Tuesday, 17 August 2010


The following poem was written by Siegfried Sassoon in 1919, less than a year after the end of WWI. He was already afraid that the horror was being forgotten, that this could happen again, after all their sacrifice. Thinking about this year and the deaths of the last few WWI veterans, the suicide bombers, the wars, the nuclear proliferation, I wonder what he'd think about the world of 2010?


Have you forgotten yet?...
For the world's events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city-ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you're a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.
But the past is just the same--and War's a bloody game...
Have you forgotten yet?...
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you'll never forget.

Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz--
The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench
Of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench--
And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
Do you ever stop and ask, 'Is it all going to happen again?'

Do you remember that hour of din before the attack--
And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you then
As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
With dying eyes and lolling heads--those ashen-grey
Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?

Have you forgotten yet?...
Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you'll never forget.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Is it just me...

...or does anyone else feel a little bit uncomfortable about *celebrating* VJ (Victory in Japan) Day? I mean, I can understand celebrating the end of the war, and I know that many Japanese POWs were treated horrendously. But just remembering those 2 atomic bombs - Little Boy and Fat Man - that ended the war and their consequences for the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as for the world in general since, I can't help but think that celebrating this in any way is somewhat distasteful. Especially bearing in mind the questions that have since been raised about whether or not they were actually 'necessary' (putting aside general discussions on whether the use of atomic weapons can ever be deemed necessary).

As ever, no answers, just questions, doubts and points to raise.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Pondering disasters - man-made and natural

Today is the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki which killed around 80,000 in the first day or two after detonation. The 65th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima was on Friday, and Little Boy killed 166,000 people there in the first two days alone.

Discussion continues recently of the best way to preserve and restore Auschwitz as a historical site so the Holocaust can never be forgotten or denied.

The current floods in Pakistan are affecting around 12 million people now, and although the known death toll is only around 1500 this is mainly because many bodies have yet to be found (and probably never will) and because the diseases and famine which will kill so many more have yet to strike.

I've been thinking about these items which have come up on the news in the last few days, and wondering how to expain them to my children - to all our children. The floods are the easy part - children seem to be born with a natural appreciation of the awe-inspiring power of nature. Nature is neither good nor bad, it just is. And natural disasters happen. Though it is hard to explain why we can't help more, why rescue workers can't get to people trapped in valleys by the flood waters.

But how to explain atomic bombs and the Holocaust? In fact, I think I'd find it easier to explain atomic bomsb than the Holocaust. Obviously, children need to know and need to know thoroughly about these things, to ensure they never happen again, but bloody hell, doesn't some of your innocence die when you discover mankind is capable of such things?

Monday, 2 August 2010

Disaster in Pakistan

Over 1 million people have been affected by the floods in Pakistan and as the flood water contaminates the drinking water, disease will surely spread. All those of us who have children can imagine what it would be like trying to nurture your family under those circumstances, so I urge everyone who can manage even a tiny amount to donate the appeal now.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Coming up to Lammas

And this year I'm feeling much more connected to this special time of year. Due to such a late spring, my own garden harvest is more in tune, time-wise, with the wheat harvest, so they chime together this year. Also, I feel I am progressing along my spiritual path so much more than last year. I've made a lot of changes, met some people (coincidentally?), started some spiritual studying, been meditating much more regularly and deeply, and started studying and practising journeying.

Looking at our lives in the year since the previous harvest, I wonder what we'll be harvesting, in a personal sense, this year? There is a general sense of plans long laid finally coming to fruition, what with my husband's new job really taking off and me finishing my life coaching course and finally starting to set up my practice. When you add in my son finally self-weaning and the the whole feeling of 'moving on a phase' in the area of child-rearing, things are exciting and scary as changes are happening.

So, we'll be making our Lammas loaf with love this weekend, and I now have a group celebration to go to as well the following weekend, which I'm also looking forward to. There is balance. For now.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010


After the devastating events in the Gulf of Mexico recently, you'd think people would be extra careul there with oil, wouldn't you? Well, actually, no. It seems that a boat knocked the top of a shallow-water well-head only today! Which made me wonder what else is going on that is only reported very quietly, or not at all?

Obviously, there is the Chinese oil spill which may or may not have been contained now, depending on which news you read. And which has not been reported with anything like the excitement of the Gulf of Mexico one.

