Angel Wings and Herb Tea

Life after loss; healing through creativity, writing and art


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A fresh start

Summer closing berries dripping in glistening bunches, brandy and honey and spices and  bottles of syrup and winter medicine. New routines, new rhythms…the late summer sun mellowing the land. Ripe tomatoes, fragrant basil scarlet rosehips.

New projects with children, plant dyes, boiling and fermenting wise woman brews steaming the windows and acrid tang of simmering roots.

Back home and into autumn. Back from a summer of retreat from the internet hot earth under bare feet wet canvas  singing campfires, damp  cabins in a green Welsh valley far from home. Evenings to sit and write and read, play card games and drink tea, sheepskins and hissing logs.

Away from screens that dull and hypnotise, the screens that also connect us all and sparkle with jewels of inspiration, information, ideas. The screens that lead me astray down meandering paths which infinitely divide and leave me with a vague sense of bloat and unease.

I haven’t missed it and I have. Through the internet I have connected with people from everywhere.  Weeping shown fragments of my soul to people I have not met naked words bare of polished gloss and finish.

I write here in this space and want to write more. I have painted, written and shared with women from New Mexico to Singapore , I have been invigorated and encouraged by so much.

But this summer I left for two weeks with the children  to voice camp, and later to the tiny Welsh cabin. Campfire songs and cold showers, harebells and buzzards, no phone, no texts, no internet. My voice joined others as I sang and my tears wet the ground and the shoulders of friends who comforted me. Skin touch, the whisper in my ear the smile and glance the connection, the sweetness of warm chai and fire grilled aubergine, earthy real sensuous. Its a different connection.

I do value them all.

Sometimes I  wish away the internet, and feel a deep yearning for a return to the simplicity and spaciousness of a time before my head was filled with so much, before my time was swallowed in such large cyber mouthfuls. But I would find it hard to exist without it. And I know its there. And I don’t want to miss out!!

Actually I didn’t want to talk about the internet but about autumn and new beginnings.

I wasn’t planning to home ed again. It was always supposed to be temporary. A baby, other ambitions, need for time to write, to be, to paint, it all seemed too much. But  circumstances have decided otherwise and I may start a home ed blog to discuss them all and the reasons we are now committing to keeping the three younger children at home, at least for the time being.

I am trying not to do everything. I have found childcare for at least one and a half days. Its important. I have such a strong fire to create, such a lust to express the words and images which flow through me, that it is essential for my family’s well being for me to have time to do this.

Its too easy to be bottom of the pile for me. Too easy to end up lying on the big bed upstairs with my body pinned to the mattress by feeding babies and affectionate children. Its lovely and soft and snuggly and adorable and nourishing…but only if I’ve had  an hour to paint, an hour to write, an hour to share with a friend, an hour to plant seeds and gather herbs, time to stretch and remind myself that indeed I do have a body and it is actually mine. (Hmm easy to forget that one)

If these things are in short supply, or if they are nonexistent, I feel starved and desperate crabby and cross and my warm mothering arms become sharp elbows and I am like a buzzing naked wire, charged and dangerous. (I don’t mean literally obviously, before someone calls Social Services!) I FEEL like that . I want to run away and feel the north wind in my hair and a wide open road ahead of me wild and exciting and Free. With some really nice cafes and notebooks along the way. And circles of friends to talk deep and challenging and share the howling grief and the star spinning laughter and the grainy beautiful truth.

So.

I’m being firmer about childcare.

I’ve joined a beautiful circle of women, a deeply held ceremonial sharing space of wild hedgerow medicine and elemental prayers and love.

I’m painting for my first exhibition IN TEN DAYS (did I already mention that?)

I’m remembering I have a body and having occasional treatments and regular stretching and …well I haven’t managed the candle lit bath yet but its on my list.

I’m joining a writing group in the flesh…

Green smoothies…seriously they rock…breakfast, sets me up for the day.

Love remember love. It sorts most stuff out. Smooths resentment shoulds woulds crabbiness. Easier said than done. Trying to remember.

That’s it for now, except yesterday would have been Lily’s 13th birthday and I want to write something for her but don’t want to mix her up with the internet and autumn and all this so she’s next for sure . Always

Love Henrietta x

Ps. Any self care sharing? Any new autumnal routines and changes in your lives?

In ten days some of my paintings will be on show in a local cafe. My first tiny exhibition.

