Monday, 27 August 2007

Walking again

Just back from a long bank holiday walk in the hills. Half way up the first hill ( a mere baby compared to the other two peaks we were planning to take in) Dominique started to complain of having a headache, being tired etc.

However, when asked about her favourite book this holiday, she went on about Dick King-Smith for the next hour and a half, taking in nearly all the height gain for the walk. And then announced her headache had gone.

Distraction remains one of my preferred ways of dealing with these things!

The walk was fantastic: sunny weather and a good breeze to keep us cool, three peaks and a picnic on top ; a mountain lake and a long descent through a beautiful valley back to the car. The views from the peaks and ridges were stunning and the great thing about walking as a family is that everyone gets the chance to chat with everyone and to have some time alone, too.

Seven hours later, we've just got home - and poor Goldie has collapsed in her basket!

Thursday, 23 August 2007


Ant got her GCSE results today and did very well - 10 A*s and an A. Her friends all seem to have got the results they hoped for too, so everyone is very happy.

Her school has had exceptionally good results this year, so a lot of credit must go to them. However, I can't help reflecting on the Head's nervousness when he first interviewed her and learned that she had no TV and wondered how she could stay abreast of current affairs and the modern world. I feel our policies have been vindicated too.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Architectural heresy

We went to a church in Scotland that seemed to me to have been designed by a heretic.

It was deliberately flat - the whole aesthetic stressing the horizontal rather than the vertical. The tabernacle was tucked away in a corner. The crucifix did not have Christ Crucified, but rather Risen. There was no central aisle. and so on... In fact in every way it was designed to break with the traditions of Church architecture: traditions which have developed to communicate a sense of the sacred. And the result was that the congregation behaved with no sense of the sacred. They did not genuflect to the tabvernacle, but walked straight past it, bowing oddly in the vague direction of the altar - or the priest? Or the crucifix?... They chatted before and after Mass as though in a coffee shop, and so on....

Chrisitianity is an incarnational religion or it is nothing. Those who commission or design Churches like that either don't understand the implications of that fact or are heretical...


Just back from a few days camping in the Scottish Highlands. We had arranged to meet another counter-cultural family there and spent a few days walking - including climbing our first Monroe.

The kids had a great time, as did we. They all looked after each other, encouraged each other on the walks, played together in the river, took the dogs for walks and runs and so on.

There was quite a lot of discomfort of one sort or another: wet clothes, over-crowded tents, long walks in the rain, washing (and washing up) in cold water, and so on. All very character-building!

Despite all that - and dull weather and lots of midges - we all declared it a great success.

Sunday, 12 August 2007


I took Bernie, Charlie and Dominique to the climbing wall yesterday. We were the only ones there, so could mess about a bit - falling off on purpose and swinging on the rope etc. I let Bernie take charge fo the safety rope for my climbs, and for the little ones. It is a great builder of trust and confidence to let the kids take serious responsibility for each other's well-being 0 nd mine!

Friday, 10 August 2007

Picnic and conversation

We went for a picnic yesterday - a four mile climb into the hills to sit by a small lake. Bernie and I (and Goldie, our golden retirever) then decided to walk home (another 10 miles over the hills) while the others went back by car.

It gave me and Bernie the chance to be together and chat about something or nothing for a few hours.

In fact we got talking about love and marriage; about some friends whose parents are splitting up, and another firend who had a baby by a boy she has since split with halfway through the sixth form.

This was sex education as it's meant to be, in my view - an intimate conversation between parent and child about the meaning of love, the value of waiting, and the purpose of marriage.

And it was a gloriously sunny day, too!

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Picnic - kids only

The three kids at home (Ant is still away) took themselves off for a picnic today, down by the local river. They took Goldie who loves to swim, and all went for a dip - it was a blazing hot day! Bernie (14) was in charge - and we feel quite confident in her ability to look after them all on such a trip: and it is important that she knows that we do. They had a great time and returned safe and sound - though somewhat shattered!

Holiday pastimes...

Yesterday we took the three younger kids (Ant being away) to grandma's. She's re-decorating a room , and needed the old wall paper stripped off. So we took our steam stripper and a few scrapers and spent a happy afternoon peeling paper off the walls.
I let Bernie operate the steam stripper: she burned herself once but not twice: that's education! I didn't let Charlie have a go despite his clamouring - and despite being confident he could do so safely. I preferred to keep it as something that only the eldest child (present) could do. I think it is important to give the older children more responsibility than the younger: we make many more demands of them, so helping them feel there are positive aspects to being older is also important.

Driving Education - based on Sex Ed...

From the BBC News www site:

"The minimum driving age must be raised from 17 to 18 to stop young people "killing themselves and others", MPs have said.
The Commons transport committee also wants learner drivers to spread lessons over a year before taking the test and a complete alcohol ban for new drivers.
Novice drivers should be banned from carrying passengers aged between 10 and 20 late at night, the report adds."

So MPs are to considering coming down heavily on young drivers. Surely this is the wrong approach. Based on the government's approach to teenage pregnancies and sexual health (as advocated by Brook and fpa), I would suggest the following guidelines:

1 Above all we must not criminalise young drivers or make them feel guilty;

2 Driving is a normal and pleasurable activity enjoyed by many adults: why should we be so hypocritical as to impose a ban on young adults enjoying this as soon as they are p[hysically able to reach the controls?

3 Remember, preaching won't work: simply saying don't drive fast is not realistic;

4 It is natural for young men to wish to drive fast, show off, and be aggressive - and therefore wrong to punish them for, or make them feel bad about, these natural tendencies; it might harm their self-esteem!

5 We should be issuing free crash helmets to all young people who want them, regardless of whether they have a licence, and regardless of age (crash helmets have been proven to save lives...) Denying them this simple safety precaution is tantamount to criminal neglect.

6 Above all we should educate young people on how to drink-drive safely, how to handle corners at high speed and so on, and offer all this education without being at all judgemental. Let's teach safe (or at least safer) driving to all from the age of 10 onwards, when these desires might start in some...

Breast is best (but don't tell!)

From ‘The Times’ the other day...

In a study of mothers commissioned by The Infant and Dietetic Foods Association (IDFA), Dr Lee found that the decision to bottle feed was a "pragmatic decision based on personal circumstances".
"Some do it because of the pain of feeding or so they can feed their child at more regular intervals, some so they can share responsibility for feeding the baby, others because they are thinking of going back to work.
"Many mothers feel an immense sense of guilt and failure when they move on to the bottle, and this latest debate about advertising is likely to make them feel even worse."

This seems to me to typify so much that is wrong with our society. Despite all the medical evidence that breast-feeding is the best option - not forgetting common sense and the emotional bonding aspect too - we must not tell people this simple truth as it may upset them when they put their own convenience above the well-being of their children...

Friday, 3 August 2007

Sail Camp

The kids are a way for a week at sail camp. So at last I have time to update this blog. Ant is one of the instructors (RYA qualified) the other three are learners. They have had a great week in terms of weather, and will doubtless return exhilerated and exhausted. Meanwhile Anna and I have had a lovely time: our first week with no kids to look after for 16 years (we've had one weekend away alone but that's all in all that time) So we've done a lot around the house and garden in the mornings, and taken each afternoon off to go for long walks, ending with a pint in a pub and ne need to get home at any particular time. Bliss.

A Bit of a gap

It has been a while since I posted and lots has happened, about which I may or may not post eventually. the gap was maily because life was busy and blogging is not the top priority for a counter cultural father...

It was compounded by my forgetting my account details due to not blogging for a while and having to get those helpful chaps from Google to sort me out.