Then there was an 8 day spill into the Red Sea last month which didn't seem to be reported in the major news outlets at all.

Plus spills in Salt Lake City, Singapore, Great Keppel Island in Australia, Port Arthur in Texas, and the Yellow River in China - and that's just in 2010. People seem to be mighty careless with this increasingly precious resource - and that's just the oil, as to how they treat the enviornment it leaks into, that's nothing short of criminal. And yet there don't seem to be criminal charges pending as a result of any of these spills, to my knowledge.

Is it only me who finds this very disquieting?

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Sudden Oak Death

Felling of thousands of trees has started due to Sudden Oak Death, a disease also known as Phytophthora ramorum which was first discovered in California in 1995 and has now spread to Europe. Despite its name, it doesn't only infect oaks, and in fact it started in Japanese larches in the UK. It is hoped that by felling trees around known areas of infection, the spread can be halted. There are now 40 sites of suspected infection in Devon and Cornwall and the disease has also been found in Wales and East Anglia. Landowners and tree-lovers are asked to be vigilant and report signs of infection.

Pagans, nature-lovers and anyone who has a morsel of decent feeling should be deeply concerned about this, and other recent outbreaks of diseases affecting our native trees.

New henge found

You wait for a henge for 2000 years and then 2 come along at once! Archaeologists have found a new henge only 900m from Stonehenge. It was discovered as part of a new 3 year survey of the whole area around Stonehenge and the scientists involved are confident that other huge discoveries will be made before the time is up. This new survey could throw new light on the meaning and use of henges in the area, and indeed around Britain for that matter.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Thoughts on Beltaine

Well, I haven't posted for a long time as I've had lots of stuff to work out in my head which has been too private to share. Finishing breast-feeding has really felt like the end of an era and has prompted a lot of soul-searching before realising that, obviously, the end of one era is always the beginning of a new one. This realisation has been liberating and exciting as well as terrifying and worrying. I've had to do a lot of thinking about what exactly I want to do nowadays. Who am I now that that first white-hot crucible of intense motherhood has cooled a little?

So, now I feel my creativity is returning, I want to focus more on my spirituality, spread my wings outside the family circle a little, get involved with things a little. But, as much as that attracts it, it also scares me a bit. The cycle of change has already started though, and I can't stop it. I don't want to stop it. I'm sure that it's no coincidence that my son stopped feeding just before the Spring Equinox, kicking off a year's cycle of change and growth. I wonder where we'll by by the winter solstice this year?

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Some thoughts on the end of breast-feeding

I think we really have stopped, although I suppose the real test will come with the first non-feeding illness. But, for the moment presuming we've stopped, I have a few thoughts on the matter.

Given that breastfeeding, especially when combined with co-sleeping, seems to affect the deepness of a person's sleep I am currently also wondering about its effect on meditation. The reason is this. I meditate, and have tried to do so semi-regularly for years. When I had my first baby this went out of the window for a bit and it certainly did when I had my second baby. However, when they went past the baby stage and especially when my son started actually sleeping during the night, I started meditating again. It did seem hard and a struggle and I presumed this was because of lack of practice or focus, however, now that he's stopped feeding I suddenly find it much easier to get back to that deep level of trance that I used to achieve. I also definitely feel much more deeply asleep at night, despite still co-sleeping with both children (and of course my husband!). Has anyone else experienced this?

I am also wondering about the effect on the relationship with my son. The breastfeeding relationship gives you a very intense closeness with a child. I can't comment on how it is different to a relationship with a bottle-fed child as I've never bottle-fed, but I certainly remember feeling a shift in the relationship between me and my daughter when she finished feeding and now I'm noticing a similar shift with my son. I presume it is a temporary thing - a re-establishing of the relationship in a different way, but it was different with my daughter as I was heavily pregnant and about to gain a second child, so all that issue was also wrapped up in the end of the breastfeeding relationship. Also, with her the relationship was only almost 2 years old, rather than 5 years old.

I'm not really sure of the point I'm trying to make but I'd love to hear from other full-term breastfeeders about the thoughts and issues they had when the journey finally ended.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Spring Equinox

So, another equinox and this was a good one despite the incessant drizzle. We dyed hard-boiled eggs using wet tissue paper:

We made Marble cake for it's equal darkness and light kind of qualities, plus it was very nice to eat!
And we had an equinox egg hunt, in which the children found these:

Plus of course much thinking of balance and the start of new projects. I had the image of an eagle in my equinox meditation which has given me much food for thought. I hope everyone else had as good a start to the summer!

