Thursday 28 July 2011


Last Sunday, this lovely old hymn by John Kent was quoted.

A refuge for sinners the gospel makes known;
'Tis found in the merits of Jesus alone;
The weary, the tempted, and burdened by sin,
Were never exempted from entering therein.

This refuge for sinners His love did ordain,
In Jesus the Lamb, from eternity slain;
And if God the Spirit reveal this to you,
Take refuge in Jesus, though hell should pursue.

The soul that shall enter in safety shall dwell;
There's no peradventure of sinking in hell;
The oath of Jehovah secures him from fear,
Nor shall the avenger of blood enter there.

Here's refuge for sinners, whose guilt shall appear
As black as the confines of endless despair;
Who, stript of all merit whereon to rely,
Are taught by the Spirit to Jesus to fly.

Should conscience accuse us, as oft-times it may,
Here's blood that can take its defilement away.
In Jesus the Saviour, the sinner shall view
A city of refuge and righteousness too.

I remember singing it, as a teenager, at my Grandparents' church. Wonderful words and the singing was unaccompanied, in four part harmony,with a capable precentor.

It is so good to have been reminded of this hymn and the truths it conveys.
The sermon was from Nahum 1v 7
"The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him."

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Fruit trees

Along with our house, we acquired three apple trees and a greengage tree. All of the apple trees produce cooking apples; Bramleys to be precise. We have had so much fruit. The greengage only fruits on alternate years but one of the Bramleys has produced hundreds of pounds of apples each year.

Obviously, fruit trees don't last for ever. We were also keen to have some eating apples so planted some more apple trees both four years ago and two years ago. Old fashioned varieties which aren't always easy to buy in the shops.

We hope to have a little fruit from these, for the first time, this year. We might have had some earlier if it hadn't been for squirrels and little people. Perhaps, the greatest benefit from these trees may be for future generations.

A long term gardening project but once in place they need relatively little maintenance-the picture shows that we aren't into much garden maintenance! The trees are probably require the least effort of our fruit and vegetables and produce the greatest return.
We are grateful.

It is good to go into winter with a freezer full of fruit.

This is linked to Frugal Gardening 101

Tuesday 26 July 2011


This week's 5-a-Day books are all around summer.

Sadly, I couldn't find the book that I really wanted with Alfie's camping adventure. I have the book but must have misplaced it somewhere. Does anyone else have problems keeping children's picture books in order? The Alfie camping adventure is fun and always leads to acting out parts of the story with a pop-up tent.

Anyway, these are the books:

First, just the summer section from Shirley Hughes' book, Out and about through the year. I love this book of poems, and its illustrations and even quite little children appreciate it.

Jonathan Mark at the seaside by Jacqueline Sibley is an old favourite first published in 1970 by Scripture Union. I remember this being read to my siblings. The pictures are very 1960s.
Hissss by Mick Inkpen is a Kipper book about a hot day-very simple and appreciated by Mr Exuberance.

Wheels by Shirley Hughes is about a city summer.

The lighthouse keeper's picnic by Ronda and David Armitage is yet another lighthouse keeper book with plenty of sun and food!

We've had a bit of a lighthouse theme for a few weeks. This has involved various lighthouse models.
including a rather lopsided version made of cake.
We covered a Swiss roll with icing and added red strips round the side.

Not healthy but memorable!

This is linked to 5-a-Day books which is a great way of sharing books with little ones.

Saturday 23 July 2011


Just a few ideas and thoughts that I have found useful.

The Christian life: Petra from Penned Pebbles has a wonderful  article, Thy righteousness is in heaven. This has a quote from John Bunyan's "Grace Abounding" and is definitely worth reading.

Book: On holiday, last week, I read a fascinating volume with an inauspicious title: "Ladies of the Reformation" by JH Alexander.

The book has a series of short chapters about women of the Reformation including royalty, reformers' wives and three martyrs from the Netherlands. Many of these women were just names before although often names that had cropped up frequently such as Jeanne d'Albrecht, and others, such as the wife of John Knox, I hadn't realised existed.

My copy was a gift from a family member but I understand that the book is sold by
the Christian Bookshop Ossett

Education: Heather from Blogshewrote has written about coaching the writing process.

