Last Friday in a beautiful break in the weather we went on a fungi walk with the fantastic Sue Bailey  not only is she an amazing storyteller but she also leads a great fungi walk.

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I have been doing Sue’s fungi walks since we move to the Island (yes when you live on the Isle of Wight you really do just refer to it as “the island” and everything a ferry ride away is just “the mainland” regardless of whether it’s London or Edinburgh) twelve years ago. In that time I have come to learn a lot of the names but still can only identify about 3 fungi on my own – I aim to learn a new one each year but for some reason i just can’t retain the information!

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One of the things I love about a fungi walk is it is one of the things my family refers to as a “proper home-ed activity”. What they mean by this is it is something that people of all ages can and do join in with.

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Jonathan even managed to find one this year, but already I’ve forgotten what it is – maybe some sort of russula?

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parked_carsMaking good provision to allow people to walk, cycle and use public transport is a sensible thing to do even if you don’t give a stuff about the negative environmental or social consequences of driving a car and want to drive everywhere. Forget the green stuff*, simple old fashioned self interest shows it makes sense.

I’ll use the Isle of Wight as an example. We have a limited road network, little chance of major expansions to it and a population which mostly lives in small towns and large villages. For a rural area we have fairly low car ownership, and a higher than typical number of car-free households.

If our car ownership was more typical for our population density we would expect to see an extra 6,000 cars on the road (and this number could be much higher). Let’s ignore the impact that would have on congestion and demand for workplace parking and look at one single issue – overnight parking. A large number of these “new” cars would be owned by currently car-free households, some would be second/third etc. cars within a household. Given the makeup of Isle of Wight housing I think it is fair to say the majority of these cars would be parked on-road overnight. Conservatively let’s say 65%. Allowing 5.3 metres of space for parking (and people are going to have to get better at it if that’s all we use…) that’s 20.7km of extra on-road parking that needs to be found. I don’t know about you, but I struggle to see where we will find the space to put those extra cars

So, if we want to avoid this, doesn’t it make sense to ensure people have some good quality alternative options, so they don’t have to buy a car (or a second car, or a third car)? Wouldn’t it be better to invest in cycleways, making junctions safer for pedestrians, reducing traffic on side roads and improving public transport infrastructure and service provision than building 20km of new roads just to park our cars on?

(* Actually I’d rather you didn’t, but if you must…)

A couple of weeks ago I traipsed off to London to visit Rebekah – while poor Martin went to his Charity Management lectures at Twickenham.

It was lovely to meet up with one of my longest standing friends for lunch in the late summer sunshine at a beautiful spot near London Bridge.

You could see:

The Gerkin

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The Tower of London

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Tower Bridge

 

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The Shard (just about – much better view of that from Rebekah’s bedroom)

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And some weird alien looking thing!

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Then Rebekah met us and we had a walk along the Southbank and then had a tour of the various places she does her placement work (and the pubs she visits).

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A very quick trip to the Imperial War Museum followed.

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Then back to Rebekah’s flat. It was great to see her settled in, having a laugh with her flat mates and generally seeming very at home, and lovely to get some bangers and mash. We waited somewhat impatiently for Martin to arrive with the car and the office chair for Rebekah’s room and then dashed off to try and get the ferry we were booked on – with Martin shovelling down the bangers and mash as we went!

The Shard from Rebekah’s Bedroom:

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We have had a manic September full of satisfying if not always pleasurable activities. Saturday Live last week had an article about happiness Paul Dolan said that we needed a balance between pleasure and purpose to be happy. I feel like September has been a month encompassing both of those. However we had had a couple of weeks full of purposefulness but not so much pleasure and then in contrast we had 3 blissful nights spent at our friends’ beach hut. I have blogged a few times about this place possibly most significantly in my Bath Tub Places post and my Super Sundays post where I blogged about how it provided a light-bulb moment to change our lifestyle patterns.