Monday, 8 March 2010

Another birthday

This time my son's 5th birthday, made all the more piquant by the fact that he finally weaned 3 days before his birthday, making it feel all the more like an end of an era and the start of a new one.

The birthday cake this year was an aeroplane, which was amazingly difficult!

And I made some felt tarts - my son's is the blue one and my daughter's (unbirthday present) is the pink one.

It was a lovely day seeing family and lots of good food, and the inevitable reminisces of the day my son was born, can it really be 5 years ago? My little boy is really growing up - though don't tell him that. He has decided he will not be getting any older than 5 and a quarter, so we'll just have to hope he changes his mind at some point during the coming year.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Wanting to get active again

So, I find the wheel of life is turning and once again I am wanting to focus more on my spirituality, and share it more with my children now they are old enough to understand. I would love to find a person or two in the local area that I can share my Pagan path with and maybe do the odd eclectic ritual even! Preferably in family-friendly gatherings with children involved.

The trouble is (and all you Pagans out there will really know what I mean here), how to find people who *aren't mad*? I'm very wary of getting involved with any of the big groups, having gone down that route rather less than successfully. The PF don't really have any moots, groups or gathering close by (and I've been to their London Open Rituals lots of times in the past and not really been that impressed) and I'm not getting involved with CoA again. I am too scared to put a note in my local new age shop because that will definitely draw out the nutters.

My faith is not ceremonial, not Wicca, not 'new agey'. My faith is very practical, very down to earth, mainly based in the kitchen and the garden, but I'm feeling the need for some 'outward display' for want of any other term, partly in order to instruct my children in this, the faith of their family.

It would also be great to be able to meditate with other people, whether this be in a shared 'working', or just as individuals practising together.

I'm a bit stumped and hoping that if I put this idea out there in the universe, some link will be made and a sane friend of a friend maybe will become known to me.

Those of you who are Pagan and practise with a group, how did you find your group? I repeat, I'm not Wiccan and I'm not looking for initiation or a coven, just a few like-minded people. I don't particularly wish to teach or be taught, just a kind of sharing as we each wander our own path.

Any ideas?

Monday, 1 March 2010

Thoughts on violent play

I hadn't really had to think about violent play until recently. My children (boy and girl) both get very physical and I generally leave them to it unless they're breaking the furniture or really doing my head in. I'm really passionate about free play for children and they need that safety valve. But recently we had a problem with violent play that went too far at our home ed group and so I've been researching into what could go wrong, and found these words in Sue Palmer's 21st Century Boys: How Modern Life Can Drive Them off the Rails and How to Get Them Back on Track: "Critical to this was that the 'gun, fashioned by himself, was his own imaginative construction and could thus become whatever he wanted. A shop-bought toy gun doesn't have that same transformational power. In the words of the major British researcher in this field, Penny Holland, when a child is given a manufactured replica toy, 'the toy determines the play, not the child'. So the problem is not little boys running around shouting 'bang, bang, you're dead' but a society that commercialises every aspect of children's lives."

She goes on to say that this commercialisation means that children are "trapped in a manufacured adult fantasy".

And this is the nub of the matter, I feel. I'm finding Palmer's book very interesting, at least as practical and useful as her earlier Toxic Childhood: How The Modern World Is Damaging Our Children And What We Can Do About It which I reviewed a long while back. However, the trouble is, what do you do if you bring your boys (and girls!) up right, don't give them commercialised toys, don't expose them to marketing and junk play, but then they come into contact with others who have been saturated in this kind of rubbish? My boy isn't so easily influenced thankfully, purely because he doesn't seem to be your stereotypical boy, but in a group setting when the oldest and those looked up to as role models are trapped in the commericalised adult fantasies, it skews the whole group dynamics and means that trusting that free play will be safe and fair cannot be done. Which is a shame.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010


It is my daughter's 7th birthday today. So, firstly, a couple of pictures. Her birthday cake, lovingly hand-crafted by me (it's a butterfly of course, just in case you can't tell!):

And the felt cakes I made for her as part of her birthday present (the one with pink icing) and my son as an 'unbirthday' present (the blue icing):

Birthdays are a strange thing - stressful and exciting and unsettling in equal measures, even when the birthday is not your own. Of course, the birthday of a child brings to mind thoughts of the pregnancy with that child and of the day they were born. It reminds us of time passing and of how much the child has changed and learned and developed into their own person.

