Posted tagged ‘homemadekids’

Ways to help boys enjoy craft

March 10, 2014

How do you encourage boys to do things like sewing, cooking, glueing and craft experimenting? A new book focuses on Boycraft in a bid to convince boys that craft is for anyone, even them. For more ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children follow this blog or get my book Homemade Kids, out of the library. This post is by Nicola Baird, also see

Do boys like craft? It’s a nonsense question isn’t it – most primary school boys I know have a stick in their hand, and their eyes on the hunt for any treasures the ground will yield up allowing them to make whatever they need (fort, weapon, power strobe, beastly bug etc).

At least they did until they were given a phone.

Boycraft by Sara Duchars & Sarah Marks (Frances Lincoln, £12.99)

Boycraft by Sara Duchars & Sarah Marks (Frances Lincoln, £12.99)

But for those families who can’t quite think how to get boys making things the new book Boycraft should be a winner.

Boycraft by craft specialists Sara Duchars and Sarah Marks is full of fabulous ideas for kids to make – such as giant bean bags (with tail), fantastic Halloween dress up outfits and papier mache Egyptian mummies (my favourite). The instructions are easy to follow and put together in a way that just makes you want to have a go.

Is a book for boys necessary?
At the after-school club my daughters went to, all the kids, boys and girls, used to do supervised craft. A couple of years after the youngest left I was back visiting and stunned to see that the girls were still making chatterboxes and doing craft, but the boys were queuing up to use the playstation. There was no way they wanted to do craft any more… It was a real loss for those boys who by making spiders from pipe cleaners, foil axes and wooden stilts are learning the skills for DIY, as well as having fun. A background in craft gives you the confidence to adapt things that don’t fit, or fix things that break – essential life lessons.

Giant medals made with a jam jar lid, ribbon, sellotape and a splash of decorative imagination. One of the great ideas in Boycraft.

Giant medals made with a jam jar lid, ribbon, sellotape and a splash of decorative imagination. One of the great ideas, in new book Boycraft, that would make a brilliant addition for a party bag.

At a packed medal-making event at the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green co-author Sarah Marks explained: “We don’t gender divide our craft at and a lot of people have said it’s bad to do the gender divide. But we felt we needed to give boys permission to do craft. It’s a shout out for them.”

Make craft easy to do by putting out the tools that are needed. Ideally only help when it's asked for... craft is all about learning from mistakes.

Make craft easy to do by putting out the tools that are needed. Ideally only help when it’s asked for… craft is all about learning from mistakes.

While my 13-year-old, Nell, made a couple of medals I discovered we were sitting next to Sarah’s youngest, 10-year-old, Oliver, who was busily making a mini cityscape from 3D paper folds…. “We’re always doing craft at home,” he told me reaching for the sharper scissors. With some relief he also added: “I don’t have to make all my presents at Christmas…”

Take home message
Seems like Oliver’s mum Sarah has got it right:

1) Do lots of craft with your kids, because it’s normal and fun. It’s also often a way for a child to get something cheaply, within about half an hour (or less if you are making a medal).
2) But never force kids to do craft because it’s what they should be doing... especially in the high-pressured run-up to Christmas.

Making the occasional gift a child knows right from the start is destined for someone else is a real learning curve for all children. It’s lovely for them to be gift-givers – Nell even made me a medal at this event!

So families with boys, maybe have a flick through Boycraft if you see a copy – I’d be amazed if it doesn’t inspire you to either get creating, or get your hands on your own book.

Over to you
What ideas do you have for getting kids to do craft, or do you have any really good tips on where to find ideas for things kids can make?

Museum of Childhood in east London is open 10am-5.45pm daily.

You can buy Boycraft from Amazon, here’s the link.

How to help your kids have a go at things that frighten you

June 20, 2013

Here are some tactics to help you let your child have a go at life. For more ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children see or

On top, behind and going over a waterfall. Parents either look away or check it's safe before they jump.

On top, behind and going over a waterfall. Parents either look away or check it’s safe before they jump.

