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.

Happy Easter.

I woke up at 5.30 so rolled out of bed and dashed off to East Cowes for their dawn service – I was a wee bit late, but in time for communion and bacon sandwiches. They didn’t sing Thine Be The Glory which was a slight disappointment and the sun rise was hidden by the clouds but it was still brilliant to be on the beach at sunrise celebrating Easter Sunday with other Christians from the island.

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And our mantelpiece is transformed from the solitary bare cross to a vibrant fruitful display.

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After much debate and searching of the ethical consumer website we decided on a compromise of Thorntons eggs, Thornons came out better than most of the mainstream fairtrade chocolates. I was very pleased with my Attic 24 inspired Easter wreath.

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And our bare branched tree is now covered by crosses and eggs – the girls thought my moustachioed eggs were not in keeping with the Easter tree but I was very pleased with them!

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Jonathan and I had a fabulous time at the Fort Victoria Foray yesterday.

We were there right from the start so had time to have a go at everything we wanted to do. Jonathan was probably at the older end of the age that these type of events are organised for and said there wasn’t too much that he wanted to do that he hadn’t done before – however we love Fort Victoria so it wasn’t hard to fill the day.

After a quick story about how the sea became salty with Sue Bailey Story Teller we headed off on a tree ID walk – it was a bit early so we were the only people on it which was great as we got lots of personal attention and we definitely picked up a few tips.

Next we had a quick wander down to the beach where we tried rock pooling without rock pools with Gift To Nature – it involved looking under loads of seaweed to find various creatures: fish, crabs, anemones etc. We only managed the anemones but others found more. As we were hungry we decided to find a quiet spot for some lunch and ended up perched behind the Aquarium. Then we popped in to have a look round – we love the aquarium and on this occasion saw the infamous weaver fish and a large cuttlefish.

 Had another look around all the stalls and Jonathan made a badge with the Wildlife Trust to add to his collection. Next off to the woods to have a look at the Forrest School area and make a clay face on a tree.

 

We started watching the Lifeboat displays but then went off to look at the new woodland trail.

We were not quite the only ones on the walk this time but very nearly. It was good to have a look at the new paths and also to see some of the work done by Ruth and Rebekah with the rangers and The Learning Zone a few years ago. We also got to see some of the musical items in the wood and learn how to tell the age of an oak tree without cutting it down (rule of thumb is measure 1m up and then measure around the trunk in centimeters – halve that number and you have a ball park age – the one we measured was about 100 years old).

 

 Time for an ice cream and while Jonathan was scoffing it I was watching the beautiful bees and butterflies on the buddleia behind the cafe

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A bit of assisting with some kite flying, as well as a couple of HE conversations and a chat about Jonathan’s interest in animation, and it was time to pack up and head on home.

One of the many clichés about home education is that it takes place primarily around the kitchen table. The Learning Zone decided to use this as a basis for a short film. We are making a time-lapse film around a kitchen table but we moved the table to the beach and used it as a central point to film some typical learning zone activities. The film is still being edited but we had a great day out at the beach regardless of how the film turns out.

Ruth was involved in the organising so got there at 4am with a small group of others. I turned up at the much more reasonable time of 8am with a stove and some eggs. Despite the early hour and the fact that it was grey and cold some of them still went swimming.

  

  

I lurked about for a bit and then went home and collected Rebekah and Jonathan and headed back.

By the time I got back more people had turned up and someone had drawn a labyrinth, which I had to go and walk.

  

  

  

We took some vinegar and bicarb and some diet fizz and mentoes to play with on the beach, we added the bicarb to the huge sand creation that had been built.

  

  

One of the few times that people really did descend on the kitchen table was when we had the Learning Zone tradition of cake time. Rebekah was in her element organising and making everyone line up!

  

Jonathan had a great day playing with his friends.

  

  

It was a great chance for lots of us to catch up with people we might not have seen for a while. And the filming and swimming went on through the day.

  

  

We managed to do some art on the beach – we made some sand casts.

  

There was lots of time to stand about chatting too.

  

More people came and went and then it was time to BBQ

  

Then we made some paper boats that we were going to launch later with candles in.

  

Next was something that regularly happens at Learning Zone camps – the camp fire – and some singing.

  

  

  

Then at dusk we tried to light the candles and set off the boats – it was a bit windy so we didn’t have much luck lighting them.

  

  

Then we were ending the day with a fire show – lots of Zonies (and ex zonies) are part of Ryde Extreme Performers and do amazing fire shows – the wind had dropped enough that we could enjoy the show safely.

  

  

  

I have no idea how the final film will turn out, or how long it will take to edit it, but we had a great day out despite a fair amount of wind and rain, and I think the day might be fairly representative of Learning Zone life – although not much of it actually went on around the kitchen table!

So moving on from the Eden Project we headed via Bodmin to Port Isaac. We had very specific instructions on how to get the car up the road to the cottage. When we got there we realised why the road was exceedingly narrow and personally I don’t think I would have managed to get up there, martin however possesses better driving skills than mine and managed it. We all decided that we would not bring the car back again (there was a parking space but it was a 10 min walk away) until the morning we were packing up!

  

Compared to Helford Passage this was a metropolis, there were cafes, tourist shops, pubs, hotels and even a Co-op.

We still aimed to do very little, but with more access to ice cream and fudge!

We’d bought some very yummy looking bread from the Eden project so that featured in our food choices for the next couple of days, the rools with home-made burger were brilliant but the focaccia despite looking gorgeous was too salty and rather slimy around the holes – Ruth’s was much better!

