Category: Sarah

Dream Diary – Mouse Aethelflaed (by )

I dreamed of the Anglo-Saxon Queen Aethelflaed, I dreamed of her in flowing linen in bold cuts with gold glinting and shield in hand, she was a warrior, she was strong with a purposeful stride and... she was a mouse. All those historical intrigues I had fallen asleep reading about where there with Danes and Viking hoards and ancient Iron Age earthworks cracked open for battle restbite. This was a nodal saga digging deep into the mythos of my mind with mist swirling to hide armies and lands that are firm grasslands now being mires and swamps with island towns between.

But everyone was a mouse or hedgehog or otter (especially the vikings though also they were ferrets) and Gloucester Cathedral loomed into view with a statue of it's founder on a plinth except it was again a mouse - and I realised I was in Loamhedge in the books of Redwall and things made much more sense - books I read again and again. Books my dad has read to me and then to my children, books I begged the scifi library at college to get. It was all mushed together and there was a quest and it was like the stories of knights but more like the thread of the story that those glittering escapades had been threaded onto. There was something of Robin of Loxley with his hood there and something Arthurian. Dragons even slept beneath the hills.

The quest involved a cure for a plague, a plague that had laid the Roman Empire bare and had and would again sink empires in despair, two roses I had to find with my own mousy paws and little whiskered noise but not just any rose - The Sister Roses that grew at Deep Poole. I knew the place - how could I not it was a fusion of Welsh lakes I have known - one found with my husband on the flanks of the mighty hill of Snowdonia, scarred and coloured with the metals of said hill. Beautiful blues that mark its taint and the cave that is barred in the mountain wall. The other was something from childhood - a half remembered place important to my family. A place I think of even in waking as Deep Poole though I do not know what it's name is.

It is the place where my nan insisted on traveling all the way from her new home in the outskirts of London to bring her children, as part of taking them home, to her real home though it no longer really existed, a little village lost to the damp and progress of the modern world. It was hidden in the hills of South Wales - in many ways a very different land from those of Snowdonia. She took us there when ever we were in Wales with her, the waters were still and quiet cupped in an almost circle and they were dark and deep and icy and they called, whispering to you.

The lake in my dream was a combination of these two, with a weir pummelling the escaping waters into white and deadly froth. An unnaturally seeming bank rose from the lake surrounding it's dark blueness, cupped within and hiding, up on the rise over looking it was a ruin, a window so moss covered that it could have been a brick build, or tin or hewn from the very mountain side. This was a sheep grassed grass land on the steps of the mountains, trees loomed at the edge and it was all concentric circles like a labyrinth with curves and twists and somehow I knew that this was a story and that it was looping in on itself. There were desperate men there that should have been guarding the lake, instead they had been drinking holy waters and had become soul sick.

One had appointed himself king and stood taller than us with a crown glinting on his head, it was a tarnished crown and the jewels had been acid etch to a dullness, his features showed a mouse like snout but upon his back where leathery wings and in his mouth sharp incisors like a predator. He howled at us and wanted to keep us for himself but we fought him until a tin thin corroded sword pierced his belly and he fell screaming into the lake. We tried to retrieve him whilst his soldiers flittered around in unease but though he swam to avoid being pulled down into the dark heart of the lake he refused our help and was pulled into the weir where we were sure he could not survive.

He emerged retched and bleeding the other side, his wings were lost and he shivered with spasms of pain, we nestled him and cooed to him in his dying day and his people flocked around us murmuring about the Christs Blood and the Goddesses Tears and how they could save though his wings had been been ripped from his back. Without them he really was just an over sized mouse and we felt a kinship for him now that we had not before - the waters had cleansed him. One of his men told us of the boxes of remnants or possibly a drum or was it a cup? What ever it was it had been hidden by the lake and it could save him.

