Flying man

The old Rule of Three myth worked out well for us. Finch bumped his head again this week and for the fourth time a giant egg swelled on his forehead. It was in the same spot as the very first, so maybe that does still count as three. Anyway, that should definitely be it for now. How did you get on with Storm Gareth? A bit blowy wasn’t it? A fence panel blew down in my parents garden so my dad decided there was no time like the present to fix it. Now being still in the middle of gale force winds. Off he went to the garden centre up the road and selected his panel. Would it fit in the car? Oh no. What does dad decide to do? Carry it home.

There is a steep hill in the town where my parents live. The garden centre is at the top, and it goes right down from there, through the town and down to the sea. On a clear day you can see Torquay. Off dad went, out of the garden centre and onto the hill. And behind him, giving him a nice little shove, came Storm Gareth. Then it gave him a bigger shove, and a bigger one, and dad felt the fence panel lifting. It’ll be fine, he told himself, but then he felt the panel take off, and it was all he could do to not take off himself. He was pretty sure he would have been over in Torquay within the hour, or worse might have been blown askance and ended up in Paignton (no one wants to end up in Paignton). Wisely he put the panel down and got it delivered.

Here’s my little character for the KidLit4Climate campaign last week. Children’s authors and illustrators all over the world gathered together to organise an illustrated protest in solidarity with the children and young people’s strike on Friday. We went along with Wren and her tiny banner to the march held here in Exeter. It’s impossible to be involved with children either through work, or because you have children and grandchildren and not be concerned about the environment. From climate change through to biodiversity collapse (7 out of 10 species in the UK facing extinction according to the Wildlife Trusts), and oceans full of plastic, it’s not a good picture. It’s hard to get your head around the evidence for all this if you haven’t been trained to read primary research, and even then, how many of us have access to peer-reviewed journals? I find Inside Science useful on Radio 4. Adam Rutherford can veer off into having a partisan edge to his questioning but I love being able to hear directly from researchers themselves and make up my own mind. There was a great one the other week looking at why methane levels (one of the greenhouse gases) have increased in a way few had predicted (it involves swamps). I look at little Wren, currently busy trying to master potty-training, and hope with all my being that we can find the solutions to make the change we need.

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Early tomatoes going in!

The rain is pouring from the sky in torrents. On the allotment I lost a compost bin lid and the downpipe on my shed to the wind, but thankfully the greenhouse has come through with no ill-effects. Upstairs Finch is asleep in our bed. He knocked himself out cold at school last week in a collision with a child on a scooter. His teacher described the scene turning to slow motion as she ran towards the crash site and saw him briefly go airborne. I was called away from my placement to collect him, a bump of Easter egg proportions bulging from his forehead. He recovered no thanks to my regular neuro obs, pen-torch in hand to check his pupils were equal and reacting to light. Then on Saturday the wind smashed the garden gate shut on his thumb leaving him with a mighty blood blister under his nail. It perfectly matched one my dear old dad had. When we suggested they were thumb twins Finch fixed me with a firm look and explained patiently that it was not possible they could be twins because twins are people who are born at the same time. That told me! Then this morning he managed to fall off his chair backwards while eating his breakfast. Another egg bulged, this time from the back of his head, and only of crème egg proportions. I try not to think about all the things I’ve read about the long-term effects of concussion and have kept him off for the morning. We watch the rain tracking down the windowpanes and decide that these things always come in threes so he should be accident free for the next little while…!

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Every by Wendy Cope

Every by Wendy Cope

Wren turned three at the weekend. I have been packing away her old clothes into bags to be passed onto my niece but goodness, I did feel funny about it. With each passing year the clothes get bigger and she’s not a baby anymore. With my last child a phase of my life is passing away. I happened to read this poem by Wendy Cope this week and I thought, yes that’s it. Even though life can feel like it’s flying by, it’s about treasuring each and every moment, even packing up the baby clothes.

You’ll be pleased to know I finished my essay and we also bought a peach tree last week. It’s an espalier and we hope to grow it up the garden wall. The wall is south-facing so you never know, we might actually get some peaches. Potatoes are chitting on the windowsill but I am resisting the urge to plant seeds. Just a couple more weeks…

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I am buried under a giant pile of research studies, edging my way by degrees towards the conclusion of an essay for my course. If I don’t emerge to write a blog post next week, send help!

