Every time we come back from The Netherlands we say we’ll cycle more. This time we seem to be doing reasonably well at it. Yesterday I had a glorious cycle to Newport to buy some new crochet hooks. On the way there I heard a saxophonist playing in the woods which was an unexpected pleasure.

I’m glad we live at the Cowes end though as I get all the annoying obstacles out of the way early ( the hilly bit with no right of way and no visibilty at Medina Vally Centre, the stupidly close poles on the bridge that we definitely wouldn’t have managed to fit our kiddy trailer through, and the kicked out junction with no right of way at Stage Lane) and can just enjoy the rest of the ride home, the angle of the views are slightly better on the way back to cowes too!

Cycling home I realised that being on my bike on a car-free path – particularly in my favourite gear ratio (2:6 if you are interested) – makes me feel almost as contented as swimming does. If we had Dutch style infrastructure and attitudes to cyclists I would feel happy very often 🙂

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Between Christmas and new tear we met up with both the Gibson and Anderson sides of the family.

Boxing day saw the traditional Boxing day visit of the Gibson family.

We had the usual walks, games, food and fun.

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Telestrations – the new game Iain gave us for Christmas was so funny I could hardly play as all the hilarity was making me cough!

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We had a gap in the family celebration while Martin went and played on the Saturday night with his Boy Band at The Hideaway in Shanklin

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Then Sunday saw a departure from our usual Christmas traditions with a meet up with the Anderson side of the family at a restaurant in the New Forest. The ferry was packed but we squeezed in around a table and while 3 of us played our usual ferry card game of Yaniv 2 of us were swottily attached to textbooks!

 

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This was my first experience of eating at a Michelin starred restaurant and it was a really interesting and delicious experience for me. It was so yummy I forgot to take photos of the food until we got to the pudding – which was definitely the best bit!

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We managed to meet up with some friends and found the teenagers thrashed us at Demons – did you know the Archbishop of Canterbury also plays.

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And then we saw out the old year and in the new at my favourite place on the island with some of my favourite people, eating curry and chocolate, drinking some sloe vodka, playing games and generally being silly – a great way to end and begin a year!

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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…)

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.

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 🙂

 

Had a lovely day.

Rebekah was out at work in the morning then spent the afternoon and evening planning and preparing music and then going out for a drive with her friend who has recently passed her test.

Ruth was heading to the hovercraft and a day on the mainland with friends thanks to one of their mums getting some free hover vouchers.

Which meant that I had an excuse to take Jonathan over to Ryde and to the skate ramps which he had just recently asked me to do. Add in a couple of his home-ed friends and he had a great morning getting more confident scooting. A trip home discussing tax avoidance along with Jeremy Vine on Radio 2.

He suddenly decided to start learning the ukulele so spent the afternoon swapping between youtube clips teaching him and games on the computer when he got too frustrated with it. Then he spent an age reading in bed.

It was a day I was very happy with.

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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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I have been think a lot about happiness recently – at some point I expect I’ll get round to blogging about it. But for now I have been thinking about things that make me happy right now, today. There is so much.

Because we are having a new bed made in Ruth’s room there were a pile of mattresses in the middle of the living room floor – I leapt on them and had a bit of a bounce, Martin joined me 🙂 Then Jonathan had a go and Rebekah also couldn’t resist

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Then the kids were heading out to various places and I needed to do the dishes so I found a radio 4 murder play and listened while I happily did the dishes and cleaned the window and window ledge in the kitchen.

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And the sunshine was glorious – even have a little washing on the line.

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A good walk out through the park to Gurnard

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and some time spent watching some of my friends doing some Morris dancing in their troop Moonshine along with The Oyster Girls.

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