Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Betwixt and Between

What to do when you have taken several but none are really any good at all.... Time to get creative then. This was from last night, she was showing signs of fatigue so I just let her choose whatever came to hand from the bookshelf. The book is far too easy for her to read nowadays but somehow it brought about a very childish revisit of when she could not read so well. We did the baby talk and I asked her if she could remember not being able to read, told a few stories about different books we use to read together. And then she crashed out.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Practice pieces

Lewis is making steady progress with his Stage 3 guitar in school, and is also doing a band rendition of a Bob Marley's Buffalo Soldier with a few friends as a music assignment. The following music clips are mainly for his study purposes...

Banjo Bill - Gary Ryan

Menuet - Gary Ryan


  Buffalo Soldier by Chris Arpad

  Bob Marley - Buffalo Soldier cover (Jonas Kaas moombahton mix) by Joe Goose

  Daniel Mora - Buffalo Soldier by RFSAudio 
Three different covers of Buffalo Soldier above and below the real thing which sadly was only published after he'd died.

And finally my favourite news headline of the day will provide inspiration I hope for any aspiring writer (Greg?) ....

Monday, November 28, 2011


Greg has been out at Cubs this evening and he came back with the shield for the 'Best Six' which is awarded for winning most points in thier group activities. Normally it's the Sixer who gets the trophy home, but Greg's friend Cameron is leaving the area so the leader's role is up for grabs. Will Greg get put in charge, stay tuned for future updates...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Self portrait

Lewis and I have been labouring with a work party at the Scouts Hut today, doing general repairs to the fabric. They are very lucky to have a huge building right on the shore with it's own beach and boat pound. But that also means a lot of looking after! Lewis was clearing brambles and other nasty undergrowth that was trying to reclaim several of the boats to nature, whilst I was replacing weather boarding from some slightly rickety mobile towers. I am not going to be taking up a career change any time soon.

Miranda and Greg were drawing when we got back, and couldn't resist a quick snap of them in action.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Joker

Greg has been reading to me from the Adventure of the Cursed Ruby this evening. We are trying to get more emphasis in his speech and it's quite difficult when he's enjoying his read, and falling over himself with the story to get him focused on the delivery!

He's also been showing off his card tricks, another of his favourite pastimes.

Lewi's been sailing all day in conditions that he described as a bit bloomin windy. I can only concur, as I came back from my bike ride feeling exhausted. The lovely autumn colours are mainly gone and the murky mix of browns is the main feature...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Last Orders

Miranda turned up in the kitchen this morning wearing her costume for the Nativity play in school. She is the Innkeeper, and has been rehearsing her lines, and gestures and songs all week. As soon as I'd taken the photo she wanted me to email the photo to her teacher,'ll just have to show her the blog then Miranda!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Away with Miranda's imagination

This image belongs a few days ago and came as a direct response to the pictures I made of the toadstool. Miranda does some absolutely beautiful pencil sketches, when she's got a subject firmly in mind.

Tonight we've been reading Paddington Bear, and predictably hootering and hollering as the story unfolds. We've been reading shorter more straightforward book at bedtime mainly with Miranda so she can practice but every now and again we just have fun...

Inspiration for Lewis - Al di Meola - Mediterranean Sundance and then some lessons on how to play it!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Was playing around with some illustration techniques and quite liked this. Has a sort of expressive quality that reminds me of Miranda a lot. As we speak she's hacking away in her sleep, as she's suffering a bit of a cough. I went up to her earlier to take her to the loo, and she had plastic bottles, a large piece of rope, books and dolls all wrapped up in her bed with her.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Close to the edge

Heading towards the sunset on Bournemouth beach yesterday, and the kids were still in possessing of some energy. Makes me smile this as Lewis would normally be chasing them to the ground, but instead he's the old boy watching their exuberance take hold. I always used to think Bournemouth was a bit boring, but there's quite an atmosphere on the prom in winter; factor in the sound of the sea and a sunset as big as the sky... and you might walk all the way to Poole.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Been out for a walk around Wilverley Enclosure this morning, there was a nice mist to start and then the sun broke through. We had a picnic on the Plain overlooking Rhinefield and then headed over to Bournemouth to had an afternoon making Victorian connections for Greg. He was lucky enough to find a timeline connecting the Russell-Coates activities to the Victorian era, as well as plenty of other stuff like the pier. Bournemouth of course is a Victorian town coming of age with the arrival of public transport in the nineteenth century.

The sun was setting as we came out of the Russell-Coates and we walked down to Poole, the the sky glowed red over Swanage.

