Thursday, 28 February 2013

Day 59 - another idea brewing along with soy wax.

Thursday 28th February

Almost another month of blogging completed - who would have thought this was even possible.  I fill each and every day to the brim and I suspected that a daily blog would be a challenge too far but I have actually managed to adopt it as part of the day. 

The sun pokes through the curtains earlier and earlier now and so I wake much earlier.  Today I had my breakfast in my studio just because I could.  As I walk up the steps an already familiar feeling of calmness takes over and what a perfect way to start the day.  I love working from home and I couldn't go back to a daily compete now; it would probably kill me.  My gentle commute to my polytunnel or studio will do for me. 

Home school was a joy.  Max, George and I completed our research into the nine different aspects of world poverty and analysed what the European Union was doing to help combat each aspect.  Poverty, especially in Africa, is a complex debate and I was pleased to see the boys taking some time to think it through for themselves.  It is very easy for those living in the west to think we know the answers and to over-simplify the problem.  In summary the boys drew their own mind map as a way of remembering the complexity of the debate.  From there they had to choose the three aspects that they thought were the most important.  They differed in some of their choices and so that led to a healthy debate where I could clearly see just how much they have learnt in a very short period of time.  More than that, I could see how they were both capable of extracting the essential or fundamental information.  Max continues to show the most interest in this topic and we are now going to spend some time looking at a couple of international charities that work with the EU.  A short but important piece of writing allowed the boys to express their personal views and begin to measure what they knew against the millennium goals.  There is clearly much more to do.

Once I had set the piece of writing as a task I could get on with other things and I so needed to do some housework.  But I am never far away and I can listen.  It is always so rewarding to hear them discussing the subject that we are studying rather than chatting about the latest computer game.  As a teacher you know they are fully engaged and the learning is of the highest possible quality. 

Harry has had a couple of days away from studying as we have employed him and his friend to do some jobs on the smallholding.  It is amazing just how productive two 17 year old boys can be!  They have walked about half of the property collecting dead wood to store for the fire.  They have also cut down dead branches and broken up an old piece of trellis that is getting replaced.  At last I have a wood store that looks like a wood store. 

As soon as possible I escaped into the tunnel to finish potting on the last of the herbs and sow some more seeds.  It was a glorious sunny afternoon and it is so important to make the most of this fine weather.  I am thrilled with the way this season has got underway a little earlier and I hope that will pay off as the year progresses.  On the way back towards the house I spent a swift half an hour on the back wall preparing it for its paint job.  I love scraping paint off walls. I am a strange creature.  Typically, I saw a pattern emerging that I liked so I took a photo so I can transfer it to a silk painting at some point in the future. But look at the mess I made....

Still I had a couple of boys to help me clear up.  A very late lunch was had on my studio porch where I probably feel the happiest before dashing back to the house to set up for candle making.  I promised to show a friend of mine how to make candles and she was due up any minute.  We spent a lovely hour or so burning soy wax and mixing with rose essential oil before pouring into containers and molds to make the candles.  My candles are 100% natural and the whole experience is so incredibly therapeutic.  She was pleased with her efforts and, armed with a supply list, off she went to get organised to make them herself. 

Apologies for the poor picture I took it too quickly but at least it proves the sun shines on Arran.

So another full day on Hazelbank but hugely enjoyable.  My Mother's Day gifts are selling well and I am turning my head towards the floral designs for this year.  I have a flower school to run a week on Saturday and I simply adore these events.  I love passing on my skills with flowers and seeing what people make.  It promises to be a fun afternoon and George is making us a cake stand full of cupcakes especially for the occasion. 

I have an idea brewing to offer experience weeks on the smallholding for young people (or young at heart) who would like to learn about horticulture and smallholding.  We have a spare bedroom for most of the summer with Molly being away on professional placements so we offer full board accomodation for a week in return for some help on the smallholding and a chance to share our skills.  I am passionate about our young people and I do not think they are necessarily having an easy time of it.  Building up some work skills is so important these days.  Molly is being given her opportunities so maybe we could offer something on Hazelbank.  If any of you know of anyone who might be interested in trying their hand at horticulture or even changing their lives in some way do drop me a comment and we can chat more.  I think this might be one of my better ideas and I am going to give it some serious attention.

Until tomorrow. xx
Photo is of our soy wax melts with beach fragments.  One of our biggest sellers. xx