Disturbing (AKA Fiction Friday)

It’s been a long time since I last visited Stratford Butterfly Farm

In fact youngest child was about 3 the last time we visited.

That was the time I turned my back for a minute and she decided to pet a butterfly.

Only, 3 year olds are not renowned for their finesse and fine motor skills.

I do hope it wasn’t an endangered species.

Ahem.

So, it’s been a while.

And what are you greeted with when you visit nowadays?

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A shop mannequin with the top of it’s head chopped off, and filled with plants.

As youngest child said as we approached it

“Well, that’s a bit disturbing”.

This Week I Have Mostly Been Reading

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A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.

This is the perfect early summer read.

It is the story of Ove, a man who at first appears bitter and unpleasant but whose tragic background, good heart and stubborn defense of his own, old fashioned, moral values and code of ethics lead, ultimately, to his rehabilitation.  You’ll laugh and, if you’re like me, you’ll weep buckets (earning plenty of eye rolls from oldest child).  This is a real feel-good story.

Next Week I Shall Mostly Be Reading

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.

It’s been on my wish list for a few years.

Hope  it’s worth the wait.

Vroom

Happy Mothering Sunday!

Yesterday oldest child finally had his first driving lesson.

At 13.

They grow up so quickly these days don’t they?  🙂

But this was a birthday present.

Yep, the chance to hurtle through woods, plunge into bogs and scare passing paintballers.

In a 4×4 automatic LandRover.

Possibly the best present a 13year old boy could receive.  Ever.

Or so he said afterwards.

Before hand?



Slightly nervous.  🙂

The cars are all less than 18months old





Because that’s their life expectancy with 11-17 years old screaming around the track in first gear.

I didn’t ask about the life expectancy of the driving instructors.

I also didn’t realise that Andrew, Rosie and myself would be shoehorned into the back of the 4×4 to experience the drive with Jacob.

Otherwise I might have looked for a knitting experience for him instead.



See how nervous he looks there?  That’s nothing compared to how nervous the three of us in the back were looking.



But it was great fun.

Really.

And Jacob was remarkably self-possessed and good at handling the car.

Not distracted at all by the screams from the back.



He’s still not driving my mini though.

Bhuja schmuja

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Yoga tonight.

A Mysore style “self practice” session.

Which means working through a series of postures in your own time, receiving help and adjustments from the teacher as and when you need them.

Which means furtively keeping an eye on where the teacher is and then rushing through the more difficult and uncomfortable poses when their attention is on another student.

Or perhaps that’s just me.

I struggle with a lot most of the poses, but there is one in particular which has become my nemesis.

Bhujapadasana.

Which basically involves squatting, tucking your shoulders under your legs, leaning forward and nonchalantly lifting your legs up off the floor, balancing on your hands.

Or, as happened to me tonight, squatting, tucking your shoulders under your legs, inching your feet painfully closer together until you can cross them and then finding you are completely and unmistakably wedged and stuck in this position.

The feet would not lift up.

Nor would they undo.

The arms were unable to help as they were happily wedged in place supporting the increasingly panic stricken body.

The choices?

A) shout “help” thus disturbing the real yogis who were deep in their practice and drawing attention to the fact there is a, rather rubbish, impostor in their midst.

B) stay in that position for the rest of the class, and possibly the class after that, pretending to have been overcome by a sudden spurt of advanced meditation.  Possibly staying in that position for the foreseeable future as Leamingtons answer to the mad stylite pillar hermits.

C) hoping that the teacher would become psychically aware of my predicament by virtue of the waves of panic emanating from my psyche coupled with frantic eyebrow wiggling.

Never been so relieved to have a psychic for a teacher 🙂

Reprieve

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It feels like spring is just about here.

Without winter really having shown its face at all.

A few frosty mornings.

A sprinkling of snow.

But already bulbs are staring to push through, and curling leaf buds appearing on some of the hardier (foolhardy) trees.

A dry day on Friday and we took our chance to explore close to home.

The beautiful Warwickshire countryside

Along country lanes

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Picking up a companion for part of the way

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Stopping at Chesterton church

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And pondering a “fixer-upper”

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A good day.

Ay Caramba

Youngest child has a new topic to research for school.

Mexico and the Aztecs.

Unfortunately, the opportunities for field trips to bring this particular topic alive are somewhat limited here in the depths of the Midlands.

And after spending several hours with her doing ‘research’ on Google, -which seemed to involve looking at countless pictures of guinea pigs wearing sombreros (yes, really), something a bit more hands-on and rewarding was needed.

