Thank to all our colourful visitors tonight who brightened up the evening. You can't really see, but Noss the dog also had a costume on. She was too interested in the sweet bucket to stay still.
Last night, the scarf was finished and I laid it on my son's bed while he was asleep. He was very impressed by the Fire Brigade turning up at the Community Day and decided to wear his fireman's costume this morning. Of course, he turned his new scarf into a hosepipe, in order to put out imaginary fires in the living room. (This was after inventing the orginal Duck Bread Breakfast Doofer out of lego, which is a steam powered engine that turns out bread for ducks at one end and bread for people at the other, complete with a chimney to 'take the smoke away'. Patent pending.) We tied the 20' scarf bought for Oakdale children from the Scrap Store to one end of his and had a hosepipe then that reached all the way down the stairs. As Kate Wyatt said on the Community Day, the person who knitted the scarf would be very pleased to know how it was being used and how much fun it generates.
I've been researching knitting in general, because I would like to start planning a group for people wanting to give up smoking and take up knitting or other crafts as a means to occupy hands and minds. Not surprisingly, there are Knit to Quit groups springing up all around the country as part of a national revival and a reflective look at the good things from our heritage.
One person had commented on South African charity KasCare's website, so I took a look at the site and was moved by the aims of their projects, which are as simple and profound as knitting squares for children with HIV and other care needs around the globe. KasCare stands for 'Knit a Square' and their knitting is 'an act of compassion and an expression of love'.
For more information and comments from people who are struggling with smoking and learning to conquer their addictions through knitting, try these links:
Please get in touch if you are interested in this project idea. To follow a knitting pattern from KasCare, go to http://www.knit-a-square.com/support-files/knitted-garment-kathys-cozy-jumper.pdf (other patterns are on their website but this looked like one of the easiest.) They have details on the page of how to send knitted squares, jumpers and vests over to South Africa. Please let us know if you make something for them!
email@example.com or phone 07 546 568 044.
I have been put right as to the proper name of our cat. His full appellation is:
Meeowie Billy Spanky Nigel Pooky Alexandra Reeves (aka Sandra when my step-son is around.)
Answers to Pooky at home and Meeowie at the vets. One of the reasons I first went out on a date with my husband is that he had a cat called Meeowie. Sad, but true.
I was finishing off my son's scarf yesterday when one of his friends stopped by. They both sat on the arm of the sofa by me, one through fascination at the process of knitting and one in case he was getting a raw deal on attention. Both of them have asked me to teach them how to knit. Added to the cheeringly positive response when I asked some of the Oakdale Poets if they wanted to have a poetry and gardening club, we could soon have the world's first poetry, gardening and knitting club. Help me out here if you can think of a name. "Oakdale Diggers" was the name I thought of for the club, when it encompassed merely gardening. It's still all in the conceptual phase until we get somewhere to garden, knit or rhyme. It does go to show though what a creative, original bunch of children we have.
I have found a pattern for a hat, now that I'm branching out into more daring forms of knitwear. What attracted me to this one is the requirements for a cat helper (optional) and wine, which I like the idea of, but unfortunately it doesn't like me. It does explain where I've been going wrong with my knitting though and why I do the stitches too small. The tension is not right. For one, I keep pushing my cats off my knee as they do indeed keep trying to help and for another, I drink tea instead of wine. To do Crazy Aunt Purl's pattern (link below) though, I will also need some "Size 11 double-pointed needles of death (not too scary)" and re-runs of Friends to "...offset bad Brangelina Karma". I wonder if you can substitute cake for the wine?
Maybe I should try a tiny scarf for Murph, who is my cat, before being so adventurous. I can do scarves now and Murph (aka Wiggle) has had a bald spot on her neck since kittenhood and it's not improved throughout her night time roaming days when I put a collar on her. She too is hibernating, but does make the occasional foray out into the wind and weather. As she is a venerable 15 now, surely she deserves a little protection from the elements. This is a photo of our other cat, just so he doesn't get jealous, known variously as Meeowie Billy Alexander Spanky Pookie Reeves, aka Sandra, on one of his night's in Pelsall, Walsall. He always used to disappear on Friday and Saturday nights, allegedly to go clubbing, but in later years, when we moved to the centre of Walsall, which is a splendid place, he took to Bingo instead. If I carry on knitting with him as an accessory, he might make it up to the Lydney W.I.
