Friday, October 21, 2016

The Autumn Garden...

and a few ponderous thoughts...

 Well so far autumn has been lovely - it is getting rather cold now (I have had my central heating on a few times already!) but not much rain. How lovely is that?! Although we have only been in Devon for a year, last autumn and winter were horribly wet. I'd far rather have freezing cold temperatures but clear sunny skies.

This past weekend we had a family gardening day. We emptied out the veggie beds, cut back the hedges and bay tree, swept up all the leaves - although you wouldn't say so from this picture. But tis' the season for endless falling leaves I guess.

Plants that were in pots were planted out, or popped onto the compost heap if they were spent and the empty pots packed away. 

I've kind of been in a reflective mood since then. I mean, the garden is lovely isn't it? So pretty and well structured (nothing to do with me btw), but I just have not fallen in love with it. It's been more than a year since we moved to Devon and although it is super pretty it just has not felt like home.

I have to say that for months this has bothered me. I've tried so hard to love it. Waited for that feeling of peace and content to invade my soul - the way I felt in Chesterfield. But...nothing. I've grappled with guilt because of these feelings. Tried and tried to 'settle',

Even our lovely home, it's so pretty, so beautifully decorated by the owners, but it's not my less than perfectly appointed home in Chesterfield with it's simple conservatory and sweeping views of the Derbyshire countryside.

Isn't it so strange that a place can so completely have your heart? That a place can either give you a sense of peace, well-being and comfort or make you feel like an alien. I've never had that before. I mean, people have composed songs and written poetry of such things. The song 'Mull of Kintyre' immediately springs to mind in this regard. I kind of always thought that perhaps such things were a bit naff, but I have to admit that I was wrong. I get it now.

Now although I live in England, adore the country and love my English friends very much, one thing I don't share is the English ability to 'Keep Calm and Carry On' indefinitely LOL. I cannot accept that this is where I will live for the rest of my life. Retire here? Oh no! That does not sound like a great option to me at all.

I think my husband was surprised when I eventually voiced my concerns to him. Turns out that he hasn't been exactly enthralled with our move either. Of course we have since had lots of discussions and have been discussing plans for our future. We are committed here for another two years for various reasons but the plan is to go back to our beloved Chesterfield after that and hopefully realise a long time dream of opening our very own business. The thought makes me so h-a-p-p-y :)

Anyhoo...I'll stop with the ponderous thoughts.  I have to say that I am loving autumn so far! the falling leaves, the dipping temperatures and the lack of rain LOL - perfect. One of the (many) things I love about this time of year is that with the dropping temperatures my knitting mojo seems to return :D - I am busy with a pair of socks at the moment, one down another already on the go and lots more projects in the pipes. I'll be sure to share some of those projects next week sometime. 

Do you find that you drift in and out of crafting moods? Sometimes knitting is it, then that fades and it's cross-stitching ;) I always admire those people who are so focused on one craft and seem to have endless patience and inspiration for it. OK - I'm going to end this post here, it feels like it's getting a bit rambley LOL. 

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend and hope to see you back here soon...

Thursday, October 20, 2016

OHC - Fungi

Nature Study seems to have taken a bit of a back seat in our homeschool.. This makes me sad as it was something that we did each Friday. I recently sat down to have a think about this and after much pondering realized that just like the seasons so is life. It's changeable - always fluid. So although nature study has taken a back seat over the passed 12 months I have decided that it's time for us to gently bring it back and reinstate it to it's regular Friday slot in our learning.

Now one of the problems that I have is that my youngest daughter is not, nor has she ever been, terribly 'into' nature study. But it's one of those things that I feel is important for us and for our learning, even if it is only to get out together and enjoy a walk.

Our first nature walk of the season was to be a fungi walk. While this was not one of the official challenges in this months OHC newsletter, I wanted our time outdoors to be enjoyable to my daughter without the pressure of any 'teachy' moments which I sometimes feel she bulks at. I drew on the OHC archives for our challenge this week.

I printed off a few Fungi ID sheets from Nature Detectives and laminated them - although this was a cute idea these turned out to be completely useless as we found none of fungi on the ID sheets in our woodland but plenty of others, so I'm glad I took along our field guide too.

I started off our OHC time with a bit of a sneaky way to hook my daughters attention, some fascinating YouTube videos on forest floor fungi. It worked! She loved the time-lapse videos.

After watching these two videos we armed ourselves with a camera and walked to our local woodland. We decided to see who could spot the most mushrooms - I have to say that I lost miserably, my daughter has really sharp eyes and a knack for finding fungi it seems:)

As we walked along the path I asked her to tell me as much as she could remember about fungi - as it so happens she remembers quite a bit from previous OH challenges so this was a great way to review what she already knew.

We managed to find some bracket fungi

As well as a good deal of species that we just could not identify. I tell you, as we looked through the pages of our field guide the differences between edible and highly poisonous mushrooms can be barley distinguishable. It really brought home how careful you need to be in this area and that if you want to forage for mushrooms you really should go with someone who knows what they are doing.

We found this mushroom (above) happily growing out of the bark on this very healthy tree (below)...

Looking at all the varieties we found (and I'm not showing you every single picture - there were just too many) I was quite enthralled by them. They seem to have such a mystical quality about them and I can see why the feature so strongly in fairy tales :)

Sadly we didn't see any Fly Agaric which are my favorite mushrooms (although highly poisonous), but in paging through our field guide I was able to identify the 'Dead Mans Fingers' fungi that we found on a walk a few years back that I couldn't identify at the time. 

I didn't ask my daughter to create a journal entry for this walk, I suggested that perhaps she could print off some of the pictures and stick them in her journal - this appealed to her more. I know that Charlotte Mason was quite adamant about keeping a  nature journal but Anna Botsford Comstock did not believe that a child should be forced to do so. I'm hoping that I can encourage my daughter to work in her journal by example when she sees me working in mine. For now I am content with just being outdoors with her, enjoying nature and conversation ;)

This post will be submitted to OHC blog carnival. If you have any OHC nature blog posts why not send them to Barb at - The deadline for the first quarters carnival is 26 October so hurry and share your nature walk posts.