don't think I would be forgiven if I did not. Sitting in my studio sewing is always one of my greatest pleasures and so another couple of hours drifted by.

The sea was and still is raging and it just makes me feel very small indeed. The force of nature is being felt on Arran today. I have also managed a very early draft of the commissioned review of the Peter Rabbit exhibtion in Glasgow. I was approached to do this review as a result of a winning piece of children's literature that I wrote where I turn the Peter Rabbit story on its head and re-tell it from the point of view of Mr McGregor. 'Poor Mr McGregor' was my first attempt at writing for children and I was thrilled to do so well with it. With my teaching background some might argue that this a natural step for me. I believe, however, that writing for children is far more difficult than writing for adults. Which direction I will ultimately go in is open to question at this time. I have posted 'Poor Mr McGregor' on my personal blog in case you are interested. Just click on the link.

I confess to having a novel planned out and the first couple of chapters written. The problem I have is lack of discipline. I agreed to do this writing assignment for the year because writing something every day is good discipline and necessary if writing is to become what I do. The hope is that this new found discipline will reach as far as my novel. It is a tale based on a true encounter that I had in Winchester station. The encounter touched me so deeply that it provked immediate writing while on the train journey that followed. Some time later I retraced my steps to see if I could repeat such an encounter and to my complete joy I could. It is with the permission of the lady at the heart of this encounter that I planned the story and, although largely fiction, it has its roots firmly in reality. All this chat makes me want to get on an write the thing!

Before that though I have a short story competition that I really want to enter. It is something I feel rather inspired to do as my father wrote short stories. I have had quite a bit of success with flash fiction but they are short short stories. My logic is that I graduate from flash fiction to short story and from short story to novel. It is a logic that I think I will pursue. Speaking (broadly) of graduation I have just completed my distance learning course in Dharma and Buddhism from Samye Ling

This has been very good for me as it has really tested my intellect. As I completed my Masters degree many moons ago I really felt I needed to exercise my brain cells a little. As with many distance learning courses I almost lost the will to live on numerous occasions but as my two eldest children are champions in distance learning it was important not to let the side down. As a result of this excellent course I feel I understand the world better and, importantly, people and their relationships. I am not so sure I am a better person having completed the course as I always consider myself in 'draft' form. It was a challenging and rewarding course and I am pleased to have been part of it.

I am off to play taxi driver to Harry before tackling an ironing basket that threatens to squeeze us out of our own home. I confess that the radio will go on while ironing and yes, there will be dancing!

Speak tomorrow. xx

Picture is of a wedding bouquet that I created using spring flowers. No idea why a guy was holding it but there you are. A little bit of colour for us all. xx