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Life Loss and Gratitude

I don’t quite know why I’ve abandoned this space for so long. Its grey windswept corridors blown about with tumbleweed and debris . Life comes and life goes, blown by the wind, warmed by the sun watered by the (near continual )rain. People are born, people die, days are passed and tempers are lost. Love is found and divided out in slices, the Christmas tree is  down. Its the end its the beginning. I have no time.
I have little shards of time, tiny splinters which glitter like hard won jewels dug from a deep mine far away on a lost continent. I have to be as creative, flexible and bending with my time as a serpent. So flexible. So creative
.

A week ago an enormous church in our town was filled with people: remembering the life of a creative, generous, gentle man who spread singing across the world, a member of the community I live in. A ceremony of singing, sighing laughing, remembering. Sometimes, I barely managed to coordinate the keeping -everyone- occupied activities of finger knitting, French knitting and nursing nursing a teething, wildly possetting baby, child fights and demands, …all in a whisper; sometimes I was  engulfed in a wave of tears with the vast singing community of people who will miss him;

The songs we learned. Dance between the practicalities of caring for children in a reverent space, and moments of immersion when they disappeared to play upstairs.When someone dies it is as if everyone who has died is present too, a shimmering haze, amongst us and beyond us. Joyful and sorrowful, entwined, woven into the same cloth. There were certainly angels there.

And life on either side is full, a blurred juggle of endless food preparation..(We have gained another teenager for twelve weeks, taking the head count to seven, a German exchange student) converting our entrance hall into his bedroom; Christmas quilts hurriedly finished, New Year clear outs and purging. My bedroom especially, a growling lair of unsorted papers, half finished weaving, sewing and knitting projects, bags and bags of children’s clothes which need rationalizing reducing cleaning…throwing out.

Did I mention the rain?

You see I can be a moaner, a grumbling whinging oh its not fair kind of gal….ask my partner if you don’t believe me….he gets the worst of it….

So my intention is to be simply grateful.  Hmm its becoming a bit of a trend isn’t it? Gratitude Fridays, Thankful Thursdays…….. no blog complete without one.

Well maybe it works.

Finding just one teeny tiny thing each day to be grateful for, in between all the challenges, demands and whines of life can become a habit, and even grow. Stopping to notice the watery sun appearing outside as I complete the fifth round of washing up today, or the delicate tracery of Jack Frost’s fern magic on the windows as I shiver to the bathroom. Pausing to watch just how Finch can now pursue a favourite rattle with his eye, and make attempts to retrieve it, and how Tansy appeared unasked with a full basket of clean laundry hauled up from the cellar wash room ‘because I knew you needed it Mum, and were busy.’

Little things.
Important things.
Things that make me smile relax and BREATHE.
Slow down.
Feel a moment of love, a moment of Connection…With the sun. With Jack Frost. With Finch. With Tansy. It spreads…its contagious….before I know it I’ve noticed something else, someone else. A hug a look a smile, ahh it all seems better for a moment.

Gratitude. The only question remains…which day will I post? Today!!
So, every Wednesday, its gratitude day, and I will post my daily gratitudes from the week

What are you grateful for? Do feel  post a link to your blog if you feel moved to join in


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It’s complicated

Welcome to the August 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Sibling Revelry
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about siblings – their own, their hopes for their kids, and more. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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.How many siblings have my kids got? Let’s start with my eldest.  He has four from me and four from his dad’s subsequent relationship.. If you count Lily. And why wouldn’t you count her? Well if you’re fourteen and someone asks how many brothers and sisters you have, you might not want to bring up your dead sister right away, or maybe not even the ones that you don’t live with….I don’t know. But I can guess he doesn’t say eight very often. Eight. Hmm. Split families, bereaved families, families with multiple children, how did it all happen?

I’m one of one so this is all new territory to me, brothers and sisters; like an exotic fruit; tantalising, juicy and apparently delicious but just out of reach.Unskilled in fighting, sharing and manilpulating parental favour;

I was dropped into the tumult of sibling jealousy and love that are so exquisitely intermingled they hardly seemed to know which they were or when. 
‘I won’t throw Lily into the nettles down by the river, she’s too beautiful, ‘ for example. From a  three year old contemplating his newborn sister….
 
