So here we are again – week nine, the end of the half term (anyone else feeling like they’ve run a marathon at this point?) and looking forward to a bank holiday and a week off. Yes, I *know* there’s another half term to survive after this one – and it’s the long one – but we’ve just heard from the primary school that Things 2 and 3 attend that children will only be doing four day weeks from this point on.
We had the ‘Year 7 transition meeting’ this week for Thing 2, via Zoom which was in some ways good as we didn’t have to travel to Ongar; but, equally, bad as then we didn’t get to have fish and chips for tea afterwards. It was good for the children to ‘meet’ some of the staff they’ll be seeing in September (crossing EVERYTHING here) but they didn’t get the chance to see the classrooms and to meet other children. One thing that continues to reassure me throughout this lockdown is the very real care the schools – secondary and primary – have for their communities. Mr O, who heads up the secondary school, talked directly to the children, answered questions both sent in advance and those sent during the meeting, and assured us that any catch-up English and Maths would be delivered as part of the wider curriculum and not at the expense of the creative subjects which made me happy. They have also managed to spin the second half of this term into a positive for Thing 1 in Year 9, seeing it as an opportunity to prepare for the start of the GCSE courses in September.
What was that about a mouse?
Well, I was out on my usual morning walk on Wednesday, taking nice pictures of flowers in the hedgerow, doing the whole “hullo clouds hullo sky hullo sun” thing and I happened to glance down and there was this tiny mouse sitting in the road near the verge. Next to him was his very very squashed mama mouse and an equally flat sibling. The teeny mouse’s eyes were still closed. He was a very small mouse. I gave myself a good talking to about nature red in tooth and claw, and food chains, and all that sort of thing, and I walked away….and then I saw the buzzard hovering over the common. Yes, dear reader, I took the mouse home with me (if his mama and sibling hadn’t been squashed I would have left him, I promise).
With much headshaking my beloved retrieved an old gerbil tank from the shed, and we googled how to look after baby wild mice – off I went to the pet shop for sawdust and kitten milk, and we made him comfortable. He wasn’t injured or worried, and took to curling up on my hand and feeding from a dropper quite well and by day 4 his eyes were beginning to open. The kids named him Noodle because of his tail, and while I was the only one daft enough to get up at 2.30am for the night feeds, Thing 2 took a lot of care of him in the daytime. Sadly, when I was feeding him this morning he had a convulsion of some sort and died, so he has been buried with much ceremony near at least one of my gerbils and several of my beloved’s childhood cats in the garden. Thing 2 is painting a headstone for him as I type. I am under strict instructions to keep my eyes peeled for any more lonely rodents… next time I’m going to pretend I didn’t see anything.
OK, back to the pretty flowers then!
The hedgerows are bursting into bloom at the moment – high level flowers rather than wildflowers in the verge. The scents of honeysuckle and elderflower in the mornings is quite heady, and the high hedges are constellations of wild roses and blackberry blooms.
The garden has also begun to flower like mad, with self-seeded foxgloves putting up spires all over the place (we’ve always had one a year, but this year there’s about 20 scattered about), last year’s lupins which didn’t do anything, more honeysuckle, strawberries, aquilegia, the gorgeous Gertrude Jekyll rose that my late mother-in-law planted and more. The bees are going mad, particularly for the lavender and the lupins. This afternoon we harvested the first bowl of strawberries, which we’ll have after dinner.
You’ve been enjoying the weather then…
Oh yes, definitely – this week has been glorious. I’ve been doing portable crafts – starting a new virus shawl in the sock yarn I retrieved from unmaking my first socks the other week, picking up my cross stitch and generally enjoying the sunshine. I love the virus shawl, it’s so relaxing – at least if you don’t completely forget an entire row on several rounds and have to unpick it. There’s many patterns and video tutorials available, including one by Bella Coco, but as a kinetic learner I found the written pattern linked above to be the most accessible for me. I’ve made several of these over the last few years and they’re a great way to showcase gradient or variegated yarn.
The cross stitch is an IMMENSE undertaking – Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte – which is my favourite painting ever, and it’s very detailed, Fifty colours…it’s going to take a while. It takes several weeks to do one page, and there’s 15 pages. I started in in February 2019 and worked solidly on it for a while but then got distracted, as I tend to do. If the weather holds I’ll be able to do lots in the garden.
I also used the MBJM Four Seasons pattern again to whip up a pair of shorts for me, and made up the last Centerfield top I cut out last week. I can never get the hood to cross over properly, and the neckline broke two needles on my overlocker, but it’s wearable.
On Friday we took the kids out for a bike ride again, this time along the ‘rhododendron path’ which goes through to Gernon Bushes, an Essex Wildlife Trust reserve that we can access without going along main roads. The Essex Way goes through it, and while the local landowners cleared a lot of the huge rhododendrons last year there’s still some beautiful ones left that tower over the footpath. It really is glorious at this time of year, and as an added bonus the path crosses the M11 via a footbridge so we always stop there for a break so the kids can wave to the lorries (oh, ok, so can the adults!).
Wishing you all a peaceful week ahead!
What I’ve been reading:
Jilly Cooper, all week. Pure escapism.