On a bridge I sometimes cross with my dog or child (or both) there’s some new graffiti. It says: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

I don’t feel very nervy about life, but I reckon a fearless me would:

Climb up the Shard! Go wild swimming! Remonstrate with anyone who won’t clear up their dog poo! Take walks between midnight and dawn! Walk the beam at my aunt’s house that’s at ceiling height over a stone floor…

It’s a daft list – because anyone could live without needing to do any of these things.  However if I was living in Brazil or Turkey now (despite the right political instincts) I do wonder if I’d be brave enough to be out on the street protesting?  Worse I reckon I’d use my kids as an excuse, like this, “I can’t campaign for civil liberties… because I need to look after my family,” knowing it was a transparent lie.

Parents are often frightened for their children – fortunately in the UK this is often for no good reason. But those parental fears mean that modern kids have a very short leash in case they are run over, abducted or mix with the wrong people.

In a bid to try and get over all those grown up fears  it’s worth setting your kids challenges that help them develop the instincts, skills and resilience to deal with your fears.  It’s very popular these days to write a bucket list (eg, the 10 things you want to do before you die say, or perhaps more usefully the 10 things you want to to do before the end of the summer…). With the school holidays fast approaching consider writing a list of things to do that help tackle the real, and the unfounded, fears. I think mine might be something like this…

For toddlers

  • Dealing with choking or other accidents
    Teach the difference between no (it’s annoying but not life threatening if you don’t stop what you are doing) and STOP (must be obeyed – eg, by a road, if about to hit another child with a heavy object..) And an idea for mums and dads – get your mates together and do a First Aid course with a focus on babies. That way if your child chokes on a carrot you can sort it out.

For primary school

  • Dealing with fears about drowning on a school trip/family holiday/friend’s party
    Challenge: Teach your child to swim – this may mean taking swimming lessons. At the very least teach water safety so they know not to run by pools & know that if they did fall in they should grab an object to help them float. They also need to know about staying away from ice.
  • Dealing with bigger kids (possibly bullying your tot)
    Challenge: Act out what might happen at home and then talk through solutions. Primary schools ought to have a be friendly (anti bullying policy) so ask the school office what they teach the children – you can then follow a similar approach.

For the Year 5-8 (age 10-13)

  • Dealing with fears of traffic
    Challenge: Go on a bike ride (teach some cycle safety & check she knows how to pump up tyres/mend punctures etc)
  • Dealing with fears about food/healthy eating/nutrition
    Challenge: Make cooking inspiring (get a friend/s to come round and see if they can create a whole show-off meal from scratch including the shopping, cooking and eating)

For the Year 9-11 (age 13-16)

  • Dealing with stranger danger/personal safety/sexual attack
    Challenge: See if your child can travel longer distances on their own (keep checking she knows about the A-Z, maps, GPS, timetables, safety when travelling)
  • Dealing with fears about spoilt child syndrome
    Challenge: Work out how self-sufficient she is (eg, with homey tasks – like dealing with laundry; locking up; making picnic lunch, flask of tea). This would be a lot more fun if I could just give her an animal to take 100 per cent care of for a while (go see War Horse the musical to see what I mean).
  • Dealing with worries about drugs and drink (and sex)
    Challenge: Let her do roughly what she wants to do but aim to answer questions, avoid making any conversation taboo, discuss news horror stories – people’s state of mind, how to avoid the situation, what would you do in that situation etc. Maybe offer books, share information etc. A really good website about drugs can be found at Frank.

Over to you
Do let me know what freaks you out about your children growing up and how you’ve tried assuaging those fears. Thanks. Nicola

10 ways to entertain boys

April 8, 2013

Families with more than one child of the same gender have it easy – and I know because I have two girls.  It’s easy when girls/boys are small to share clothes, toys, books, interests even identify the same school. But those with all girls – or those with all boys – are bound to have to entertain the other gender. Here’s the tips I find work when younger boys come round…For more ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children see, or

Find, catch, show off and return gently to the water where you found your common newt.

Find, catch, show off and return gently to the water where you found your common newt.

1 Provide a challenge
Years ago children spent far more time outside, and I think kids like the experience of being out, so get outside. Our very small garden pond is a great habitat for newts – I’ve yet to meet a boy visitor who hasn’t liked fishing them out, showing them off in a container or identifying which type of newt they are.

Souped up boat.

Souped up boat.

2 Organise a building competition – indoors or out
Am I being a tad predictable here if I suggest making a sportscar or palace out of Lego, or a pile of slightly random objects (mostly containing toilet roll inners and sellotape)?