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Snowdrop valley

It is half term and the kids were ready for it. In fact, Finch was ready for it last Tuesday when he fell asleep in his dinner at tea time. I am always amazed at the way little children can be in full action mode one minute, and dead to the world the next. Although, I say little children, my mother can give Finch a run for his money. She has been known to fall asleep sat bolt upright in the middle of a folk concert. On Saturday we headed up to Exmoor, to a hidden valley well-known for its abundance of snowdrops. We clambered down deep mossy paths to the valley where monks from Dunster abbey are said to have planted the snowdrops to celebrate Candlemas. Rivers of white droplets covered the ground. I have never seen so many in one place. High in the trees, over the sound of the rushing stream, the birds sang. We were lucky, a passing walker told us, we had caught them just right. He had been many a year only to be too early or to have missed the flowers altogether. As I scraped the ice away from the windscreen this morning, I paused and listened to the birds singing. The sun was just coming up over the roof tops and I smiled to myself at the remembrance of all those snowdrops glistening on the woodland floor.

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Oh the joys! Diabetic feet! Here I am, attending a study evening for community nurses about diabetic foot ulcers. It was both gruesome and fascinating. The essential thing I took away is that if I ever develop diabetes I am never, ever wearing flip-flops. I’ll leave you to imagine the worst. Tomorrow is a day of Law and Ethics down at Plymouth University. As a reward I shall treat myself to a full hour’s day dream in either direction. The train takes the old Brunel line along the coast through Dawlish. And yes, that will be the one that collapsed into the sea the other year. This is the view from the murky train window…

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There was much cackling and hooting coming from Little Owl’s bedroom the other morning. I heard Little Owl shout, “Look how fluffy I made her hair!” This was followed by shrieks of laughter. Then I heard Finch say, “Let’s see how fluffy we can make it!” What on earth was going on in there?

A little while later Wren tottered out of Little Owl’s bedroom looking like she had put her finger in a socket. She has corkscrew curly, white-blond hair at the best of times but she would have given Einstein a run for his money that morning. And there was no time to do anything about it. Off she went to nursery looking like a walking dandelion clock. Of course the older two thought this was hysterical and were mightily pleased with themselves.

Did you survive the snow? We only had a smattering. I have to say I was relieved. Memories of last year’s escapades in the snow when we only had half a roof on are still strong in my mind. Wren did her best to make footstep trails in what we had, but it had all gone by the time the older two got home from school.

My nursing course continues apace this week and the next instalment of edits for my Kelpies novel arrived on Friday. My brain is a big old whirlwind of wound dressings, witches, pressure relieving aids, and flying bicycles. I hope everything comes out again in the right order.

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Stars and snow

We dodged gritter lorries on our way home from Brownies this evening. In the icy darkness we counted the stars and pointed out Orion’s belt. The radio news reports are full of snow in Scotland and the North of England. On my placement today, one of my patients told me about the foxes that visit her garden. There is a whole family of them. She is housebound and watching them play gives her a great deal of joy. I told her about the fox I came across on my early morning bike ride yesterday. My bike lights reflected in its eyes before it whisked off into the undergrowth, leaving me with only a fleeting impression of pointy ears and a bushy tail. My route was strewn with branches from the gale at the weekend. And didn’t it blow? We braved a walk across muddy fields with the children, wrapped up in hats and gloves. The wind whipped our words out of our mouths almost before we had said them. We opted for a necessary detour to a pub with a roaring fire where we warmed our chapped cheeks and chilled fingers. What did I tell you? Far too soon to be getting excited about green, growing things!

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Dreams of seeds

It has been a week of bright wintery mornings here; beautiful golden sunrises through a fretwork of bare tree branches. My breath comes out in billowy clouds as I clear the windscreen and set off to join my nursing mentor on her rounds. A welcome pile of seed catalogues came thumping through our letterbox last week. I grasped them eagerly, going through the listings, dreaming of warm, summer days and a greenhouse full of plump red tomatoes. It is amazing how optimistic I can feel about my green-fingered abilities in the depths of winter. Anything is possible! Gradually I got myself in check and winnowed my list of seed packet purchases down to a more realistic number. I dug up the last of the celeriac at the allotment this week and weeded the strawberry patch. The green spears of spring bulbs are shooting up through the dark, damp earth. The air was full of birdsong. It was lovely to tramp about in the fresh air, feeling the promise of a new season in every bit of green. But I am getting ahead of myself! It is still January.

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How it went!

So how did it go? Really well, I think (I’ve just started a Return to Practice Nursing course in case you’re wondering what I’m talking about. Read about why I’m doing it here). I can’t tell you how nervous I was. I woke up almost every hour, on the hour, the night before. My brain kept telling me, ‘get up, you’re going to be late!’ Well, there was no risk of being late at 3 o’clock in the morning. You should have seen my hand shaking when I did my first blood pressure! There’s a lot to take in and I was on my chinstrap when I came in from my first day on placement. But I loved getting out and about, visiting patients. The team I am with are super lovely. Onwards and upwards!

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