It also makes me think of how much I have learned as a parent since my daughter (my eldest child) was born, and makes me wonder if I could do it all better if I were to do it all over again. Which I am not going to.

And then there's all the social pressure associated with children's birthdays. I'm lucky, as my children are home educated there hasn't been any peer pressure on them to request big, expensive parties with every person in there class and junk food, party bags and lots of consuming of plastic tat. Or maybe it's just their personalities anyway. Either way, it's been lovely to have a relaxing but fun day with visits by various grandparents, uncles and aunts throughout the day, a homemade cake with all organic ingredients and no colourings, homemade pizza for tea, and fairly low-key presents, such as books and craft kits.

It's just made me wonder why we have to wait for a birthday or special occasion to gather everyone together. Hmm, one to ponder on. How to get all the family together in a similar relaxed fashion more often?

So, now all there is to do is to pop the wrapping paper into the kids' craft box for re-use in art masterpieces, look forward to my son's 5th birthday in 2.5 weeks, and have an evening in a very weird head-space thinking about birth and pregnancy and fertility and the passage of time and parenting skills.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Noughts & Crosses, Kryten and the cute one from The Mary Whitehouse Experience

OK, bear with me as these 3 things don't really go together but they are the things I've been doing recently!

Firstly, the Noughts & Crosses trilogy of books (in 4 parts, of course, as all good trilogies appear to be!) by Malorie Blackman are utterly fantastic. Noughts and Crosses is the first part. If you haven't heard of these books, they are children's books, though very much for older teens, set in an alternative contemporary world where Crosses (dark-skinned) are the donimant race and Noughts (light-skinned) are oppressed and ignored. It uses very clever subversion to illustrate how things can be unfair and prejudiced and explores the themes of race and terrorism in a very clear and compelling way. A warning: these books are very traumatic but utterly addictive. Despite their very bleak story, you won't be able to put them down until you've found out what happens at the end of the final book. They are not an easy read emotionally but they are powerful and extraordinarily well-written and tightly plotted.

Secondly, Kryten. OK, not actually Kryten by his alter ego Robert Llewellyn and more specifically his book Sold Out: How I Survived a Year of Not Shopping. Now, I've read a number of these books about not spending or cutting down and they all become much of a muchness after a while, but this one was different. It wasn't a diary-style memior of his triumphs and failures in his self-imposed challenge. It was a themed look at the reasons behind it and the issues which came up for him and how they linked in to his personal history and current family situation. A much better prospect. And I think one of the best books of this kind that I've ever read. Funny, honest, thoughtful and insightful

Thirdly, Rob Newman. OK, hands up who lusted after him back in the early 90s when he was part of the 'comedy is the new rock'n'roll' Mary Whitehouse Experience. Well, now he has truly become the thinking green woman's crumpet as a political activist, and if you want to improve your mind, have a laugh and a bit of eye-candy all in one fell swoop, I can do no better than to recommend this DVD: Robert Newman - History Of Oil. This is intellectual stand-up, powered by cyclists. This is a fantastic way of getting across the reasons behind green politics, and a really interesting history lesson on the west's involvement with the middle east and oil from the beginning of last century. And it's funny. Can't say fairer than that.

So, a mixed bag, but all highly recommended.

Monday, 1 February 2010


So, Imbolc tomorrow and, like last year, we had snow this morning. I just can't celebrate Imbolc until I've seen a snow-drop! (Rather than snow, dropping!)

But, despite this, I do feel the stirrings that it might be around the corner. That awful January blankness is starting to lift. Two sunny days are starting to kick that Spring hypermania into gear and list are starting to be made, plans being planned and writing being written.

So, this year, we need to do some dreaming - dreaming of our ideal life, our best life and then planning all the little ways we're going to gradually, very slowly, get to that point.

In an echo of this time last year, my husband's main job finishes in 10 days time, but looking back at where we were last year, we've moved forward so much. He's qualified now and teaching his first classes with the promise of lots more come September and lots of other avenues to pursue for applying for more. So, although his main job is going, he still has some work, so although we'll be back on the JSA, it's not quite the same.