We have just been to Coleford, which is a lovely drive through the Forest this time of year, particularly if you get 'a bit lost' on the way home to give small ones a chance to catch up on sleep. It didn't work, but if you avoid the random sheep and stray lorries, it's lovely anyway.
We went to make contact with Yvonne, who is doing a stellar job of setting up Lydney's own Food Bank with the Tressel Trust. You may have heard them on the news recently, highlighting the food shortages caused by the current economic conditions. I am interested in helping out to learn more about how they organise things. One of our aspirations is to have a community garden one day, where members can grow their own fruit, veg and flowers (e.g. lavender for craft projects) and give a tenth of the produce as a fresh Food Bank. Going along once a month on a Saturday seems like a great way to get to know the folk there who are making it happen and Yvonne has offered help and advice for our projects. I have found that this is one of the great things about living in the Forest. People are very willing to share their ideas and help out. Kate Wyatt at the FoDDC has helped a great deal simply by putting us in touch with like-minded groups. It's an important and valuable part of their work at Community Engagement.
After seeing Yvonne and getting my forms into her, I took my son up to Coleford Library, where more of the FoDDC team, the Street Wardens, were running a joint project with library staff. The children had a demo of how to catch a stray dog safely - with the Bookstart Bear standing in for the dog. Then they heard some more about the work of the Street Wardens, who do a huge variety of work, including coming down to Oakale in the summer to organise a play afternoon for our children. They were supposed to leave at 3.30pm and ended up (with tea and biscuits) staying in the September sunshine until 5pm. They have recruited one young man for their team when he is available for work experience. He will do a great job for them, I'm sure. He is a young entrepreneur who has started his own business making cake stands, taking after his artistic mum.
The library staff had laid on some fantastic crafts for children and we now possess a bug mask, complete with fly eyes and fuzzy pipe cleaner antennae - the theme being 'Litter bugs'. The children had a chance to try and throw rubbish into the library bin from a distance and make a beautiful dragonfly with sweet papers. Lots of sticky, happy children and we even got a book out.
Then back through the Forest and home to Lydney, which is becoming home now, after 2 years here from 1st November for the little and I. His dad stayed behind in Walsall to decorate our rented (Bromford) house from top to bottom so we could return it in perfect condition. When we came down to Oakdale, we felt so homesick because all the fittings were so similar! We never thought we would be able to buy a house here and it was only through the generousity of friends and family that we did. Then our sale fell through four times or so and we had two weeks wihout anywhere to live, but once again, kind friends took us under their wing. But here we are now with a roof over our heads (good job - marquees and tents are all very well, but not in gales), and this afternoon, Kate's boss phoned to talk about an obesity group. She has obviously been reading about the Oakdale Cake Festival at the weekend...what are you trying to say, Tess? :-)
I'm looking forward to seeing how Oakdale develops this year. It's been wonderful getting to know new neighbours here. As we develop project ideas, I will put information about them on the Community Events page or expand the website, with the committee's say so. If you have your own ideas, we would love to hear them and have a meeting on Saturday with an open forum so that you can come and meet us and have a say in how we grow. Hopefully one day we will be deciding what to grow as well!
I have temporarily emerged from hibernation, after eating enough cake to safely last the winter, to finish knitting the scarf that I started for my son and to cook his dinner. As well as the Oakdale Cake Festival yesterday, we had cake this morning in church to celebrate a 60th wedding anniversary (congratulations, Barbara and Tudor) and an engagement (felicitations, Revd Suzanne and Steve). Our baby bear came home on a sugar and fizzy pop high and only consented to refrain from zinging about the house like one of the bubbles from his lemonade when we put a Thomas the Tank DVD on and he curled up on the sofa with me.