Xander carving a dagger with a pen knife.

Xander carving a dagger with a pen knife.

3 Go hunt a stick
What can’t you do with a stick? Sticks win and can put zest into anyone flagging. Find them, hide them, use them as turbo-charged space ships, conduct an orchestra, point at the sky and fly those planes. Don’t be surprised if sticks transform themselves into lightsabres or power pistols.

Heard the one about the boy who made a den?

Heard the one about the boy who made a den?

4 Tell a story as you walk
Great approach with younger, tired children. Start telling the Gruffalo story and see if walking like the mouse, or Gruffalo, gets you nearer your target. We’re going on a Bear Hunt is a goodie too. Slightly older children can try suggesting more imaginative ways to walk, eg, like Superman/hedgehog/one legged bandit/wallaby.

Please sir, can I have more?

Please sir, can I have more?

5 Keep on offering food
Not treats, proper energy-giving food. When it’s cold hot chocolate in a flask is a treat. Try accompanying with hot cross buns and a piece of fruit. Get in the habit of bringing a bottle of tap water wherever you go to keep your walkabout  costs down. Or just go to that cafe – at least you’ll warm up and have an easy toilet break.

3 oldie parents plus a 17yo, 13yo, 12yo, 10yo, three dogs and a pony go wild in the countryside...

3 oldie parents plus boys of 17 and 13 and girls of 12yo, 10yo, three dogs and a pony go wild in the countryside…

6 Keep dogs out of the way – or go for a walk together
I know boys get on fine with dogs, but many urban children are often very unused to pets; ditto pets to kids. If your rooms are small it’s actually quite hard for the child and dog not to eyeball each other without animosity, especially if food is involved.

Prepare postcards and send them from every red postbox your find.

Prepare postcards and send them from every red postbox your find.

7 Dream up a treasure hunt
If interest is waning you can dream up a list of 10 things to find pretty much wherever you are. Actually this is fun to do even if people’s spirits aren’t flagging. With a 12 yo girl and 11 yo boy on a walk by the Thames/enclave of shops I suggested finding a clay pipe (took a while); plus a can of drink, bowl with a fish design, rocking horse and hair band. I thought it would take ages – but they’d done it in less than 2 minutes so make the challenges tough. No prizes necessary – it’s all about the hunt.

8 Let them fight
Kids fight, it helps them negotiate their way out of the situation. Ideally only step in if the conflict is getting dangerous.

I remember begging to sit in the middle seat in the back of my dad’s car so I could enjoy the squabbles with my brother and sister. If it’d been me parenting me, I might still let those backseat squabbles happen, but if the shrieks got annoying time honoured distractions should get children looking out of the window (not at a screen). Singing along is good; pub cricket (pitching left side of the road against right in the mathematical challenge of working it which side of the road has pubs with the most legs in them. So The White Hart gets 4 points; The Poacher 2. The King’s Head (or a non-leg sign like The Bell) earns 1 point. Or hand over a map and let the kids navigate.

9 Distraction/separation


Work on those ball skills.

Use this before or after those fight break out. If you’ve got two adults divide the warring parties and go do something different, separately. If you’ve got more than one room, use them. Fights tend to be provoked by feelings of injustice – not to mention being hungry, tired or bored.  Can you run/schlep to the shops to buy a healthy snack with the kids? I’ve got one friend who lived miles from a shop, but she set up a little play shop down the lane where she lived. Go there and get trading (I’ll have one elephant with a blue ear, some tea bags and a cheese roll please).

Kids on the street

March 20, 2013

About 100,000 kids a year go missing. What can you do about runaway children? And what if your child went missing? Plus a detour to No 10 Downing Street thanks to Mumsnet. For more ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children see, or

Synchronicity perhaps, but over the past three days what to do about missing children has been top most in my thoughts. Even the first item I heard on Radio 4’s Today programme was the follow up to the Rochdale case in 2012 when nine men were jailed for sexually abusing five girls – who had a track record of “going missing”. Turns out police have changed the way they plan to work, see here. Instead of turning up when a child misses a curfew at a children’s home they are only going to turn up when a proper missing child is reported…

So what’s a proper missing child? Given that every 5 minutes a child runs away from home?