The ferocity of feelings between the kids can unsettle me and send me hurtling to the apex of the whirlwind, shouting, ‘No! no!’ like a banshee,  or, ‘Its fine, it’s fine, let’s go do some baking’, in high pitched, strung out, 
Lets- Placate-Everyone-Right-Now tones.
My partner meanwhile, eldest of five, hasn’t even looked up. ‘Just leave them, they’ll sort it out’, he might murmur.
‘But they’re killing each other!’
‘It’ll pass!’
 
When I was a child, everything was sedate, ordered, quiet…ok pretty dull if the truth be known!!! Predictable and unchanging; and I read alot of books.  Mainly about big, noisy rambunctious families charging around doing exotic, alien things like stealing each others toys and fighting over the last slice of cake. It sounded so exciting, so unreachable, so desirable.
 
 
So I decided to have my own big noisy rambunctious family. Four, always four. But complicated things like relationship break-ups happen, and before I knew it I had my four kids but by two dads, although the spacing between broods was close enough to make a cohesive family. 
Each permutation of child pairings had a different dynamics. And these dynamics flowed and changed with time. And just as I find the fighting almost unbearable to watch, so I find the moments of tenderness and true affection almost unbelievable too. ‘But they really love each other!!’
And then Lily died and everyone has an angel for a sister. No one quite knows how to do without her but they have no choice.
But it doesn’t mean their relationship with her has died. All her siblings still love her, even the ones who have never met her on earth. Since little Finch was born three weeks ago, we often say that Lily probably played a part in him deciding to join our family. And although it breaks my heart that  I will never see Finch and Lily together on earth, I know they had a great time together before he was born…..
 
A white feather always connects the kids to their big sister, floating to the ground in front of them, ‘Lily is preening her wings,’ they say. 
We talk about her, remember things she said, notice traits in the younger ones which remind us of Lily. And all the children have times when they just sigh and wish she was here again.
 
 
Truthfully, Tansy and Leo probably have no real memory of her, they were so young, but the presence of their lost sibling is so powerful and graceful that they can never forget her.
A sister is always a sister, wherever they are.
And five kids are five kids, wherever they are, I didn’t plan to have part of my family in heaven, but the relationship between them all will flow and change and grow as they change and grow.
This is their life, and death is part of it, as it is for everyone.
Freddie, Lily, Tansy, Leo and Finch.
Who love each other.


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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • The Damage of Comparing Siblings — Comparing siblings can lead to hurt feelings and poor relationships. What Jana Falls has learned and why she hopes for more for her son.
  • Connecting Through Sibling Rivalry — With four children who are spaced so that each child grows up in a pair, Destany at They are All of Me shares her method for minimizing the competition so her children can focus on bonding, rather than besting each other.
  • Sibling Revelry — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares the two-week transition that happens every summer as her kids transform from bickering to learning how to play.
  • Baby Brother born from an OceanAbby Jaramillo describes how her toddler connects in a possibly mystical way with her new baby brother and his birth at home, and Abby draws parallels with her own sister’s new baby.
  • Hard, But Worth It — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl discusses how difficult having two children can be, but how it’s definitely worth it.
  • Raising Attached Siblings — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy and her husband are making conscious choices about how they raise their children to foster sibling connection and attachment.
  • It’s Complicated — Henrietta at Angel Wings and Herb Tea reflects on how life’s twists and turns have taken her from a childhood with no siblings to a constantly changing family life with five children, including one in spirit.
  • Supportsustainablemum reflects on how the differences between her relationship with her siblings and her husband’s have affected their family and at a time of need.
  • Peas in a Pod — Kellie at Our Mindful Life enjoys the special relationship her oldest two children share.
  • Lessening the competitive enviornment in the homeLisa at The Squishable Baby discusses how downplaying competition in the home has led to cooperation, not competition.
  • The complex and wonderful world of siblings — Lauren at Hobo Mamareflects on her choices to have not too many children, spaced far apart — and how that’s maybe limited how close their sibling relationship can be.
  • 5 Ways to Help Young Siblings Have a Loving Relationship — Charise I Thought I Knew Mama shares the strategies that help her three year old and 14 month old have a somewhat beautiful relationship and aid in keeping peace in their home.
  • 4 Steps to Encourage Sibling Revelry, even in Hot Moments of Rivalry — Sheila Pai of A Living Family share 4 Steps she uses to shift hot moments of sibling rivalry towards connected moments of sibling revelry and human compassion.
  • Twins Are Fun — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot witnesses the development of her twins’ sibling bond.
  • Growing Up Together- Sibling Revelry in Our House — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work realizes that there is great utility in raising siblings that are close in age, and is grateful to have been blessed with healthy siblings that both love and challenge one another every day.
  • Top 5 Ways to Reduce Sibling Rivalry — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares ideas that helped her two children be best friends along with Montessori resources for peace education and conflict resolution.
  • Sibling Uncertainty — Alisha at Cinnamon and Sassafras wonders how her children’s relationship will change now that the baby is mobile.
  • Living with the Longing — Rachael at The Variegated Life sees that she can live with her longing for another — without changing her plans.
  • For My One and Only DaughterPlaying for Peace mommy reflects on her choice to not have more children in order to focus on other dreams.
  • Siblings: A Crash Course in Relationship Training — How have your siblings prepared you for later relationships? One of Dionna at Code Name: Mama’s top priorities as mama of siblings is to help them learn how to navigate relationships.
  • The Joys of Siblings: An Inside Joke — Ana at Panda & Ananaso shares the a glimpse into the joys of having siblings through sharing a perplexing yet hilarious inside joke betwixt her and her own.
  • Sibling Support, even in the potty! — Even though Laura at Pug in the Kitchen‘s children didn’t start out best friends, they are joined at the hip these days, including cheering each other on with potty successes!
  • Don’t Seek What Isn’t There – On Sibling Jealousy — Laura from Authentic Parenting analyzes the seeming desire people harbor for seeking out hints of sibling jealousy.
  • Sibling Love / Sibling Hate?Momma Jorje speculates whether her children will have a different sibling experience than her own. Did she make the right choices based on her own history?