If only to stop me prising my own eyeballs out…

So what is Mexico famous for?

Chocolate

And what better educational thing to attempt on a blustery January Sunday afternoon that Mexican hot chocolate?

Pour 500ml of milk into a pan and add 100g of grated plain chocolate, 2 tsp of vanilla essence and 1 tsp of honey.

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Heat the chocolatey, milky mixture – but do not boil.

Mix 1 tbsp of corn flour with 4tbsp cold water.

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When the chocolate has melted into the milk add the cornflour mixture to the pan and stir vigorously

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Once the chocolate has started to thicken, pour into mugs, sprinkle cinnamon on top and serve.

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And if you happen to have a Flake handy to dunk in the thick, hot, chocolatey gloop, well then, even better 🙂

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Yummy and educational.

Well the Aztecs did believe that chocolate was a gift from the god of knowledge, and who are we to argue?

🙂

Remember

It’s funny how the things right on your doorstep are the things you cease to notice.

Youngest child had a homework assignment to find out about Warwick, our County town and right next door to Leamington.

I can’t remember the last time I actually visited Warwick as opposed to driving through it to get somewhere else.

It was a beautiful day yesterday.

The sky was blue

The sun was shining

The air was crisp and cool.

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We arrived just in time to watch the Remembrance Sunday service at the War Memorial near St Mary’s Church

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Beautiful and moving.

The gun shots scared a flock of birds that had been roosting in the church tower, and they swirled overhead throughout the service

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I tried to explain freemasonry to youngest child as we passed the Warwick Lodge

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But the more I explained the less it actually made sense 🙂

The veterans from The Lord Leycester Hospital were at the Remembrance Day service in their finery, so we went to admire the Hospital

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And then warm up in their tea room

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Damn fine coffee 🙂

Our tour finished with a trip to St Mary’s to admire the Beauchamp chapel with it’s superb monuments, possibly amongst my favourite group of dead people in the country

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And a final view over the river to Warwick Castle

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History, pageantry, memory and memorials.

A perfect winter Sunday.

Boo

Happy Dia de Los Muertos, happy Halloween. Samhain greetings.

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There were a few surprised faces when I answered the door yesterday.

And that was before I applied the make up (ba boom)

Five hyped up 8/9 year old girls.

And three trying to be cool but also actually quite hyped up nearly teenage boys.

I was ready for bed by 9.30.

But they were still going at 1am.

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A bowl of eyeballs

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Apple bobbing

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Red velvet blood cakes ready for decorating

And

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Death by chocolate cake.

The streets were packed with trick or treaters.

But I think the noise levels from our small group of girls outdid the rest of them put together.

Ears were bleeding 🙂

May your Winter to come be a snug and cosy one.

Vincent

Still with a bit of an art theme.

As we left Compton Verney we saw an irresistible sign.

For these

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A pick-your-own sunflowers field.

How could we not?

Armed with secateurs the children lost themselves in a field of gold, sunflowers towering above them.

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Bees buzzed.

But thankfully there were no wasps 🙂

And the kids picked flowers with blooms bigger then their heads!

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I did have thoughts of getting them to paint the flowers a la Van Gogh.

But in the end we just enjoyed looking at them

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In the immortal words of Coldplay

“And they were all yellow”

Indeed, Chris Martin, indeed.

🙂

Art

It was sunny yesterday.

Youngest child had a play date so this seemed like a good day for a long overdue visit to local Mecca of High Brow Arts and Culture, Compton Verney.

I’ve been wanting to visit this season to catch the Henry Moore/Rodin exhibition.

And yes, with 5 days left for it to run, it was cutting it a bit fine.

But better late than never.

Compton is beeyootiful.

The grounds are stunning

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The house delightful

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And their exhibitions are always interesting and thought provoking.

The setting of the outdoor exhibition of sculptures was spot on.

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A Henry Moore

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But what is it mum?

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And you can’t help but be impressed at the sheer size and visual impact of some of the pieces

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And then you get to tryout some sculpture for yourself!

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Oldest child’s eyeball and entrails installation.

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But what is it mum?

Then a final walk around the sculpture trail

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Is it a Moore? Is it a Rodin?
No it’s Gwendoline the giraffe.

If you get the chance to go ( before 31st August) do! It’s very family friendly and it’s great for the kids to see pieces like these, in a setting like this.

And the chocolate cake in the coffee shop is pretty darned good too 🙂