“If you feel like you’re on your own and there’s no one you can talk to pick up the phone and call Baranardo’s Miss U London, New Horizon Youth Centre, Runaway Helpline, Childline” – is the message on a card that can be used to wind your headphones around.

At a recent school governors’ meeting we discussed one year group with 93% attendance this half of spring term. This means you know some students aren’t at school, and you know who they are. But do you know where they are? Or why they are where they are? And do their families? And is the school – and their families – doing enough to stop a naughty truant turning into a child at risk?

Fast forward to a room of Mumsnet bloggers at the grand Royal Horseguards Hotel being addressed by Andy McCullough, 45, from the Railway Children.

Tattooed Andy looks the sort of man that really does have a 22-year-old who tells his dad to turn the music down.

nb-railway“One in nine children runs away,” said McCullough (left) who grew up in care and says he went missing a lot of times. He uses this experience plus 28 years working in social – and bucketloads of wit – to speak about how to help runaway children. “We did a survey and were shocked parents hadn’t talked to kids about this. There are horrible things out there and if we are shy about it with our kids young people don’t get to know. They feel going missing is getting away from it.”

Young people aren’t always safe outside on their own, but the alternative: claustrophobia at home – and in some cases emotional and physical bossing that they have to face from their family – is likely to mean some go missing. Going missing is when you start being at risk in another way, being befriended by people who have no intention of being kind. I read example after example in the newspapers of girls who’ve been groomed for sexual exploitation. And then there’s the drugs. Andy McCullough pointed out that in Britain the nights are long, cold and often wet that’s why the runaways take drugs.

What next?

Mumsnet hopes families will start talking more about the problems. To kickstart the conversations they teamed up with Aviva (insurance/pension company) in the autumn to fundraise for Railway Children, and have already raised £72,000.

Now it’s all about spreading the word. For 20 mumsnetters that meant meeting frontline workers – and then nibbles and wine at Number 10 Downing Street with Samantha Cameron. What a treat to visit such an historic building – built in the 1600s with floor space modelled on Dr Who’s Tardis.

(Let’s not say anything about how her husband’s ridiculous bedroom tax is going to mess up life for so many families. Or how women are the ones increasingly disenchanted by Tories – at least that’s my guess since being handed a pamphlet for 1000 Mothers March For Justice to protest against cuts, caps, hunger, evictions and fear that hurt us and our children due to be held in Tottenham on 13 April 2013 at 11am.)

I think the red carpet was for the President of Malawi, No 10's earlier visitor.

The red carpet was for the President of Malawi, No 10’s earlier visitor.


Eyes shut and wishing – just about to go into Downing Street, so hoping that the Greens were a massive party or the people in power were greener…

Sam Cam loves the Railway Children, called it a “fantastic charity” and quite rightly the trustees beamed. I also met some Barnado’s workers who run school assemblies about the tricky situations children have to face in addition to school life, exams and dating. The list of challenges includes domestic violence, having to care for/avoid a mum or dad with mental health problems, a sibling hooked on drugs or alcohol.

And then today my favourite blog publishes a photo essay by Phil Maxwell of kids on the street, see here. I look at the pix – one of just kids on playground swings looking at a line of police in riot uniform, another just a toddler heading out of the door, others of small gangs of children roaming and try and reconcile all that I’ve learnt.

In my book Homemade Kids most of the 100 families who are bringing their kids up in a thrifty, creative and eco-friendly way see being outside as one of the big cure-alls. They want to see kids playing on the streets (and cars going slower, or not there at all). But the book focussed on younger children – a stage when adult carers do direct their kids much more.

That said many people are not kind to children and by the time they are teens they’re positively horrible – albeit not necessarily using or abusing them. Ensuring there is nowhere for groups to hang out together and constantly shooing teens away (eg, ever seen a shop sign that says no more than 2 school children?) is surely pushing children and teens straight towards the seemingly friendly bloke at the bus stop who is as the old stories put it, “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”.

Pity the kids, and those of us adults who are a real friendly person at the bus stop.


In a recent survey, one in 11 teenagers aged 14 to 16 admitted to having run away overnight at some stage in their life

It’s impossible to know the true scale of the problem: two-thirds of runaways aren’t reported as missing to the police, and many are too vulnerable or scared to seek official help

It’s estimated 2000 children will run away over Christmas.