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Working things out

Yes I keep fiddling around, trying to get things right on this blog, I’m not quite there yet, so be prepared for more changes! It’s not my strong point, the techie side, but I’m trying!
When I started this blog I had a very clear vision of what this space was about.  There were three elements which were held here;

The Woodland folk…
For four years I lived with my family in the middle of a wood in Devon. The first three in a mobile home, the last in our self build cabin. This blog was about living in small spaces with minimal possessions and no electricity, it was about hand washing by candlelight and writing in notebooks by the fire, and stepping out into beautiful woodland by night to the ghostly owl shadows gliding down the valley.

Wild medicine
I also wrote about the oils, tinctures and balms I made for my family from wild harvested herbs, and the hedgerow food and medicine around our land. Connection and healing through plants and trees.

Lily
Finally, this blog has been space for my daughter Lily, who died four years ago; time and space for me to think about her, share how life is, and was, and could be without my daughter, and what she means for our family.

Some things have changed. And so the blog will change .
We now live in the wing of a mansion, as part of a community of people who sing, and garden together; share space, food and land.

We have an indoor bathroom, access to a washing machine and mains electricity, which to begin with felt odd and wrong after our deep connection with a simpler life on the land. When our cabin burnt down, we had to live somewhere, and after much searching and deliberation, this felt right. And it is. Somehow it is.
We are no longer the family in the woods, we no longer straddle two centuries, bathing in a tin bath, then dashing off to school in a car, but for me in particular, the departure from this way of life has been hard. Not just the loss of the beautiful cabin that we, (well Hugh) worked so hard to build, but it felt like a failure that we were creeping back to mainstream society with our tail between our legs. I missed the closeness to nature and cooking dinner on the campfire, stepping out of the door into wildness…..
‘When’s the rebuild?’ so many people asked in the early days after the fire, and truely neither Hugh or I really ever wanted to.

To return to the blackened scene of such devastation, to a piece of land which, if the truth be known, we had never chosen because it was the most beautiful woodland.

And then I was pregnant. We were exhausted, and our kids needed stability and safety, normality. We have lost so much, our home, our possessions, the chicks, the cat, the rats (Holly and Sophie since you ask) the goats (Goats?.Why yes…Lauren, Lauretta, Abby and Dolly…..they’re’s a whole blog post just waiting to happen, can’t believe they’ve escaped being featured!)

but we have also gained so much. Wisdom for a start, to have learnt from big mistakes and misguided ways of approaching projects. We have received so much love and unfailing support from friends an strangers, and  a realisation that community is more important than independance. I have learnt that  receiving is as beautiful (and a lot harder) than giving, and the web of connecion and interdependance between us is the magic and the fabric of our  lives and makes us human. (Yes its basic stuff, but I’m a slow learner, these big jolts in my life accelerate my schooling in the bits I’m falling behind in) We’ve also gained a new baby, little Finch.