My job is ongoing and I'm over halfway through my course now too. These changes are gradual and have taken real energy, commitment and faith and will continue to do so, but I'm holding on to the fact that so often the universe provides and changes are for the best. I'm also grimly determined that the children will not be given the example of Mummy and Daddy trudging out to work every day and hating what they do. I want the kids to see that work is something you can choose and change. T's something you control, not that controls you. I want to model a different way of relating work and family and money. Some days I worry I'm just modelling how to be very very skint. But, what the hell, I suppose that's a useful lesson too!

So, roll on the snow-drops. I'd love to hear when anyone else sees their first one!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Inspiration crashing down to earth

So, as you may not be surprised to hear, I've been reading again. This time The Self Sufficient-ish Bible by Andy & Dave Hamilton, and Do Good Lives Have to Cost the Earth? which is a series of essays by various learned people, edited by Andrew Simms. As always, these kind of books are really inspiring and make you want to get out there and make some redical changes! And then real life kicks in and I'm deflated.

Okay, we don't have a car to get rid of, we never fly, we're vegetarian and we try to grow as much of our own food as we can in the garden and allotment. We use public transport and cycle and walk. We buy second hand clothes or strictly fair-trade if new. We buy fairly traded tea, coffee, chocolate, sugar, bananas, rice and everything else we can manage to. We buy as much from our local farmer's market as we can. We don't buy lots of new 'stuff'. We have 1 small, old TV and 1 computer which was second-hand. We turn everything off stand-by, have low-energy light-bulbs and try to conserve water. We have a water butt in the back garden. We use only environmentally household cleaners, ditto with the minimal toiletries we use.

But I'm not saying all this to be smug - I know there is loads more we could do (there always is unless you live in a yurt in a field in total harmony with nature), but right now, I can't see how. And this is depressing. I look round the house in a fresh zeal for getting rid of stuff and clutter, and for reforming the way we live, and come up against a brick wall. What could I get rid of - PC, no I use that for working. Cookbooks? No I use them for cooking. Printer? No. SAD light? Definitely no. Table? No. Kitchen cupboards? No. Books? Maybe. We do have a cull every now and again and are quite strict about getting rid of stuff but the ones we keep are ones we read again or refer to. Similar with CDs - we try to download individual tracks mainly these days, and have culled our CD collections as much as we can right now, considering that music is a big thing for both of us.

Obviously, we do have a fair amount of kids' clutter, but looking at it, most of it is fairly harmless, if widely spread - paper, paints, penicls and crayons and pens, scrapbooks, works of art (!), worksheets, packaging recycled into craft creations, glue, scissors, lego, train track, toy cars, books. We're not talking high-tech consumer hell here. Upstairs - can't get rid of stored bedding, or clothes, would be foolish to get rid of sewing machine. Downstairs - tool-box is vital, sewing box, felt, wool, other crafting stuff, bicycle helmets, play pop-up tents, vacuum cleaner, clothes horse, crockery, cutlery, baking tins, string, seeds, matches, candles. All of this stuff is pretty basic day-to-day stuff. Of course, if we lived in an African village, we could and would do without it. But living here, in the UK in the 21st century, this stuff is fairly low tech and basic.

So, where do we go from here? Well, we just used the last possible spare money we have in replacing a window which was (according to the man who replaced it) in severe danger of falling out, with a new, A-rated double glazed and properly vented one which hopefully will help eliminate the black mould on the bedroom wall (eww) and add to the insulation of the house overall. Given that other windows are also in a similar state, it would probably be eco-friendly to replace them too but we can't afford it. I'd like to try and convert our toilet to run mainly on collected rain-water but that again takes money and know-how, neither of which I have right now. Apparently we can't do solar hot water as we don't have a water tank, but other PV panels might be a possibility. If we had the money which we don't. We could maybe add to the loft insulation, but it's pretty thick already, and we don't have any more money.

So here I am racketing round the house alone (kids asleep, husband out earning the cash we don't have), keyed up with righteous inspiration and no-where to expend it. Am I just deluding myself that there's nothing we can do right now? I don't see the point of getting rid of stuff for the sake of it, especially not stuff that we actually use and is constructive or harmless or both. Now I just feel depressed.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Mumbo Jumbo and The Arms Trade

These are things I have been reading recently and which deserve a review. Firstly Francis Wheen's How Mumbo-jumbo Conquered the World: A Short History of Modern Delusions which took some concentrating on but was ultimately very interesting. As with all such books, I didn't agree with everything he said and I thought on occasion he'd thrown out some babies with bathwater, but I particularly found the chapters on the Thatcher and Reagan regimes fascinating. It filled in some history for me in terms of how the US and UK interfered in politics in the middle east, in particular in Iran, and the chapters on how the economics of the time didn't add up and have led to the situation we are currently experiencing were particularly illuminating.