Knitting is one of the things I am allowed to do, as long as it involves knitting something for him. Writing blogs is not, neither is playing the piano, unless I allow a small pianist to come and sit by me and improvise. School days have their advantages for mums as well, but he didn't have a great start. He came home every day for the first three weeks with small round bruises on his shins until we learned that it was from being kicked by boys in his class. A trip to see the head and a week later, with daily propaganda from the school that all was well and I began to hope that he was starting to make friends outside of these boys, who puzzled him and made him want to be their friend. On the way home one day he said to me that he wanted to be friends with everyone, but not everyone wanted to be friends with him, but that he would love them anyway, all the time. (This is something I tell him when we are having a post-tantrum debrief and building up our trust and bond again.)
It would be wonderful, wouldn't it, if I could embue this scarf, which he will take into the playground with him, with powers of protection in the manner of Dangermouse's cloak ("My wings are like a shield of steel!" If you remember that, your birthdate is vintage as well as mine.) They keep tying trying to persuade the newbies at school to do without their cuddly toys. He asked me to tell the teachers that his two mice, which have become a necessary part of our morning routine to ensure they are making the trip to school, "Let me know that you love me." Is it necesssary, at four, to part them from such reminders of home? Is four altogether too early for life lessons in self-defence? In Poland, they start school at six and it has not done any harm whatsoever to the women I know from there, who are both highly intelligent and excellent mothers.
It's tempting, isn't it, to find the perpetrators of the bullying or their parents and tell them how we are feeling. I've been told that I can be scary. I once shouted at a gang of feral dogs in Serbia, abandoned after the war, who attacked a friend, her daughter and their dog Djina on an island in the Dunav. Thankfully, they believed me and went off after five minutes of teaching them some English as a Foreign Language in my loudest voice. Sanja said, "I've never heard you shout that loud before." "That's because I haven't, " I replied. Actually, I just feel sorry for those boys, who will try bullying techniques so prevalent in this country, and who will one day discover that they have missed out on so many opportunities to make friends. I do think it's amazing (though naturally I am biased) for a four year old to say he will still love them. Now that's supernatural power. I will also pray (and have prayed) for the same angels that watched over him when his life hung in the balance as 3lb 1oz baby to be with him, but he has understood the power of love already.
In Zimbabwe, there is a story about a farming family being attacked by terrorists. This is close to home, because my husband grew up during those times. A child on the neighbouring property was murdered in a most horrific way along with her family. Terrorists came to Gary's farm and the servants said, "Please don't murder our family. They are good to us." The farmers in the story returned fire, then saw that the terrorists were leaving suddenly. A while later, they were captured and asked why they had just given up and gone. They said that an army of huge warriors had appeared from nowhere and terrified them. Supernatural powers of protection belong to the angels and to all those who love beyond the barriers of an incubator, or school gates, or prison walls, or a renegade nation made an international pariah.
Love conquers all.
With the impending storm forecast, we have cancelled plans to go away and have battened down the hatches in the Reeves house. We are still drying things out and sorting out damage from the last one. Cake is fairly high on the agenda, as we are baking thank you presents with the extra eggs we bought and didn't use last Saturday. So far, I've done a Victoria sponge cake, there's a chocolate cake in the oven and Mr Reeves is making chocolate brownies with a packet mix for himself and the second youngest member of the Oakdale Links team. I took care of the cake mixture left in the bowl out after consulting with the Safety Officer and writing an appropriate risk assessment. Fortunately, the Safety Officer grew up in Zimbabwe, so isn't too particular about such things and doesn't like food to be wasted, so I recycled it into some extra energy to write a blog and have a cup of tea. (You will be aware by now if you are a regular reader that one of the abiding principles of Oakdale Links is that there is not enough cake in the world and we should take all opportunities to rectify that.)
As we are saving money by not going away, I've also bought two DVDs for later - Les "Let them eat cake" Miserables and Anna Karenina. That's our day sorted, then - unless the tree blows down onto the roof or hail stones smash the car window.
The Safety Officer has just suggested making a coffee cake for us and letting the small person eat the Brownies. Now there's an idea.
"Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of chocolate cake?
It is the music of a people
Who are oft inclined to bake.
When the beating of the eggs
Echoes the beating of the drum
It is a world about to start
When the timer's done."
Isn't this a great title for the piece of origami in the YouTube clip on the home page?