We told them what we sort and they shrugged, there were many flowers that grew around the lake the trick was getting to them before the sheep did. We decided to help them look for the healing box or cup that was hidden around the lake, they looked at and dug at the banks of the draining river and went onto the grey stone beach that marked the only accessible shore of the lake, we however climbed, we climbed up the grassy slope to the moss covered building. If there was some sort of healing box it might be in the building, it might just be a first aid kit.

Two types of pale pink roses grew on the window so dilapidated and sorry looking, one was a domesticated bloom, large but not overly and elegant rather than bulbous as some over bred roses can become, the other was a series of smaller blooms, little more than blossom, they were wild but you could see that at some point they had been the same as the larger flower next to them. The sister Blooms. We carefully took one of each bloom and no more - for we would not need more than that and to destroy such a thing... a glorious testament to life itself, growing on decay, the bringer of a future and somehow also the guardian of the past - it seemed an unforgivable thing.

The blooms would cure the plague so we knew they would fix the poor broken bat king and so we took them to him and he smiled and smelled their fragrance and become still... we thought he had perish and that the bats would rip us apart instead they too went still as if waiting expectantly for something. He began to murmur a story... it told of Jesus walking the lands of Albion and of a well in Bristol now hidden beneath a house, it told of miracles and knights and of an object that was divided into four, one for each corner and the foundations of the Earth, of how those objects become different things - containing the maiming iron, or the flesh for the skin, or the piercing spear or a cup of ichor and blood caught so carefully.

To keep the items safe they had each ended up in vastly different places that had been designated before the dark death, hosted by very different people but with a connection and a core that connected them. The roses were planted so as their roots would slowly consume the blood and bring the healing into the world and they were watered with the Goddesses Tears just as she filled the lake, though she was known by some local saints name now, but she was the goddess of the hills and the vallies and she kept all her kindred of the land safe within the rocks and trees. And so it was with these two clashes of culture that the Sister Roses had grown one wild and one as it had always been and both perfect and sublime.

A bird screeched and called and pierced the dream which was sweet in my mouth by now and the morning pressed in on my lids as an alarm replaced the bird, a whirl wind of child eggar to know if was a school day appeared. The book on The Warrior Queen and the local Priory sat next to my pillow and my old hedgehog toy looked at me from a shelf, a glittering stone on a faux leather thong reminds me of games pretending to be princess adventures and fearocious fairies and of course the notes I'd made on holy relics a few weeks ago lay scattered around the room, a stake of Brian Jacques books await a re-read or three and I smile thinking of the old photos in yellow reds of Welsh holidays I got developed for my family and the annual holiday me and my husband would take on the slopes of Snowdon including our honeymoon and I think - that was a strong dream and it is not going to leave me alone and though I can see where it comes from the mystic feeling of it remains and I shall share and so I have.

Happy Day (by )

Yesterday was pretty varied - I went to Laptop Friday Gloucester which is a local business networking/co-working etc... thingy, they were setting up a great creative business workshop run by Louise Jenner, I made price tags out of colouring in sheets for my arty stuff and put it out on display in Cookes, Coffee & Curios including Wiggly Pets ๐Ÿ™‚ I took photos of yet more funky architectural features I found in Gloucester including the guano crying Hermes from the post office and the lovely concrete moulding and mosaic stuff behind Sainsburys, I then worked on some illustrations (sorry can't share they aren't for my own stuff so aren't mine to share!) and went to find/look at books - in the Medieval times books used to be so precious that they were chained down - the book I wanted to look at about medieval stuff is out of print... so was metaphorically chained down and I was very lucky to get a look at it ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks to my friend ๐Ÿ™‚ - also the books I requested had come through so I now have a little light reading to do! Then it was kids off to drama and Al making daal soup for me whilst I sorted out all the bits for my stained glass kids workshop idea (spoiler - it doesn't involve glass but did involve going to Office Outlet) <3

Ruins and Rain (by )

As part of Mothers Day Alaric took me for a walk around the ruins of St Oswald's Priory here in Gloucester - I realised that I had not explored it properly and he decided that that needed to change - in general I like exploring old buildings and plan to do it a bit more this year including more Cuddly Histories as well as the science. This was only part of our walk which also included the industrial run down bits but I've separated them out for now. These photos are not meant to be academic though I really do want to study them more as being a geologist I kind of want to know the full story of each and every stone!