Wheen's main thrust is that since 1979 every institution in the west has been turning its back on the values on the Enlightenment - rational thinking, logic, open-mindedness, lack of superstition, turning away from religious faith - and turning towards the 'mumbo jumbo' of the title. There are many things he includes in his definition of mumbo jumbo, including many things which are frankly shocking, such as Ronald Reagan's use of astrologers in making US policy. He's also very much against relativism and post-modernism. His thoughts on Princess Diana were very funny. He attacked Left politics as well as Right politics.

However, sometimes the tone became a bit smug. Personally I do actually think that examining accounts of history taking into account the context in which it was written is a logical and scientific thing to do. But, a bit of balance, I do also think that there are also objective facts which can be established. Wheen seems to be saying at times that context and relativism are never useful. I'm also very dubious at his claims that alternative medicine is illogical and irrational superstition. And his assertion that conventional medicine is entirely based on logical progression in research and scientific methods is just plain ignoring many facts which spring easily to light should you pay even the most passing attention to the history of medicine. Maybe wishful thinking?

Anyway, all in all, very amusing, enlightening and wlel worth a read even if there are bits which will annoy you a bit.

The second book I want to talk about is Mark Thomas' As Used on the Famous Nelson Mandela: Underground Adventures in the Arms and Torture Trade which was another fascinating, if very disturbing, book. I have to admit to not knowing very much about the arms trade, and neither do I want to. Except, that we should know about it, in order to campaign for it to be better regulated. If you know anythig about Mark Thomas and his comedy style, then you'll be able to imagine the kinds of things he does for this book - sets up fake arms companies to trap arms dealers in breaking the law, to show up the ridiculous and inadequate nature of the law, and to show how big business takes precedence over concern for human life.

I wasn't sure how many laughs could be squeezed out of such a subject, but Mark Thomas manages to make us laugh about it without ever forgetting how serious it is. This is an important book which never reduces things down to a simplistic level. Thomas manages to acknowledge the humanity and complexity even of the most repugnant and callous arms dealer, while at the same time condemning their trade. The Government (yet again!) are the ones who come out of this book the worst. And it's good to know that Thomas' actions for this book did actually prompt some real changes in the law. Another recommended book.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

A new challenge for the new year

I've decided to stop washing my hair and see what happens. Since we moved house 2.5 years ago, I've spent a long time faffing about with my hair and being cross about it. The extremely hard water here (even harder than the hard London water in our previous house) just reacts with shampoo to make a scummy mess so that long hair like mine always looks limp, dull and in need of a wash.

I've been contemplating what to do about this - I've tried various shampoos, the best being Lush's Hard (a solid shampoo) and Lush's I Love Juicy (a liquid one), but I'm not prepared to go mainstream with our shampoos again. I tried washing it in rain-water which really helped but is not very practical for most of the year and is a real faff.

I could cut my hair, which I don't want to do as it doesn't look right short and would also need regular cuts which I don't do. I also thought about dreading it, but again, seems like a lot of hassle. I just want to leave it, occasionally brush it, but generally just leave it and it look OK enough so I'm not having major self-esteem issues over it.

I've tried using lemon juice, vinegar and bicarbonate of soda, and various combinations thereof, and just ended up with sticky hair or pips.

So finally, observing the fact my children seem to have lovely shiny, fluffy hair and yet wash it with shampoo once a month as the most, I have decided to do the same. Having researched this, it appears that most people experience a period of acclimatisation to not washing the hair with shampoo which can be from 4 weeks to 8 weeks. Some people don't find it ever acclimatises and stays a greasy mess. I guess I just have to try, so I'm giving it 8 weeks. I last used shampoo on Sunday 3 January, so I'll see where we are by late February.

Here's to 8 weeks of hats and tying my hair back. So far, so good.