Another post on this topic by me – runaway thoughts – is here.

Over to you

Staying out all night is not a Duke of Edinburgh challenge… do you think your kids know how to be safe? What about their friends? The twitter handle for Railway Children is @RailwayChildren and please use #runningaway or have a look at  PS – adding a comment means Aviva gives a DONATION to Railway Children, or RT if that’s more your thing. Thanks.

What makes you happy?

March 17, 2013

I always felt that singing “we’re a happy family” was tempting fate. But stumbled across the Simple Woman’s Daybook  – loads of posts where mums focus on the calms and pleasures of life and felt it might be another way to approach what my hopefully ok week will be like. I recommend having a go to anyone who loves blogging but sometimes feels they’d like a change of pace, especially if you’ve been busy with family (we spent saturday on a protest march to try and keep the local hospital open – it rained for most of this event). Service will be resumed as normal in the next post, ie, thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children at Post by nicola baird.

Singing in the rain room (an art installation where you get to control the flow, can't do that outside).

Singing in the rain room (an art installation where you get to control the flow, can’t do that outside).


Outside my window…it’s 9.30pm and dark so I can’t see anything, but I can hear St Patrick’s day festivities and Irish music at the local pub.
I am thinking…about how different it is after the rain – puddles are muddy, birds sing louder and the world looks better, but inside the house smells of wet dog – even if you don’t have a dog. And the floor space shrinks because it is taken over by drying umbrellas/shoes/wellies.
I am thankful...that my kids don’t go to boarding school! I’d miss them so much.
In the kitchen...lots of washing up after some experiments with cheeseless pizza and hot cross buns done with my daughters. Today i found out baking was simple and you can do it without any special equipment.I am wearing...the usual super-warm winter weather uniform – including the ethnic, cosy waistcoat that I bizarrely wore on my first date with my now husband Pete. He didn’t much like it then. 20 years on he’s grown to love it, not.I am creating…a quilt (using big pieces of material which i sew together on the hand-turn singer machine my great granny gave to my mum for her 21st). Hope to finish it ready for a visitor on thursday.I am a zillion barbed-wire diary work-play events this week. School governor duty on Monday, blogging treat on tuesday, Quasimodo on wednesday, riding teaching on thursday – clearly it’s going to be a crash out friday.
I am wondering...about why I didn’t give any money to Comic Relief. Such a good collection of projects.I am reading...between books but can recommend The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. Have been trying to read books from all around the world, see this most recent review of novels from the Pacific edge here.I am hoping...i can find a good Somali contact for interviewing on http://islingtonfacesblog.comI am looking forward birthday on Saturday. Love the number 23 (date, not age).I am learning...that this might be something i should work on.Around the house…spring light reveals far too much dust. anyone else noticed more cobwebs than usual?I am pondering…if giving up sugar, meat and gluten leaves you anything to eat? I haven’t done this yet but live in fear that someone medical will one day insist i cease eating bread. Aghhhhhh.A favorite quote for today…”Always look on the bright side.”One of my favorite things…home – strange seeing as I like travelling just about as much too, just I do less of it.A few plans for the rest of the week...Seeing my oldest sing on tuesday and my youngest skate next Sunday. If there is time to watch MadMen from a borrowed box set how happy would I be.

A peek into my day… probably shrank as outside for a lot of it in the rain – went on a history walk at the local nature park  with my 14 year old and took the dog for a walk. Nell, 12 went with Pete to see the movie Lincoln. Excellent way to do some history homeschooling.

Over to you
Have a go doing this yourself – just copy the headings and paste the url to

Why’s there so much asthma?

January 17, 2013

This blog post is by Nicola Baird and her daughter Nell. It’s all about their dream to breathe in healthy air. Nicola writes a once-a-week blog about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children see She has also written a parenting book, see  Homemade Kids. More info at

Nell sweeping the ground with a stick. For fun!

Nell sweeping the ground with a stick. For fun!