  

We adored Port Isaac, there were lovely walks and we discovered the next port along had a lovely little bay you could walk down to, from the cliff path, at low tide.

  

  

 

As we discovered this on an evening stroll we were not clothes for splashing about but the kids did anyway.

They did manage to get completely drenched.

We had a couple of lovely days out and spent the rest of the time mooching, walking, playing cards and more chilling!

  

  

I’m so behind with blogging so here are some photos from way back in February.

We had a lovely Sunday afternoon walk out at Bembridge, Rebekah was at a youth event with the Eternal Flame but the rest of us had a great afternoon outdoors.

 

Martin spent the time taking arty-farty photos.

  

  

 

The rest of us spent the time hunting for interesting stones,

  

playing, drawing and bird watching.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a playlist entitled Bath Tub Songs. This is because they are songs that I listen to and immediately give the same sense of well-being and relaxation that sinking into a hot bath tub does. Some of the songs included are Drive by The Cars, Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton and I’ll Stand By You by The Pretenders.

There are some places that have the same effect on me, just getting there gives me a rush of peace and contentment.

One of the places in the past that had that effect was Westonbirt Arboretum just because of how glorious it is.

Another place was the Pancake House we visited in the Netherlands. It was a perfect cycle distance from our holiday park and had wonderful atmosphere and we ate pancakes in the sunshine while the children played happily in the large and lovely playgroud. This makes me feel like that because it was one of those unexpected times where everything went well and right and there was no conflict at all.

But the place that does this to me most often and with the most depth is definitely Thorness Bay. Now this is relatively an inaccessible little area with mostly mud and rocks and a steep climb down to the beach which I can’t manage without either Martin’s help or my walking poles or sliding inelegantly on my bum. But there are some beach huts there and some of our friends own some of them and we have spent lovely lovely times there. And I think the reason I love it so much there is because every time we have spent there has been happy.

We have done Cardboard Boat Regattas, Shakespeare Readings, Sloe Chilli Walks, Cards, Dressing Up, Playing Games, Pizza Eating, Cooking on Fires, Sleeping Over and lots more besides. We have been so grateful that we have had friends who were willing to share what they had and so this place has taken on so much more significance than it really should. We also spent for us a significant Sunday there.

So last week when we were going to a BBQ and to meet up with some friends who had moved off the island I only had to step out of the car to experience that Bath Tub feeling. The kids ran off and arrived well before me, we BBQed and chatted – the kids headed for the beach and I sat on the sheltered veranda by myself for a while knitting and loving being there.

Even on a bright sunny bank holiday Monday it is possible to find an empty beach on the Isle of Wight if you know where to look.

We had friends visiting from the mainland and wanted to show then to show them some of the island that they wouldn’t normally get to see. We were all alone on the beach for a couple of hours and then were joined by a couple of fishermen and then a few other people.

Wednesday started with me getting all my photocopying done for the first few weeks at work and sorting out some other work bits and bobs.

Then a quick visit to M&S, for what else but knickers!

Then over to the park for the Not Back to School Picnic. Arriving early is not really the done thing for home educators but surprisingly Shane and Bran were already there. We sat together looking like a dysfunctional family – Shane at one end of the bench and me perched at the other end – separated by a large puddling in the middle – Ruth sat with her back to us ignoring us and reading a book and all of us completely ignoring Bran and Jonathan in the play park! Eventually others arrived and we had a lovely picnic in the sun.

We had to head off early in the afternoon as we had a plan to go to Whitecliff Bay. We love Whitecliff bay. We used to own a caravan at Sandhills holiday park and while we hated all the hassle renting it out was we loved the quiet times when we could have it to ourselves. The grandparents had the use of a caravan there for the week and we headed over there to relive all the wonderfulness that we felt at Our Beach.

We arrived and headed straight for the beach – Ruth even forgot to put her bag down she was in such a hurry and even martin had a paddle although he did only need a knotted hanky to finish off the look!

Rebekah insists she is not going to get wet (but we know she can’t help herself) and it’s nice to see that even at their age they’ll tolerate playing with their grandpa (who is not as brave as he thought he was!).

Ruth is looking beautiful and I am looking even more ridiculous than Martin!

Jonathan spent his time digging a big hole – well it’s what small boys are supposed to do! Ruth tries out her Kate Winslet impression!

I managed to persuade everyone that what would really make my day was a cuppa in peace and quiet at the lovely little cafe on the beach.

When I had eventually finished I discovered lovely blackberries to pick on the way back up the cliff to the caravan park.

They were lovely and I managed to pick a fair few on my slow walk back. They all thought I was drinking tea for the whole time, I can’t understand how they could think that! As i walked along the coastal path a little I could smell the BBQ that Martin had started and returned to find the everyone settling down for food.

Jonathan and I had a wonder around the site hunting for pine cones. Rebekah objected most strongly to this as I said I was collecting them for an Autumn display but also to be sprayed gold for Christmas. – it was the C word at this time of year that she strongly objected too!

Jonathan also rediscovered the swings and we found a good supply of FUNGI, we dug up a few samples to make spore prints for our nature table (that didn’t go quite to plan but more on that later)!

By the time we headed back to the caravan and the rest of the BBQ the girls had decided that the summer was now over and winter had begun, either that or they were getting in practice for the queues at the next Next sale! We had an altogether lovely day 🙂