Tuesday, 27 April 2010

In which we wonder what is the purpose of exams, and why there's so much slate in my garden....

Well spring has finally sprung here in Pembrokeshire and life is as busy as ever.  Thought it was about time (or perhaps a bit overdue) to sit down and have a quick update on some of the things we have been up to!

With the good weather I've been trying to get our little garden going, and it really does seem to be taking up a disproportionate amount of time.  Trying to create something attractive but also productive is pretty tricky in such a small space but we have a cunning plan!  Rhiannon (of course) came up with a design as she said she didn't want it looking like an allotment!  I quite like the allotment look but I will bend to her superior sense of style!  Trouble is the digging is hard work because the ground is very compacted and full of slate.  The boys have helped me quite a bit and Derek when he is around, but Keira is only interested in the fun bits like sowing seeds (who can blame her!)  We've managed to dig a couple of beds but I've got loads of stuff to go in and more beds to dig.  Each bed, although only small is taking over a week to double dig.  Then we go off with our squeaky wheelbarrow to raid a pile of well rotted manure that no one else wants (the neighbours already think we're eccentric).  Then because the soil was so compacted there's not enough room in the hole for our soil to go.  So now we have piles of unwanted soil and slate rubble which is really making the garden look attractive (sigh!)  It's all looking a bit of a mess at the moment but at least it's nice to see some produce popping out of the long as we can keep the armies of slugs at bay!

Gardening isn't the only thing we've been doing though.

We've started to get out and about again - back to the beach, fab walks and trips to the Botanic Gardens of Wales and the Centre for Alternative Technology.  We normally manage to get out more throughout the winter but it was just so relentlessly wet and windy, there was little pleasure to be had in it.

Guess where!

Rhiannon took part in a one Act Play festival at the Torch Theatre in Milford Haven.  They put on a challenging post-apocalyptic play called "And Then there were Three".    It was about 6 children trying to survive without adults following a global catastrophe in which all adults over the age of 18 had died of a deadly virus.  Sounds a bit hard going I know,  but it was fantastic and surprisingly entertaining, given the subject matter!  It won't be too long before its' back to Panto rehearsals for a bit of light relief!!

Jo with Derek at his book signing!

Jo helped to publicise a new book called "Is" by Derek Webb.  It's about a girl who believes herself to be the reincarnation of Isenbard Kingdom Brunel.  Jo took part in a dramatisation of parts of the book which took place in Haverfordwest Library and the Waterfront Museum in Swansea.  He really enjoyed it and as a bonus, it triggered an interest in Brunel and we have been watching some documentaries about his life and work as a result.

We had an "eggy" time over easter, having our first go at painting eggs.

We also began incubating some duck eggs!  There is a lad in the village who simply couldn't believe that we'd successfully hatched quail eggs that had come from a shop.  So he found someone who wanted some ducks and bought some duck eggs from Tescos.  He put 6 eggs in a make shift incubator he'd thrown together in his bedroom and gave the other 6 to Rhiannon to put in her proper incubator.  Needless to say, none of his eggs developed, but one of Rhiannon's is doing well!  It shoud hatch in under 2 weeks now, so we'll keep you posted!  Still it's a bit sad there's only one.......

We hope it won't be long before we begin incubating some bantum eggs for our own garden.  We will be getting our eggs from a local breeder who specialises in wynadotte bantums.  We are told they are good layers (for bantums) and something smaller seems better suited to our pokey little garden!  The only thing that's holding us back is that we will be away for Rhiannon's exams and then again for HESFES and there's no one here we know well enough to ask to look after young hatchlings.  Apart from anything else we don't want to miss any of that part anyway!  So we'll probably pop some eggs in the incubator before going off to HESFES  (it turns the eggs automatically).

Oh yes....those exams.  Rhiannon is just over three weeks away from her first exam.  It really has been an eye opener.  We spend more time talking about how to interpret a question to work out what the examiners want to hear than anything else!  Learning how to jump through the hoops in the right way is critical to success!  What happened to learning something in a meaningful way?  Frankly it all seems a bit of a waste of time - but it is so frustrating because society at large places so much emphasis on acquiring these pieces of paper.  It's hard work to find a different way through - yet I'm more than ever convinced that it would be worth the effort.

An example - Rhiannon is turning into a fine creative writer..............yet she finds it almost impossible to write anything worth reading in a time frame of 40 minutes.  So she may not do too well in the exam.  How then is a future employer/college or whatever supposed to judge her literacy skills fairly on the basis of this exam?

The boys too will be greatful when exams are over, since the work is tying us to the house somewhat.  Most days, after doing maths, they read, play chess, play physics games on the computer, whittle pieces of wood, make models, play guitar, cook,do some art and play with Keira.  I feel pretty guilty that they are not getting to do more of the many things on their lists of stuff they want to do, but Rhiannon needs so much support on the final run up to the exams - marking exam papers, discusssing answers, testing her on word definitions and so on.  It's amazing how time consuming it all is.  All I can say is thank goodness she's not sitting 10 subjects!!!!

And here's one of R's latest creations done in pen and ink and very much from her own imagination.

More pictures to  add but will try to do that tommorow.  I am reeling from the shock that I've actually posted something at all!  Time for a strong cup of coffee me thinks.


Big mamma frog said...

Wow! R's painting is fantastic! You should get a series of them done as plain greetings cards - I'd buy a heap (That design would be so so much better than all the usual 'boy birthday' cards). Any local gift shops? You could produce a set of cards by 'local artist'. Ok, getting carried away now...BUT it IS fab!

And what a lovely photo of the kids!

Been long awaiting a blog post from your neck of the woods...lovely to hear from you and looking forward to HESFES. Good luck with the exams!

Carol said...

Rhiannon has plans to make some money with her arts/crafts instead of doing a Saturday job. We've got local farmers markets and lots of craft fairs she'll be able to sell from. Just got to get these wretched exams out of the way :-(

As for the pic - that one only took her an evening and I'm sure she's got lots more ideas up her sleeve! Perhaps she should get a few more designs and bring them to HESFES!

And yes...I'm not very good at this blogging lark. Most of our day to day happenings seem so un blog-worthy.