So Thursday arrived; I finished my maths class, dashed to Lidl to grab some shopping, drove Ruth from college to Robin Hill for work came home and waited for Martin to arrive back from work. I shoved on my wellies jumped into the van and and headed straight for Thorness as quickly as possible. And then we stopped rushing.

We spent the time mooching on the beach,

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drinking wine.

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watching the birds,

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playing games,

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reading and doing puzzles,

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enjoying the candlelight,

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watching a very unexpected hovercraft landing.

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and taking photos, watching sunsets and sunrises, and really just generally relaxing.

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Once again we feel so lucky to live here and so grateful to generous friends.

Well the summer has past and I haven’t blogged about one of our most significant events. Rebekah hit 18 in July. Not quite sure how my first born got that old, it doesn’t seem very long ago at all since she was like this.

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Or even being a naughty as she clearly was here:

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There is a saying I have come across recently – The Days Are Long But The Years Are Short – and this definitely sums up how I feel just now. The baby years seemed endless and then the childhood seemed like we had all the time in the world to do the things we wanted. Then suddenly she wanted to do some exams and our carefree existence was suddenly taken up with past papers, exam boards and timetables. The last couple of years she has been working, volunteering and back to learning as she goes (as well as a few small diverse level 3 courses). Now she is 18, passed her driving test and is off to the big city to uni.

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I would have quite liked to have frozen time in the last year – it has been fantastic, no one doing exams, everyone at home but busy doing the things they were interested in. Now we have all change, Rebekah going, Ruth doing A levels at college and Jonathan starting on the (I)GCSE train, a very different year. But I have relished having one last year of some of the joys of home education of when they were small without so many of the stresses of little children.

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Writing about the passage of time of my family I feel quite emotional, but when people ask me if I’m upset Rebekah is going I honestly say no. This is very much the right time and the right thing for her to be doing, it is the natural way of things. She is ready to go and it feels right for her. I am slightly jealous of her though – I’d love the chance to do uni again right now! I’m sure I will have a cry when we finally leave her but I don’t feel like that now (some of you may remind me of this later if I fall apart as some of you are predicting)!

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We had a number of different birthday celebrations for her and I’ll post about them later

Some days are more difficult than others. Two of the main things that seem come up again and again when you study happiness seem to be gratitude and being present in the current moment and activity. Even on a difficult day I really really want to stay happy. So these are some things that have made me happy today.

 

Walking to work with Martin and having some time to walk through town and sit by the sea, I am grateful for the time and the fact that I can walk to the sea.

 

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I love listening to the sea and I live so close to it and yet I don’t always take the time to head down there and just enjoy it!

I also found this lovely red chilli in our cold frame thingy, it’s our first and I was very excited, I am grateful for its vibrant colours and the anticipation of its spicy taste.

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And tonight there is music to be played with friends so what’s not to be happy about!

Church camp with just 3 of us means we didn’t have to put up the awning so it was nice and easy in the campervan.

Music was good:

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With a reasonable sized congregation:

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Birthday cake was amazing:

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Jonathan enjoyed the pony rides:

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And the BBQing was well done:

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Great time, good company, very nice welcome :-)

 

My last month has been manic – extra maths classes, festival outreach at church and Rebekah’s 18th birthday celebrations. By Wednesday I had finished all of that and could head off to Oxford for a day with Martin, Martin had a meeting to go to and Jonathan and I tagged along for the ride and I could spend a day with no agenda just chilling out.

We started with a trip to the Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museums – we did stuffed birds, skulls and shrunken heads, and weapons and armour. Jonathan was a little disturbed by some of the human models which were a bit to anatomically graphic for him!

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Then we waited for Martin to join us at the University Parks.

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When Martin caught up with us we had a wander around the parks and played a quick game of table tennis.

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We headed back to the covered market and shared some delicious Thai food, junmped back on the park and ride bus and headed back to Southampton somewhat earlier than expected. We managed to get on an early ferry and were back in time to head out to Freshwater Bay and a quick swim before bedtime!