The last few days have been the most perfect autumnal weather. Really bright and crisp, with intensely blue skies. They seem to arch up, further away than usual, laced with strings of vapour trails. There’s enough flaming trees and gleaming berry goodness even in my urban heaven to make my throat ache as we walk to school.
To celebrate I have splashed out on a new cardigan. Whoo hoo. I am yet to wash (and inevitably ruin) it so for now am still stroking the sleeves with immense pleasure when I put it on. We’ve washed all the scarves and hats and wind ourselves up like homespun mummies in woolly pleasure before we venture out.
I realise I talk about my grey patch sometimes as though it’s an industrial wasteland. I still see a lot of loveliness in these places but actually Gloucester is a very small city, never that far from green loveliness. My neighbourhood has a sense of community I really value and plenty of thriving, amazing community projects. This week we’ve visited two of my favourites.
The first is just round the corner and is the Gloucestershire Resource Centre. It’s based in CityWorks which is a transformed old industrial site. Zeph went to an amazing afterschool playscheme based here when I was working, Cool Runnings, and there are plenty of other innovative and inclusive projects going on that make me feel glad and happy about stuff. The resource centre itself used to be restricted to companies and community projects but has recently started a family membership scheme. It’s five pounds for a year and you get to visit everyday if you wish and fill a bag from their cavern of treasures for £3.00. We, (Ida and I) spent a contented hour at least rummaging through foam shapes, bottle tops, intriguing remainders, misprinted sweetie wrappers in rolls, teabag material, old frames, lino offcuts, industrial sized cotton reels, bits of circuit board, reels of plastic and twine to mention but a few. A truly inspirational example of one persons rubbish being another’s treasure.
So far we’ve built a kind of steampunk techo octopus from some of the bits we brought home, played an endlessly amusing game of pirates with a couple of the huge cotton reels as very convincing telescopes and Zeph is constructing a pretty convincing robot with all the fuses and circuit board stuff. Brilliant. Being able all to produce all this raw material made me feel a bit like a post apocalyptic Mr Maker. Very satisfying.
We don’t homeschool, we know people who do but it wasn’t a choice I was happy with for Zeph. Not to say I wouldn’t consider it but it always amuses me that people seem to think it’s an either or situation. I attended a variety of schools on and off but looking back we were always learning stuff at home. Kids just soak stuff up don’t they? One of the things I like most about blogging is all the inspiration out there. Of course sometimes it makes me feel like a worm and as though we don’t do much but mostly I think – oooh, we could do that..and sometimes we do.
The other soulwarming experience this week was the City Farm. We’re lucky to live five minutes away from this one. I was working for the council when it opened about fourteen years ago and I remember the fuss and headlines in the local paper. Suggestions that the local community would raid the place after hours and string the livestock over bonfires to supply debauched nightly feasts was the best of what was said..” I mean they eat a lot of goat don’t they..” Honestly.
It’s gone from strength to strength – growing in size, animal population and school involvement. Originally funded by the City council it looked like it may have to close due to recent cuts. Luckily, thanks to the passion and commitment of the staff who run it the council were persuaded to gift it to a local charity who’ve secured funding for the next year as well as some more expansion.
Which means we can hang out with the chickens a bit more.
It’s very easy to see Beautiful Things here which is one of the reasons it’s so important. As usual I’m soothed and restored by a bit of duck action. I particularly enjoyed Steve’s howls at the vigorous devouring of his hand.
Even though I don’t always blog about them I’m still noticing my BT’s every day. Some days are easier than others but they are alway there. Today I’m enjoying the whole house smelling of chocolate thanks to a couple of trays of brownies. Zeph is always miserable about his birthday falling in the half term and after some questioning I pinned it down to not being able to distribute cakes with lordly extravagance like other kids do. Easily solved with a box of cake on the last day of term. One of my other BT’s is watching Ida’s joy in carefully sprinkling purple glimmer sugar all over the top of them. I’m struck, as always, at the intense concentration toddlers bring to a task they enjoy.
Other Bt’s include the steamy clouds of our breath in the frosty mornings, picking buttons from the tin to finish a present project, fairy lights on a grey overcast day.
Actually my top Beautiful Things this week have been the awarding of a Leibster by Round the World in Eighty Bakes – a wonderfully funny and inspirational new baking blog and Kate on Thin Ice, who I love, listing me in her listography this week. My next post is properly about that but I felt like I couldn’t post without mentioning how they made my heart sing this week. Thanks guys.