Dinner at Thai Smiles in Boscombe was first class.... if a little spicy for Miranda.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Flight of fancy

Quite an amazing thing happened today when we were out for a walk in the woods. Miranda heard a voice from the bushes and when we looked for the source we found some fairies dancing underneath a toadstool. Had I not seen it with my own eyes I may not have believed it!

It's been the most perfect of autumnal days here in the New Forest, still and bright, beautiful colours and wildlife everywhere. Miranda spotted about a dozen deer on our walk, who allowed us to come so close they may well have been tame. She told me afterwards that she really likes deer now...

Lewis has been sailing with Terry and Kyle in the Flying Fifteen on the Beaulieu River today. He got himself out of bed made us a cup of tea and was packed and gone by 9AM.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Screeching pixies

Miranda had a few friends around for a birthday tea after school, and her chosen theme for the cake was toadstools and fairies.

The characters were procured at a tabletop sale recently and Mum has been making and icing the cake all day.

By bedtime she was fairly worn out, but still able to read me Good Will Hunting, whilst I nearly nodded off myself!

We had a delivery of logs earlier and I can't blame the exertion of putting them all in the log store for the fatigue as Lewis did most of this for me when he got home from school. Needed to remind him that he did want to go sailing on the weekend, didn't he!

The story of the blues - link for Lewis since we were talking about slide guitar and the bottleneck!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

One man and his (someone else's) dog

I was looking for a picture of Lewis, and although I had a few portraits that had not seen the light of day, thought this was one that described him well.

Taking a stroll, highly independent, out in front.

I'm listening to Canonball Adderley Quintet playing Plus on Riverside; with brother Nat on cornet, Sam Jones on bass, Louis Hayes on drums, Victor Feldman on vibes and Wynton Kelly on pian.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The rough and the smooth

George is a very large pot bellied pig with a fearsome grunt, and enormous teeth. I mention this only as a way of introducing Miranda's casual relationship with the animals at Barry's field nowadays. There was a time when she used to scream when the animals even came close.

To be fair she is still nervous of Alice the vicious goat, and with good reason.

Miranda keeps asking if she can go and milk Daisy again, so we must pull our finger out. It would make a great Blog Caption "Miranda the Milk Maid"

I'm listening to George Kawagushi's The Big 4 on the Three Blind Mice Label. Some rare groove Japanese Jazz.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's fantastic, I'm made out of plastic

It's always good when I've managed to post a picture of the boys, because I can then post (another) one of Miranda without fear of criticism for a lack of balance!

This one taken on the weekend after Lewis had finished his sail training, and we had a walk around Calshot Cats boatpark. Lewis was checking them all out for the most rad trapeze harnessing and platform extensions, but Mip was happy to choose this cat for entirely different reasons.

Greg has been telling me all about his astronomy classes in school earlier so I've been telling him about the project we pitched for ten years ago to design and build the Spaceport visitor centre in Liverpool, and met the man responsible for the National School's Observatory

Monday, November 14, 2011


Didn't actually post a picture of the boys on the weekend, although we were all very proud of their contribution to the Remembrance Sunday Parade in Hythe. This was as they set off from home, Lewis representing the Sea Scouts, and Greg the Cubs.

Tonight Greg came back from Cubs to tell us that he's been promoted to Seconder in his 'Six'.The thought of Gregory nearly being in charge is very scary....

Sunday, November 13, 2011

On Topper d'world

Lewis has rather fortunately had two days sailing this weekend. Yesterday he was able to race in both sessions at Calshot, where he finished 3rd and tenth. The third place was his best finish yet and he came home with a big smile on his face.

This morning after doing the Remembrance Sunday parade in the village with Gregory, Kyle and the other scouts he was offered another chance to go sailing again by Terry.

So this afternoon they have had some sail training with Andy Sutton, and Lewis has learned some new tricks...

musical link for the day is a cello player / singer called Ayanna Witter-Johnson that I think I've name checked before... check out 'Roxanne' at the very least.

Read more here

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Animals bed time on Saturday

Today's post is written by Miranda

This is me with Domino the Donkey. i have been riding him arawnd Barry's field this afternoon with Dad. After I helped put the animals to bed. I rounded up the chickens, and the goats and fed the alpacas. Then I had a go at milking Daisy the goat in the milking shed. Her udders felt really soft, and we got half a buckwet of milk. I stroked George the Pig, who was hiding in his shed.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bad to the Bone

Well it's the weekend again, so let's go climb a few trees! Let's forget just briefly about all the irritation and distractions that life throws at us, and focus on having a bit of fun. Greg asked for some sympathy this morning after enduring some harassment in a familiar context. What advice do you give, turn the other check, walk away - or deal with it once properly? I know what I've always done, but it's not so easy when you are giving advice...

