Week forty two: in praise of the humble wellington boot

About this time last year. my walking buddy Jill and I decided that the fields were so muddy and we spent so much time shrieking as our trainers got soaked by puddles that we’d just start wearing wellies instead. With the wellies came much more freedom: not just because we could stop picking our way across the swampy, horse-churned paths, of course, but we also found ourselves actively seeking out muddy puddles and splashing through them. We mutter ‘squelch squerch, squelch squerch’ as we squish through the mud – can’t go over it, can’t go under it, got to go through it! We stomp on icy puddles to hear the crack, and this morning we chose to come back through the fields behind the station as we knew it would sound really crunchy as the footprints – both people, dogs and deer – are filled with ice. Who would have thought that such practical footwear could spark such joy?

The fields are breathtaking this morning: it’s still below zero out there, and the trees are rimed with ice. It was still dark when we went out, the freezing fog was still hanging around, and the white trees loomed in front of us like bloody great ghosty things. A phone camera doesn’t do it justice, as you can’t capture the atmosphere, but these are from our walk this morning:

Walking through the ancient woodland on our way back was a more close-up experience: the frost was outlining leaves and turning the grasses and seedheads into architectural sculpture. It plays havoc with your walking pace but the wearing of wellies turns a walk into a less purposeful, more mindful experience – the word ramble comes to mind. With walking boots or trainers I always feel I should be pushing onwards.

Walking this week, both with Jill this morning and with Sue and the Bella-dog in the afternoons, has been a lifesaver. I had forgotten the home school/work juggling act, trying to focus on a meeting when there are two out of the three children either arguing with each other, with me or asking questions about their set work. Thing One – hurray – just gets on with it. Thing Three – mostly – just gets on with it but is susceptible to being wound up by Thing Two, who occasionally gets on with it but generally accompanies herself with a stream-of-consciousness blow-by-blow of whatever she’s up to. The Spanish lesson – accompanied in Spanglish – was particularly tricky (for me, at least).

However, I am so grateful to all their teachers for providing high quality work for them, as well as making daily contact via Zoom for Thing Three. Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, has put both his feet firmly in it this week by telling parents to email Ofsted and complain if the remote learning wasn’t high quality enough: I believe Ofsted were quite annoyed as well. Parents took to their email and to Twitter to praise schools instead, especially given that on Monday schools were ‘safe to open’ but by Tuesday they were all closed until half term. Twelve – twelve – hours to move entirely online, as the address by the man (described beautifully by my friend Chris as the ‘bloviating haystack’) wasn’t made till 7.30pm.

The other thing saving my sanity this week is – as ever – crafty stuff.

I finished the ‘Second Breakfast’ cross stitch, and have started the temperature tree that I mentioned last week. So far it’s all tree and no temperature, and I have used almost a whole skein of DMC 839. I chose to use sparkly white aida fabric for it for no particular reason other than that I had some and I like it!

All tree, no temperature

And that was my week: it’s been a quiet one, and for that I am grateful. Today my plan is to sort out my craft book shelves and see if I can organise them a bit, and to make oat and raisin cookies as they are a family favourite.

See you at the end of week 43!

Kirsty x

What I’ve been reading:

21st Century Yokel – Tom Cox

Educating Peter – Tom Cox

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