Normally, I wouldn't even attempt origami. I have tried in the past and always get hopelessly confused. Unlike the rest of the family, I struggle to cope with three dimensional work. (Like his dad, my son is already a great engineer and at 4, follows lego instructions better than me.) I found this so easy though, because the instructions are so clear and can be paused. Also, the young instructor doesn't assume that just because you did a fold on one side, it doesn't mean you can extrapolate and do the same on the other sides! That's my level of difficulty. Why don't you have a go and then decorate your hearts with glitter, buttons or anything else for the Oakdale Christmas Tree for this year's Christmas Tree Festival at St Mary's? It's on the 7th December, if you want to put it in your diaries.
Here is a photo of last year's, which had groups from all over the town bringing their own unique and creative interpretations of the theme. This year, the theme is, "The Light of Love". St Mary's is a Grade I listed medieval church, so is a perfect backdrop for the sparkling lights of the trees, which get reflected in the sheer glass front of the Bathurst Chapel. Come and see!
I can feel the winter blues setting in, despite the sunshine today, so I applied my usual remedy - moving all the furniture round in the living room. I don't know why this helps. Maybe it just gives me a different perspective. Or a sore back. Anyway, I should be able to see the telly a bit better tonight. My eyes are finding it harder these days to instantly shift from close work (knitting currently) and seeing our 10" telly from a distance.
Last night I watched the BBC4 history program about the Medieval Church, as I want to write a play about the history of St Mary's. It has gone through some amazing times in our history. I knew the theory that there was no protestant church or Church of England before the Reformation (Henry VIII having what is known in our house as a mega-strop about the Roman Catholic adherence to no divorce. He didn't do things by halves.) That means that St Mary's used to be a Catholic church, as it pre-dates the Reformation considerably, having parts of it built in the 13th century.
Last night was the episode on death and how the medieval world viewed life on earth as a tiny part of the eternal story. It still is, of course, but it goes against the grain these days to admit it. The summary they gave said that wealthy people had the advantage on earth, but were concerned about certain things that Jesus had said concerning the difficulty of entering heaven if you were rich. Therefore, they built hospitals and did good works in order that the poor beneficiaries would say masses for them and speed them on their way through Purgatory - the half way house between heaven and hell. The rich needed the poor for the afterlife and the poor needed the rich to help them in their life on earth. It was a symbiotic relationship.
Rain is coming. Better get the washing in.
I was going to write a blog now, as the Internet is so much faster in Lydney at midnight, but I suddenly got too tired.
PS Did you see the Review today? If you have a spare copy, pop it through a letter box on Oakdale please. It's not delivered here. It could be your Random Act of Kindness for the week.
Family washing is on hold for the week as I sort out the storm damage from the weekend. We had prepared a craft activity for everyone to join in, making bunting that we were planning to use at the Community Day and future events. It was strewn all over the Green by the storm, in the mud and sand from the paths and is all tattered and torn now because I stuck it all in the washing machine. It has come out nicely blended, with the greens and blues creating a previously absent harmony of colour and reflecting the watery theme to the end of the day. In this particular washing load, I found my son's old cloth baby book, given by a friend when he was very small. The story starts with a man called Noah and ends with a rainbow.
Some might say I am crazy to bother with washing scraps of bunting, and should have chucked it all in the bin but for one thing, we paid for it (and the rest of our items in our trolley from the Scrap Store) for the community and for another, the tattered remnants are now part of the history of Oakdale and should hang alongside future pristine and neatly-edged pieces of cloth in the bunting. It will remind me and I hope others of a great day, full of commmunity spirit which was not in the least snuffed out by the storm that ended it, but actually started to turn from a spark to a small flame, which I hope will grow as we go on together.
It's a good job I didn't put candles in the pumpkins....
My funniest moment of the day was when I found one of the team skulking by our garage and asked him to fill the fire bucket with sand and put it out for cigarette butts. He turned his hand towards me to reveal the cigarette he was hiding and said, "I'll just put this out first."
The team: what stars! And we found a few extra along the way. Thank you everyone for a wonderful day.
Hello! I am the editor of this website. I moved to Lydney in November 2011 with my husband and son and we have been living on Oakdale for two years now. It's an interesting time to move here, so I set up this website to encourage community links between and within the old and the new in Lydney and to try and help create a stable and happy community.