Big Blue Room

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We have loads of stargates in our house: they are in the children’s eyes

We went stargazing this evening. The eight-year-old wouldn’t keep quiet so we could point stuff out to the six-year-old, because Vega emits some hundred many times light more than the sun — five hundred? I wasn’t listening, because I was trying to show the 6yo the Big Dipper — and she thinks Altair is a really romantic name for a star.

We actually went out to show off the fig tree we planted yesterday. When we dug the old dead weeds out of the pot, we found an ants’ nest inside, and spent a little while watching them carrying eggs around (“Nah, I’ve seen ant eggs before, Mu-um,” “LARVAE, Mum, LARVAE,”) before emptying the soil out and replacing it with freshish compost. I think the ants will be able to rebuild their civilization in the old soil’s new location. Except for the ones which crawled onto us as we dig and met a sudden and untimely end.


went incredibly badly and I spent much of the day in other people’s foul tempers and some of it in my own. But towards the end, after I had read FOUR CHAPTERS of the scintillating intellectual treat that is £$%^& Noddy and eaten most of the chocolate cherry flan on my own because only one child wanted to help me, the 6yo started repairing a stool she picked up at the side of the road on Friday, and I forgave them almost everything.

I was glad to go stargazing though. A little enthusiasm after a day of negativity goes a long way.

And I have no idea at all what happened with the formatting for this post. Whu?

No dread today, only eagerness, and lots of enthusiasm when I asked them to demo how long they could balance on their balance bikes with their feet off the ground! (The answer is, long enough to start using pedals as soon as we put them on). They even SUGGESTED biking to the library, instead of walking.

Today we did minimal housework, ate lunch, went to the library, paid fines, got a couple of new books, made a note that Owen’s Animals are there on 30 June, got the bus to the hospital, went to a museum, walked halfway home, got a bus, came home, ate, did bedtime. It was, unlike most of my days recently, fine.

We nipped briefly in to the Museum of English Rural Life for maybe an hour today. I’ve lived here for ten years and we’d never been before, which is mad considering how very close to the hospital it is and how often we seem to be there, but today we were in Paediatric Audiology so that someone could look at the toddler’s tonsils, and when we came out there was the museum, just across the road. So in we went.

It was lovely. We’ll have to go back to do it properly, but there is lots of extra information attached to the displays, some dressing up clothes (we love the Roman clothes in the Silchester Gallery at Reading Museum), and 14 rats to find (we managed 8 between the three of us, today). There’s a working model of a threshing machine, which I enjoyed; they are major plot points in several books I can think of, from Laura Ingalls to Walter Macken. There are also several films to watch, which we might do next time.

There was even stuff in the shop the kids could afford – a Victorian girl paper doll with four outfits, and a pencil, and some Kendal Mint Cake.

Seven O, actually. Emer got interested and we chitted our seven seed potatoes today! They’re out in the mini greenhouse. With any luck we’ll have more compost ready to use by the time we want to actually plant them. I think we’ll only leave them out one week because it’s already two weeks late for planting them in actual dirt.

It’s practically summer. We ate lunch and dinner in the garden. And for the first time in two years, E (5yo) wasn’t interested in planting food this spring, so we haven’t done ANY before today.

Today I did it myself; I planted courgettes, parsley, radishes, chives, basil, leeks and cauliflowers, and discovered that the tomato, spinach and something else seeds have all gone missing. I’ll have to buy more, at some point.

The most difficult thing with gardening this year is going to be water. I was able to re-use a lot of last year’s compost, and we can refresh it with our own compost, so that was free and ethical. We can feed things with the disgusting smelly liquid from the bokashi bins. But watering will be tricky; we’re in drought and although the hosepipe ban isn’t here yet, it’s obviously not good to waste water just because it’s still legal.

The garden is lovely; the narcissi are out on one side, and red tulips all blowsy and poppy-like on the other, and I can see that it will all be luscious and full of food soon. We do need to get a wiggle on with the potatoes though. If the children are truly uninterested I’ll just have to do it myself but that feels wrong somehow; we got them free as an educational resource. I suppose they’ll learn what a potato is anyway.

The baby is using sentences and verbalising complex concepts.

We got our potato planting kit from The Potato Council today. It came in a little brown box which contained two bags of potatoes, an envelope of instructions, and a couple of grow bags.

Last year we ate well on them. Emer particularly loved chitting and planting. This year I expect we’ll do better with earthing up and so on. I’m really looking forward to it. For bonus points, the sunniest window is in the girls’ room this year, because we switched around, so they can check them a LOT. I might rig a high shelf halfway across, or something.

Not sure what else we’ll grow this year. Tomatoes, courgettes, potatoes, peas and beans? We don’t have a lot of space, and what we have is rather full of social things like a table and chairs, and toys.


I had to call a child in from the garden at eight o’clock this morning to put some trousers on. Snow is irresistible, apparently. Soon I’ll have to call (dressed) children in for lunch. I expect protests.

Inspired by Susie Derkins, they have made a snow woman. I’m glad they started so early because most of the snow has already melted away, and only where it has been gathered in lumps is it sticking around.

They’ve broken icicles from the outdoor tap, too.

We might have a look at Miss Frizzle’s snow episode (Weather, not snow) later, if I can find the DVD and remember which one it is. Tinderbox told us about The Magic School Bus and we really like them.

It’s here. Which is frankly weird, because it’s JANUARY, hello? But nonetheless…We had a busy morning, in that not very busy way; it was low key and unrushed, but people seemed to be getting a lot done.

Reading maths puzzle books. I like that they don’t need to be written in, so we can hand them on or lend them to others.
Using acrylic paint to colour air-drying clay. I have no idea what the shapes are supposed to represent.
Pick up that green shovel and DIG, woman!

So I pottered around the garden recording signs of spring.

No idea what’s going to surface here. Tulips and daffodils and crocuses and things. The thing is, it’s JANUARY and the place is bursting with little green shoots.
Fuzzy buds on the apple tree.
And on the fruit bushes. Fruit twigs, really.
JuniperJasmine berries. Wasn’t that a Body Shop fragrance?
I say again, January.



I think we’re going. I’m a bit scared of it, but it’s on clear public transport routes this time, so I think we’re going.If we aren’t, I’m sure we can do something with the tickets. Wall-mount them, possibly?

We went out today, on a train, only an hour late. It has been difficult to go out for ages now, so I was pleased we managed it. No-one had any kind of major meltdown, though because it was to a new place no-one was very sociable either. It won’t be new next time, so that’s ok.

And then we came home and Linnea started in on My Pals Are Here 1B (workbook part 2). She seems to be enjoying it.

On the way home from our trip out we saw a proper classic toadstool, with a hemispherical red top covered in little white spots. Sadly, my phone is dead and I forgot the old camera, so I took a very bad picture with my ancient phone and it’s not good enough to upload. But it was lovely to see anyway.

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