If you want to know more about the history then go here (actually the lovely website I was going to link to seems to have disappeared so I will try and do a write up on the blog at some point), also this year is really important for the Priory and there are going to be all sorts of things happening in and around it this summer due to one of the founders Aethelflaed!

Serious check this woman out - warrior queen and all sorts!

Now to the photos - I am putting them up here as I know several people want to use them for art projects (me included), you are welcome to use them to draw from - if you use the actual photos this is fine for non profit works (though please still credit me) but could you please talk to me for anything else. ๐Ÿ™‚

You can see larger version of the photos by just clicking on them - there will also be a prose-poem type thing at some point but for now this is the photo dump for us artists to be getting on with ๐Ÿ™‚

St Mary's Gloucester (I think) The ruins of St Oswalds Priory Looking through the window St Oswalds Priory Remnants of rooms Gloucester History Wood in stone St Oswalds Priory Gloucester Structures in Stone St Oswalds Priory Clouds Through Stone Gloucester History Buildings within buildings St Oswalds Priory Gloucester Nature reclaiming ruins Gloucester Shapes in the stone St Oswalds Priory Striations in the stone St Oswalds Priory History and Geology Gloucester Roots of like on the decay of ages St Oswalds Gloucester Hidden features St Oswalds Priory Some arches are older than others St Oswalds Patterns and shapes St Oswalds Priory Accidental crenulation St Oswalds Priory Blocks and shapes St Oswolds An arch that was St Oswalds Priory Two ages envisioned St Oswalds Layers of History Gloucester Looking along the ruins St Oswalds Gloucester Regal Ruins St Oswalds Priory Which window is which St Oswalds Priory The angle of ruin St Oswalds Priory Tower through the window St Oswalds Priory Tree through ancient window St Oswalds Priory Alaric examining the stones St Oswalds Priory Gloucester A Little Nook St Oswalds Priory Shapes and Hidden Ages Amongst the Stones St Oswalds Priory Structures within and without St Oswalds Priory Colour and shape History Gloucester A view down the stones Gloucester St Oswalds Priory Shape and Space St Oswalds Priory Stone and structure St Oswalds Priory Ruins through the arch St Oswalds Priory The dark and the light Gloucester Through the arch more arches can be seen St Oswalds Ruins Gloucester St Oswalds Priory Brick and Stone Gloucester History Life's struggle Gloucester St Oswalds Priory St Oswalds through the Gate Graves shape curve and angle St Oswalds Priory Branch and Ruin St Oswalds Priory The Wall and the Branch St Oswalds Fragments of self eaten by time St Oswalds Priory Stone and shape and weathering St Oswalds Priory Shapes cut from stone St Oswalds Pillars and supports St Oswalds Priory Gloucester Rocks and rocks and different rocks St Oswalds Priory

p.s. it kept raining hence the title!

Form more images to draw from you can look through the archive on this blog or check out some of the stuff on my photo and images blog, or look at my Flickr.

A Struggle A Head (by )

Last night we had our worst parents evening yet... it was pretty much as we expected. Mary is lovely, bright, mischievous and struggling except in maths. She loves outdoor learning and has brilliant comprehension levels when things are read out to her.

The school have her as a focus kid for reading but due to cut backs and things they no longer have the teaching assistants and can't give her anymore without depriving the other kids. We are reading with her at home though I don't think the school actually believes that. We've had to stop Jean pointing out what books she was reading at the same age - our not so small little bookworm is struggling with just how different her sister is to her.

Mary also throws her books at me and gets in a rage and informs me that she has no homework and hides her spelling sheets.