Library: This is probably only useful for people in and around London but I recently visited the Home School library in Rotherhithe. This has so many books crammed into a tiny space including curriculum materials. I wish that I had visited two years ago!

This is so helpful if you aren't quite sure about a curriculum as books can be taken out for four months and renewed for another four. I've been able to borrow some of the picture books that I needed for Five in a Row as well as books to read over the summer to help with planning.

Enough for now!

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Summer schedule

For the first time, I've decided to have a summer schedule. Very much as a servant and certainly not to prevent us doing other things but for those days when things have to be done around the house and time could be lost.

What do I want to achieve from the summer schedule?

  • structured time for Mr Exuberance. 
  • regular reading time for Miss Belle
  • using time to learn Bible verses
  • teaching the children chores
  • cleaning and decluttering time
  • planning time
  • not getting too exhausted time
This is week one on the schedule.
So far, a useful guide but we haven't kept to it fully. That is probably how it should be. It has meant that in a week where I'm taking people to appointments on four out of five days, we have achieved more than we otherwise might have done.

This is a useful, free resource for little ones and chores. The cards are visual and the chores, except vacuuming are realistic.

Like all schedules it needs tweaking. So much for doing intensive cleaning in the afternoon when a two year old is desperate to help! Sadly, that knocks the reading time in the evening. Still, these moments with the little ones are very precious-more than my reading or the cleaning and the planning will happen somehow!

Tuesday 19 July 2011

5-a-Day-children's choice

This week, having just arrived back from holiday, I hadn't given too much thought to the choice of books so decided to see which books the children would choose from the shelf. They thought that ten would be better than five although I have narrowed the choice down here. In terms of reading, we still seem to be at ten!

Anyway, here is my selection from their ten.

Mr Little's noisy boat by Richard Fowler. This is one of three we have from this series. One of the others in this series was also chose by the children. These have flaps on each page which have to be opened fairly, in turn, by Miss Belle and Mr Exuberance.

Kipper by Mick Inkpen. All five of the children have enjoyed the Kipper books. This is a reassuring book about home.

Gordon in Charge by Jill Newton. A funny story about who is really in charge on the farm and the problems of rivalry.

Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? by Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle. Mr Exuberance loves this book and asks for it several times a day. He can join in with much of the text after so much repetition.

Postman Pat's secret by John Cunliffe. This wouldn't have been my choice as I find it a slightly tedious read (sorry!) but the children have all enjoyed this and Fireman Sam about which I feel the same. Strangely, they seem to have liked this before seeing these on the screen. Perhaps someone can explain the attraction?

Happy reading!

This is linked to 5-a-Day books.

5 a day books

Monday 18 July 2011

Summer in North Wales

We are just back from a week in North Wales sans internet.
There was sea,
 a castle
 and Ty Mawr.

Ty Mawr is the birthplace of Bishop Morgan who translated the Bible into Welsh.

What worked for us this year?

  • Finding a holiday cottage nearish to a church we wanted to attend.

  • Going on holiday before most schools were on holiday.

  • Enjoying the beach and countryside rather than many formal "attractions".

  • Not using the topbox on the car certainly made petrol costs better than in previous years.

Where we could improve

Occupations and snacks for the journey. We did take some favourite books and I heard "The hungry caterpillar" and "Tremendous tractors" more times than I care to think about but we could have done with more for the little ones plus healthy snacks.

The constant enigma
Holidays in the three generation family. Our eldest son stayed at home to look after Grandma which is sort of a solution. We are between this and taking everyone using two cars which means that my husband and I have double the driving and realistically we can't travel too far. Maybe another time we will take everyone but not go far.

Friday 8 July 2011


I never thought that I would write about compost but having seen several posts mentioning starting to make compost, it seemed worth writing about our experience of composting. Ummm, we've been composting about about 10 years now.

Our local council is keen to reduce waste so sells cut price compost bins. We are keen to cut costs so we've brought the cut price compost bins.

Vegetable and fruit waste plus coffee grounds and tea bags go into a little green bucket outside the backdoor which when full is put in a big bin at the end of the garden.

 My husband adds cardboard which apparently adds to the mix and we wait.