I'm listening to Erik Friedlander's Badbone - avant garde jewish jazz meets bluegrass, somewhere out on the plain...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pizza con funghi

Slightly self conscious as she offers me pizza at the parlour in Matley Wood. She's getting to that age when she starts to become aware that we are playing games with each other, rather than just doing it...

A few days ago I gave her a rather short cuddle at bedtime. She asked me why she was getting less than usual, and when I explained I was not very happy she asked me if it was because of what had happened earlier.... Yes I said, it makes me unhappy. "I thought so...." then she gave me a very tight hug, and just when I thought she was going to say sorry said " can go now...!"

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

sk8r boy

Greg and Miranda have been playing lots of making games recently, with both Lego and K'Nex. Didn't have a picture of the K'Nex action however so this with have to be the one.

Mipp very determined with her reading this evening. Very challenging words, and she didn't baulk at one of them. When she's fired up she can make a reasonable job of almost anything. It's quite amazing to watch her sizing up silent letters or letter groups whislt she takes a few seconds to work it out...

Music clip below for Lewis (mainly) but please enjoy! Christian McBride on bass with Sting revisiting a classic from his first solo album "Dream of the Blue Turtles"

Christian McBride with Sting - Consider Me Gone from Mack Avenue on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Day dream believer

When he was younger he only seemed to have one expression; that exuberant, happy, smiley face. Capable of convincing you that there was nothing that it could not overcome.

He uses it less often these days, and like a clown off duty you start to see the the occasional anxieties and disappointments come to the surface.

I was looking at a photo last night as I edited a few a few snaps from a while ago, where Greg was crying after some major disappointment. I used to try quite hard to make the blog have a gritty hard edged reality, but sometimes I don't have the energy for too much truth...

Jazz Link of the Day! If you'd like to listen to any of the concerts at Newport Jazz Festival 2011 - following the links here There's loads of great music including Steve Coleman, Hiromi, Ravi Coltrane, Charles Lloyd etc etc....

Monday, November 07, 2011

Liam and Noel?

Greg has also started guitar lessons now as well in school, and since we've been trying to get them to co-operate more often thought that the Jolly Sailor with accompaniment would be the way to take it forward (a step or two). Quite pleased that there was some progress, if not complete harmony. One day they might be Simon and Garfunkle, or will be more like Gallagher brothers - who knows?

Just listening to Jason Moran 'Modernistic', the track is Gangsterism on a Lunchtable - absolutely brilliant album...

This clip from the Tribes on a clunky old bar room piano is definitely worth a watch / listen

Jason Moran Live at Tribes in NYC
Sunday May 29 2011 5-7pm
15 dollars at the door
Limited seating RSVP

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Hand on the Tiller

Nothing ominous at first sight, until you hear that high pitch screeching of Miranda announcing that she's steering the boat (which also means accelerating the boat) with two other children in the boat.

Also in the boat is Gregory and Kyle acting as Safety Boat for Lewis who is elsewhere sailing up the Beaulieu River.

It's been a very pleasant afternoon with very little traffic other than ourselves, so a good chance to experiment with a few things - and fortunately no mishaps to report. Just a very cold wind to remind us that summer sailing is no more...

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Christmas is a comin'

Picture of our Christmas cake at the construction stage. For some reason Miranda doesn't seem to be wearing it all over her face, that must have come later.

It's now been cooked and is being fed with various liquid nourishments.

Miranda showed me a picture of a cake that she'd like to have made for her birthday. It's an igloo with penguins dancing around outside. I'm not sure whether there's any cake within the vast acreage of icing, but it's not my idea of a tasty morsel....

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The way ahead

Something of the Gregory Crewdson about this image of (our own) Gregory. It's all in the lighting and the ambiguous sense of something about to happen that creates a narrative for me. He might be watching a spacecraft hovering overhead, but knowing Greg, it's probably just a ball!

Greg has been reading the Indiana Jones series of stories, so we've been getting edited episodes from him at mealtimes. Sometimes you can't separate him from his doorstop books, other times like tonight he just wants to fall into bed and have a cuddle before going to sleep!

I'd just like to give a little plug for Treacletart a newly re-established blog dedicated to the more important things in life

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Sketch Up

"Guess what I'm drawing a picture of Dad?"

"It looks like you on the beach at Calshot, ...with Bouncer throwing stones in the water. And is that a Buzz and a Topper racing, which one is Lewis in?"

And bold as brass Lewis replies "I'm in the Fireball, and you can't see me because I've already crossed the Finish Line!"

Ever wanted to get a closer look at certain paintings but were too afraid to get arrested by the security guards?