She is 7 yrs old and the gap between her and her peers is starting to widen - this is where the self confidence drop could happen and it has taken us ages to get her settled in school because she is a high energy bouncy child. Also stupid bloody SATS is coming and the emphasis on exams and results and testing testing testing is there and it makes me so angry (with the system not the school).

Mary is often giving up her playtime to read - she gets distressed when I tell her at home that she should play in the garden why it is light before homework because she feels the pressure of it but again she is miss bounce so she needs to get ride of all that physical fizz in order to sit and focus. Neither me nor the teacher think giving up playtime is good as it's soul destroying - I was that child sat inside yearning to play.

I look at some of her work and I can't work out what is needed - I don't know what an imperative is... I have a degree from one of the best universities in THE WORLD. Does she really need to know that now? Wouldn't just getting her writing clearly and coherently be best? The curriculum is stifling.

Again the teacher suggested we do bedtime reading with her were we read to her but we already do that - or rather Al does that - due to the head injury I couldn't and so I tend to tell her stories. It's not every night because sometimes it gets too late but it is most nights.

I don't know how to help - she won't sit down to do the booklets like Jean did, she is not a bookworm though she is thirsty for knowledge though she has come to like books in a way that she hasn't before recently - I set up the indoor "fire circle" for stories and had some spoken/improvised and some read out stories over Christmas and we go to the library once a month to fortnightly where she spends ages with the picture books (yes the ones for toddlers). Sometimes she reads them to us, sometimes she makes stories up from the pictures - I was still doing this at 10 yrs of age - I couldn't read properly until I was 12 and already in secondary school and the social implications of that are... not nice.

But I am at a loss as to what to do? Teacher friends and family - suggests are appreciated.

Her teacher suggested that we get up earlier and doo reading then - but we are a) not morning people any of us and b) we already get up at 6 and Al is often struggling with tiredness so to be honest I think earlier mornings would probably make it unsafe for him to drive - Mary often has to have a run around before school and goes to breakfast club not for breakfast but so she can be brighter and more with it at school.

She has never been able to drink or eat cow milk so it's not like I can cut that out and I know that is something that often improves things for kids in her situation.

In her written work both numerical and letter based there are reversals and transportations and not just in one axis - there are Ps where there should be ds and her numbers are often mirror images.

I've asked the school to look into dyslexia - I have dyslexia, ADHD and dyspraxia where the dyslexia is extremely bad. She is still considered a bit young for the tests and things as dyslexic tendencies are thought to only become properly differentiated from general childhood learning mistakes etc... after 8 years of age - I am worried that the damage will already be done if we wait until 8. The school are being very supportive including Mary's odd take on clothing she will and will not wear :/

I debated about blogging this - but part of the problem with these situations is that they get hidden - I know people worry that it could harm a Childs future employability if this sort of thing is shared but really that comes down to something that needs to be drastically changed in our society. If just the suggestion that someone might have had learning difficulties is enough to stop them getting a job then this country really needs to look at itself. And if she does have dyslexia then hopefully she can be supported through the education system - though with the current government I am doubtful of how long there will be support for.

The biggest problem for kids with learning difficulties like this is the confidence crash - this is something I really really hope to avoid but she is in many ways a very shy child anyway. Being dyslexic myself I find it really hard to help her - I can't tell her how to spell a lot of things and we end up looking things up in the dictionary. I have already introduced Scrabble which was a big thing for me with spelling and we are still using the board that my nan gave me. She loves the game - I think she might actually have won the last family game - destroying Al's theory that I always win it. I've given her my little spell check machine that my cousin Ivan gave me when I was doing my GCSE's to help - it has some spelling games and things on it too. But again these are things I have already done - what else is there?

On the plus side she spent her last round of pocket money on an actual chapter book which she has been "reading" in bed - it's a sparkly kitten type book and is actually quiet thick - there are some pictures in it at the beginnings of chapters and things. I hope that the love and want of books will work the same magic on her as it did for me - she is a very clever little engineer and loves puzzles and designing and drawing and is always winning things for her ballet.