A few months later, we have compost. Well, a few months later we have something vaguely resembling compost but it has to be sieved. Unsieved compost contains little twigs, plastic labels that accidentally got thrown in and anything else that didn't decompose. My kind husband does the moving of the bins and sieving- sometimes with help from little people who like dirt.

We buy many fewer bags of compost. We haven't stopped buying compost-more of this later.

We sent less to landfill. Not sure how much as this isn't something we have measured! Probably, 4-6 of the small green buckets a week.

Bit embarrassed about this but it is a common problem. We have had problems with rodents in the big compost bins on a couple of occasions. If we were starting again. we would put wire mesh under the bins.

Home made compost isn't the best for growing seeds. For starters, it has seeds in it. We have had several unexpected tomato plants around the garden. If the new seeds are unfamiliar it can be very difficult to distinguish wheat and tares. This is an especial problem with salad mixes when the seedlings can all look different. We have started buying potting compost for this and reserving our own compost for improving the soil and growing potatoes.

Overall, the pros outweigh the cons and we plan to carry on composting.

This is linked to Frugal Gardening 101.

Wednesday 6 July 2011

For little boys

This is in E Nesbit's "The Story of the Treasure Seekers" and made me smile.

Oh when I wake up in my bed
And see the sun all fat and red,
I'm glad to have another day
For all my different kinds of play.

There are so many things to do-
The things that make a man of you,
If grown-ups did not get so vexed
And wonder what you will do next.

I often wonder whether they
Ever made up our kinds of play-
If they were always good as gold
And only did what they were told.

They like you best to play with tops
And toys in boxes, brought from shops;
They do not even know the names
Of really interesting games.

They will not let you play with fire
Or trip your sisters up with wire,
They grudge the tea-tray for a drum,
Or booby-traps when callers come.

They don't like fishing, and it's true
You sometimes soak a suit or two:
They look on fireworks, though they're dry,
With quite a disapproving eye.

They do not understand the way
To get the most out of your day:
They do not know how hunger feels
Nor what you need between your meals.

And when you're sent to bed at night
They're happy, but they're not polite,
For through the door you hear them say:
"He's done his mischief for the day!"

Tuesday 5 July 2011

5-a-Day books-lighthouses

Miss Belle was keen to "do" lighthouses this week. Not sure that we will get to see the real thing but hopefully, will make a model.

I hadn't planned to "row" a Five in a Row book but The little red lighthouse and the great gray bridge by Hildegarde Swift and Lynd Ward was an obvious choice.
There is so much to explore around this book-looking at why rivers flow was the first with some practical experiments.

We added another lighthouse keeper book, this time, The lighthouse keeper's lunch by Rhona and David Armitage.
I was in one of my favourite charity shops at the weekend and picked up an amazing selection of books including  Little Captain by Claudio Munoz which has a sea theme and a vague lighthouse connection.
We are also booking at an old Ladybird book, The story of Lighthouses, lightships and lifeboats to dip into rather than as part of 5-a-Day.
I'm sure there are many more books about lighthouses for children but at this point I diverged from the theme and chose a couple of books that Mr Exuberance is asking for several times a day.
Duck to the rescue by Jez Alborough is the first.
The other is a lift the flap Duck book, again by Jez Alborough, Duck's Key where can it be?
This is linked to 5-a-Day books.
5 a day books

Monday 4 July 2011

Luther on Galatians

The current Ossett bookclub read is Martin Luther's commentary on Paul's Epistle to the Galatians.
I hadn't read Luther before and this probably isn't something I would have attempted on my own but it is an amazingly fresh read.

Yes, I'm behind and hoping to catch up but some of this is so clear and helpful.
Verse 4 was especially good, referring to the Lord Jesus:
"Who gave Himself for our sins".
Just a few short extracts:

"Let us learn here of Paul to fully and truly believe that Christ was given, not for feigned sins, nor for small, but for great and huge sins; not for few but for many; not for conquered sins (for no man can overcome the smallest sin to put it away) but for invincible sins."

"He (the Lord Jesus) is no caster-down of the afflicted, but a raiser-up of those that are fallen, a merciful reliever and comforter of the heavy and broken-hearted. Else would Paul lie in saying: "which gave Himself for our sins."

Well worth reading so far-now to catch up!