Posted tagged ‘rain’

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
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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.

What do you play in the woods?

May 9, 2010


This book is published on 1 July 2010

Do you play with your kids in the woods? For the past two months I’ve had the first Saturday after the General Election barbed wire for a special treat for my family

, writes Nicola Baird, author of the soon-to-be-published book, Homemade Kids: thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children.


I wanted to take my daughters to see huge swathes of bluebells and reckoned the place to go was woods where coppicing happens regularly (usually in very old woodlands). Norsey Woods, near Billericay in Essex, seemed like the ideal place. It’s an ancient woodland run by Basildon District council, more info about the site from the society of friends and also reachable if you take the train to Billericay.

There are lovely woods close to where I live in London but none that I know of with really impressive bluebells.

From way back woods equals playtime to me – hiding, building dens, pretend trails, getting lost and then navigating back to safety, lots of picnics and startling wildlife. But shockingly during my family’s three hour wander we saw no other children. In the car park a regular stream of drivers were unloading dogs for a walk (admittedly our bluebell mission involved an 87-mile round trip driving in the car club car)* but not kids.

Pip explores an Oxfordshire wood.

Yes it was raining, but with the right clothes and such a huge tree canopy from the sweet chestnuts and hornbeams it’s hard to get that wet in this wood if you stay on your feet. My girls are 9 and 11 so all they needed was waterproof jackets and wellies to keep them dry. Toddlers would be better kitted up in all-in-one waterproof suits. The Norsey Wood bluebells were astoundingly lovely – and there were so many. Zoe, one of the brilliant mums quoted in Homemade Kids,sent me this pic of her son Pip, 3, in fleece and waterproof trousers busy exploring spring woods, but in a different county.

But back to our Essex adventure: we picnicked on the fallen trunks of a coppiced hornbeam, with bluebells, wood anemones, town hall clock, yellow archangel, wild gralic (ransoms) and sweet woodruff, closely overseen by a robin whose territory we were obviously invading.

What a shame Essex children get to miss out on the loveliness on their doorstep – although they could have been down the road at the primary school in Stock’s summer fair with plate smashing, plant stalls and pony rides.

Find your nearest bluebells
1 You can enjoy a free supervised tour (remember to accompany under 16s) on Saturday 29 May at Norsey Woods (Essex) nature reserve from 10.30-12.30 – see more at the council website here

2 In spring many gardens have a few bluebells. Get your children to look for the thinner, drooping-to-one-side violet flowers if you want to see traditional English bluebells. If they are sturdier and more upright, then you’re probably looking at the Spanish bluebell.

3 Bluebells and other woodland flowers are at their best between April – May and will grow in damp, shady places (eg, along hedgerows, verges, smaller woods). However bluebells are thought to give their best display the second year after coppicing, due to the amount of extra light hitting the woodland floor. If you are going for a walk with children see if you can find a woodland where bluebells grow – and then maybe encourage the children to think up their own special name for it.  You could also try counting how many bluebells you can see (or how many types of different flowers) to help start off your child’s first nature diary.

NOTE 1: It is illegal to pick flowers at Norsey woods because it is an ancient woodland defined as an SSSI (site of special scientific interest). Leaving the law aside never bother to pick a bluebell as they wither and die almost instantly – an important lesson to teach even the youngest children. You can always take photos/film if memories and the heady scent are not enough.

NOTE 2* – You can have great days out near to your home, just pack a picnic and rug and off you go, but this outing was meant to be a special family treat after a burst of electioneering (for the Greens, just so you know). So we also went on an Essex family history hunt visiting the village where the girls Granny Fiona used to live with her step father; and the farm on their paternal side that their Grandad Dennis rented from the council.

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