Universal Misdirection (by )

This morning is the first morning alone since the miscarriage as Alaric has had to go to work in Cheltenham, I did last night with just me and Mary but mainly she went to bed and I made Christmas cards until Al and Jean came in.

This is a whole day of empty house - so I decided to make more cards - I like making cards. I made it up to my attic, rested, looked through things until I found my crate of card making things... I bought it down stairs - my stomach is now unsurprisingly hurting and cramping up again. I'm not quiet sure what I was thinking, but in my defence it wasn't a heavy crate.

Anyway - I have made lit. hundreds of cards - no idea what I am going to do with them - I want to make more as well. I think I'll just put them out as "pay what you want" at the 2 craft fairs I am doing. And of course we wont have to buy any cards...

Mainly this is a distraction - I am trying not to think too hard whilst on my own. I've finally started my NaNoWriMo and got to 1000 words last night - again I was on my own with Mary in bed and I needed to blot my own thoughts out or rather have them on the perifery where I can think about them but not always feel them.

I still have a living room full of Christmas Craft stuff I'd gotten ready to run workshops with when it all went wrong. The kids and their friends keep randomly making things out of them.

Tuesday I went for my physio/neurology appointment for treatment to do with the head injury. The universe being the universe decided to kick me or attempt to a healiness or something and my physio had chosen that day to announce she was pregnant and going off on maternity leave - not that she needed to announce it what with her little belly.

Then I had to tell her what was wrong and why I hadn't been doing my exercises and why I was having a huge flare up of concussion symptoms. I am not sure who the appointment was harder for but she handled it well and head injury stuff is on a break for a month until I recover from this.

And also it might be aneamia causing alot of the problems so I need to go to my GP and have a review with the head injury team to try and sort things out. I am mucking up numbers again - I ordered the wrong knitting needles that I needed to finish a project off and I order twice as much mega chunky huge wool/yarn to do make Jean's rug with than I need.

But I managed to go for a short walk around the block and to make some food yesterday which is a huge inprovement. This was increadibly important yesterday as they day started pretty roughly with another kick in the teeth from the universe - we have a letter from the hospital for the Dr surgery but I've needed a lot of looking after and there have been alot of things to cancel/book etc... for Alaric to sort out and the up shot is the Dr surgery didn't yet know about me loosing the baby so I get a phone call from a super chirpy midwife congratulating me.

I said. "oh... no"

And obviously they were startled by this - I then explained with my voice getting quieter and higher in pitch. The phone call had woken me up, I had not slept well due to stabbing pains shooting through me. I'd only answered because I thought it would be the person saying the combined ashes had been scattered.

I should have tried to book more bloods then like the physio had told me too but before I could the midwife said she was sorry and didn't know what to say and then said goodbye. I cried. It would have been the day we had the next scan to see if the baby was still growing or was dead so it wouldn't have been a good timing for the phone call what ever.

I'd cried once we left the physio appointment too - I just can't help but think "thank Universe" over this at the moment.

On top of that I am angry at the universe - this means I end up in internet arguments with 50 yr old men who think they know more about the second world war than me. Or that women just plan can't understand strategy etc... Thank goodness my dad doesn't think like this and as he says he's 70!

He's a star and spent an hour on the phone talking to me about military history snippets he'd picked up he thought I might not have heard yet - he is a good distraction - knitting is a good distraction - shame the project is a breast feeding shawl but it was started for this pregnancy or even for me so I think I'm ok with it.

I realise that the two books I was supposed to have out before Christmas are not going to really happen but I have started to prod them a little further towards the finishing line - they were going to be tight anyway and with everything that's happened and me not even really sure of day/week I think it's best to just let the projects complete when they complete.

My inlaws have been wonderful - phoning up from South Africa and Brighton and offering support etc... and friends too - from all the different stages and parts of our lives.

Physically I am getting there (as long as I don't try to do stuff) and emotionally - well I'm a mess but I think that is the healthy thing at this stage - only time will tell on that one.

Can I have Christmas now?

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