On Tuesday last week we all snuggled up on the sofa and in armchairs and watched The Great British Sewing Bee. The children and I had watched the first episode on iPlayer before, and the nine-year-old, in particular, was fascinated by the making of the sleeveless cotton top, wool skirt, and silk nighties. The second episode made her very nearly cry, though.

They made a skirt,  things from old shirts, and men’s pyjamas. And when they were discussing the pyjamas, they said “comfort” and “comfortable” several times. She had noticed – as I had not – that they didn’t say that even once when discussing the women’s nighties, the previous week.

I’ve just watched that section on iPlayer again, and she’s right, they didn’t. Not once.

I thought it was a harmless show about sewing. I was impressed that there were men sewing, that there was no male co-presenter to “balance” the woman, that the historians they interviewed were mainly women, all that. She spotted the fairly basic difference between dressing for oneself and for someone else.

Comfortable nightwear. Wow.

It’s a weird cross between winter hibernation and mad education these days. Lego, the old laminated maths sheets from my eldest’s toddler years, almost endless telly, filling in account transfer forms and taking money out of the bank to buy sausages, and almost endless telly — iPlayer and Netflix and CBeebies and BakeOff and Coast and all sorts.




I have no idea why those photos refuse to turn over.


This photo is from mid-September 2012, the 18th in fact. Crikey. But sewing hasn’t become any less alluring.


In fact, someone (who is 7) got a sewing machine for Christmas and has been stitching up a storm. Little tote bags for all her friends, bits of cross-stitch, some mending (lovely green patches on a white linen shirt from the scrap basket, now hung in Daddy’s wardrobe again. He’d better wear it!) and even a bit of knitting.

It’s like a Bagthorpian String.

One. One two. One. One. One two. One two. Ahem.

It’s time for my annual post, I guess. We’ve come out of a long hard haul, lifewise and are starting up again. Christmas brought chemistry sets, so we’re baking again, and there were cheap cartridge pens so the older two are practising their handwriting. My eldest signed up for Mathletics. The youngest counts to ten and a bit. I’ve almost totally stopped painting, but they’ve all just started up again. Train tracks are big. Telly is big. Stars and planets are big. Reading is the biggest of all, for the eldest, and medium-large for the others, though they’re not independent readers yet really.

I expect this year to go rather better than last, what with no chronic illness, no building works, and plenty of space and time.

Before we left I ordered new panniers for my bike. I adore them.


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One of those little military green dots is my eldest daughter, performing in the O2 Arena in London for Theatre Train’s 20th anniversary.

I said that Astrid and Lily the Knight and Lily’s Dragon were all swimming in the moat. Astrid said,

The castle falled into the river. In this story I need a rope. Lily jumped into the river and tied the other end of the rope onto the bit of the castle and then she climbed out and I pulled really hard and it was on the ground!

She’ll be three soon.

She learned SUMMER.

I was going to write a lot about all the academic and schooly things we did today – maths, writing, reading, very educational plant observations, handwriting, little bits of French and Swedish, the mechanics of rowing, Reading Eggs, and the first use of Writing with Ease evar, but… after we ate dinner in the garden, this happened:




Sunset isn’t until after 9pm now. I love summer.

That was the first novel my father ever read, according to family apocrypha. So the phrase sticks in my mind. Today I noticed our apple tree is Doing the Thing – at first I didn’t know what to look for, because although I grew up with apple trees I seem never to have looked closely at them in spring. But I saw something that looked like rosehips today and sure enough, it’s baby apples, only waiting to grow into delicious nutritious (or possibly small, sharp and wormy) eating apples later in the year.


The children are uninterested and delighted, respectively.

The potatoes haven’t flowered yet, so today’s fishing trip into the bags of compost was fruitless. No pun intended.

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