My youngest daughter Nell, 11, has been in hospital twice after her asthma got out of control when she was just 4 and again at 10. Without medication she would have died. Nowadays she takes a preventer puff of steroid twice a day, and when necessary will also take a puff from the blue reliever. She is surprisingly cheery about this, as you can see in this one minute video 

More than 1.1 million kids have asthma in the UK. No one knows why it’s become a national epidemic… but air pollution doesn’t help. The links between fossil fuels and climate change are well known – burning carbon (eg, in gas for central heating or to heat water; or when you drive a car) adds carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Driving adds other nasties too, including air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sooty particulates.

Not so lovely London
London’s air pollution is hideous. Levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) on some of London’s busiest roads are currently over three times the legal limit. Given that, perhaps it is no surprise that the poorer you are in London the more likely you are to live by a massive road, and the more likely you are to die younger.

In December 2012 London Assembly’s health and environment committee pointed out that the long-term health impact of exposure to toxic air pollutants lead to life-shortening lung and heart conditions.

Right now there are more than 4,000 extra deaths each year in London from dirty air (particulates). This costs the economy a staggering £20 billion a year – twice the cost of obesity. Nell lives in Islington where about one in 15 deaths each year  (7.9 per cent) are “attributable to long-term exposure to current levels of anthropogenic particulate air pollution”. Yuck.

Don’t misunderstand: these statistics are not a reason for the lucky families who can buy or rent wherever they choose to escape to the country. They are a reason to ensure every child can breathe healthy air, wherever they live.

Clean up time
Air’s kind of invisible so it looks clean. But blow your nose at Holloway tube by the A1 and inspect the grimy contents or try taking a walk in white coat and gloves (ha ha!) and you’ll see evidence of some gruesome grime. Or just go talk to an asthmatic – anyone with lung disease actually.

Nell cleans up the pavement.

Nell cleans up the pavement.

“I can breathe. Right now I mean,” says Nell. “But I remember how I felt in hospital. Not being able to breathe feels tiring. You want to lie down. You’re all wheezy. And it’s hard to talk.”

When there’s a crisis families are too busy coping to be able to speak out. Nell and I worked on this blog post together when things are calm on the health front in a bid to get more families – from Mumsnet and other blog readers – to do something to tackle air pollution in 2013, the Year of Air. Here’s hoping you can help.

Here’s how to help

  • When you drive always turn off your engine if you are stationary or stuck in a traffic jam
  • Choose petrol over diesel
  • Avoid using your car as a shopping trolley. You could use a buggy, cycle paniers, a granny trolley (rebranded in our home as a “warrior trolley” so Dad doesn’t mind taking a spin to the shops) or opt for a supermarket home delivery.
  • Choose schools that are close to your home so the school run can be easily walked.
  • Sign up to the soon to get going Healthy Air Campaign to voice your support for government  action on air pollution. Some things can only really be effective if we do them together…

5 reasons to enjoy rain

January 15, 2013

This post offers good reasons to enjoy the rain. For more info about my book Homemade Kids, with lots of ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children click here or follow this blog.

Singing in the rain room (an art installation where you get to control the flow).

Singing in the rain room (an art installation where you get to control the flow).

1 It makes you sing. From Here comes the rain again to Singing in the Rain there are zillions of classics that make the best of the weather.

2 You miss the rain like an old friend. A friend born in India says his first memory is of the monsoon – how all the kids ran into the street and jumped around screaming with joy when the big rains came. Nell, 11 and Lola, 14, agree – they were willing to queue for two hours at the Barbican to experience Random International’s rain room at the Barbican ( cost free, dates 4 Oct 2012 – 3 Mar 2013). Once in the downpour (like a giant shower except that you control the rain so wherever you walk you don’t get wet) it was amazing to see how everyone reacted with childlike excitement. They smiled, kissed, tried to do little gigs (and sometimes slipped over which made everyone else giggle). Lola whirled around – a dry whirling dervish. In contrast Nell ran trying to defy control and was rewarded by getting very wet.

3 Splashing in puddles is a favourite activity for little people. Let them do it, let them get wet and then change their clothes if you need to do so. Or just organise decent fitting waterproofs to start with.

4 It’s your private orchestra. Try listening under a bus shelter, tent awning, skylight roof and see what you hear. You’ll soon be launching into songs from Les Miserables. “Can you hear the people sing…”

5 It’s life affirming. Rain causes floods, it washes away. It drowns. But in the end it’s life affirming. After the flood there’s the rainbow… even on a saturated farm with 600ha of flooded potato crop.

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