Friday, 1 January 2010

New Year

And is it a new decade? I don't mean to be pedantic but I'm never sure exactly when a new decade starts - is 2010 the last year of the decade or the first year of a new one? There seemed to be much dissent about when the new millenium started - the end of 1999 or the end of 2000? Was there a year zero and if so, does this make any difference anyway? I'm rather confused. But, presuming it is a new decade, here's a quick resume of my decade, starting in 2000.

The new year of 2000 was memorable because me and my husband both had the worst flu we'd ever had and he had to delay starting a new job because of it. We had fairly recently adopted 2 cats, and I was working at a local FE College. During the year, I changed jobs to working for a charity which dealt with victims of medical accidents. I also started getting more involved with the local Pagan scene and with one specific group in particular.

In 2001 we bought our own flat and moved in in May. Towards the end of the year, I went part-time at work in order to be able to spend more time studying - I was coming to the end of my part-time degree. I started doing website moderating for the Pagan group I was involved with and also became their online agony aunt.

In 2002 I started the final year of my degree - it took me 6 years part-time altogether. I also started a new job for the government quango the Housing Corporation. It was another part-time job. I found out I was pregnant with my daughter within weeks of starting, and what with that and my degree I never really felt I got to grips with what I was supposed to be doing. I took my final exams at the end of the year while 6 months pregnant and stopped working at Christmas.

In February 2003 I gave birth to my eldest child, my daughter. Her planned homebirth went wrong and we ended up being transferred to hospital by ambulance and having an assisted birth which shocked us both with its brutality. Funnily enough, she took up the rest of the year. As planned, I didn't go back to work, and we were pretty much absorbed with her. We lost one of our cats, our beloved boy Sebastian to kidney failure.

In March 2004, we got married in a small, low-key but very enjoyable way and our daughter was the star of the show. At the end of the year, my book Solitary Eclectic Witchcraft was published. By the summer I was pregnant with my son and I spent most of the year being sick.

By the start of 2005 I was sick, shattered and depressed and ending up giving birth 3 weeks early in March. But it was a relatively peaceful homebirth as we had hoped and the rest of the year was spent adjusting to being a family of 4.

By 2006 we really needed to move out of our tiny flat but the process was not smooth and everything that had been planned since the spring of that year fell through just before Christmas, leaving us to start again the following year. I started self-publishing my writing, starting with a novel Towards The Sea, then my home education books Freya and Heath Are Home Educated and The Genie In The Teapot and then the follow-up to my previous book on Paganism, Thoughtful Pagan Living.

In 2007 I had a small article published in Green Parent magazine, then started writing for Hippyshopper, the green website. I also got published in Juno magazine and started the first of a series of articles published in The Mother. We finally managed to move house (and town) in July after a lot of stress. My brother-in-law got married the following weekend! It took me many months to settle into the new house and the new town, and I was still feeling upset and isolated at the end of 2007.

At the start of 2008, my job with Hippyshopper was cut and I started working for 63336 - a text-based question and answer company, where I've been working ever since. I also started meeting up with individual families in the local home education scene, culminating in co-starting a local meet-up in a park. I finished another novel, but have so far failed to get it published and am undecided about publishing it myself. I took over an overgrown allotment plot in May and we got our first crops from it in the autumn.

In the spring of 2009 we decided to formalise the home education group and moved it into a rented hall for weekly sessions in July, setting up our own bank account and getting our first funding shortly afterwards. I also joined a local fledgling Transition Group in the summer, but so far it doesn't really seem to be getting properly started. Our allotment was much more fruitful this year and we had onions for 4 months, potatoes for 6 months, and tons of carrots, swede, peas, and beetroot. We also had tomatoes, courgettes, strawberries, raspberries and French beans from the garden, and I made lots of jam from fruit either picked free locally or cheaply from the nearby Pick-Your-Own farm. I've also started work on a Young Adult novel. And started doing a course to learn to be a life coach.

And so, plans for 2010? My major plan for 2010 is to try and visualise in all areas of my life exactly what I'd like, ideally, and then try to make that happen, no matter how incrementally that might have to be. The dreams have to be as exact and ideal as possible, even if they are not practical or realistic, and only then must I sit down and work out in what ways I can achieve them. The dreaming is important, to give me the goal to aim for. I'm hoping to finish my course and start being a life coach. I'm hoping to finish my Young Adult novel and get it published. I'm hoping to continue working and running the Home Education Group and doing my allotment. I'm hoping to be inspired.