And so things are different. We’ve been forced to reevaluate our lives, one day I was drawing up business plans for our smallholding, herb products; projecting milk yields and planning my first batch of goats milk soap (with investment of specialised oils, and equipment all at the ready), costing out yurts for our planned retreat centre for bereaved families and disadvantaged kids……the next….its all gone.

And so we move on, and change, and there are other things in our lives, and other paths which, who knows may wind in the same direction one day.

I still gather herbs and bottle nature’s medicines for the winter chills, Lily is still my daughter and a luminous presence in our family, I’m still homeschooling Tansy and Leo and writing and creating, but now things are moving.

Life is bigger than I have let myself believe. I’m exploring what this means. Bringing together the things that make me sing and smile and weaving them together to make a blanket of healing. Healing for me, healing for many. The colour and weave is yet unknown although patterns and hues swirl around me, notebooks are filling with lists, threads of projects, ideas….consolidating, envisioning.

I’m just working my way through Leonie Dawson’s  Incredible yearbook and planner 2013 , yes in July, should have done it in January, and it’s just what I need. Check it out….well at least in readiness for 2014, but July is better than not at all eh? Newborn baby and all!

Little Finch is already a healer in our lives in so many ways, he’s brought so much love with him……….and that newborn ageless wisdom, and a soft, silky head to nuzzle.

So this blog will change. Reflecting life’s twists and unexpected turns. I hope you’ll come too, it’s amazing to have you along.
I remember hitting ‘publish’ the very first time I wrote on here and it felt so strange….who on earth would want to read it anyway? But you have, and people have, and sharing is uplifting and healing and really joyful and fun…..Thankyou…..


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Lily and the mobile phone guy

What do you do on the anniversary of your daughter’s death? It’s not the sort of question I imagined I’d have to deal with when I held my 4 newborns in my arms. But it is something I have to think about every year now.

June approaches with stealthy feet, all blossomy with foaming elder trees and blowsy roses, tangled hedgerows of campion and stitchwort and budding honeysuckle, and I get the same feeling of strange dread and an opening heart.

The weeks before have been tumultuous emotionally, flare ups and misunderstandings, journalling and outpourings, private tears and heart connections, jagged, raw poems that can never be seen…realisations and illuminations.

But today, the anniversary of the day 4 years ago that they did the brain stem test in Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, to see if they should turn the life support machine off, well it seemed strangely normal and so so hard to feel any connection with deeper emotions.

Its hard to feel and connect when I’m busy. Doing not being.

We were up early to rush back from a mini break in time for Hugh to go to work, so sweeping caravans and packing at seven instead of a quiet reflective time.
Shopping with the kids for groceries….trying to have a moment of thought over pancakes in a cafe …..jarring with children who were slightly hysterical and tired….
And then for God’s sake, meeting the mobile phone repair guy in the supermarket carpark at 4.30. My date with normality. Drawing me into its web with its dulled ravening claws….rushing away from a painting hour where we created angels and doves for Lily’s grave…to meet the mobile phone guy, and buy loo roll.

But maybe that’s ok. Maybe I don’t have to create a perfect hallowed day on June 11th and feel like I’ve let Lily down if I don’t. I did need my phone, we did need loo roll. We did connect over the painting and we did visit Lily’s grave…..and we do have spontaneous moments where we feel.

Curled up in a little grassy place we go to sometimes where the younger kids feel safe and relaxed, and say how they miss her.
A moment alone to pick flowers for her table where each blossom seem to glow with the essence of her love for it. Where the world swelled and condensed to a tiny distilled fragment holding Lily and me in its tender embrace.

A chance conversation sitting in the car in the rain with all of my children, remembering, crying, little forgotten details recalled, healing tears…..soothing our struggles alone.
Messages from friends, a kind word which helps grief to flow.

And that is the challenge. To create the space to let the grief move how it will, without dams or blockages or  avoidance tactics, or just the practical demands of daily life. To let Lily into everything. To allow the joy and grief to weave and flow around our lives, the tears sparkling among the breakfast dishes as the laughter ripples into a walk to the garden. No separation. No compartmentalisation.

It is a challenge.

When I meditate, or spend a moment seeking a connection with nature or myself, the tears and emotions are very close to the surface, waiting for a chance to escape the rigid confines of my busy hours where I rush without feeling. I know that the more I do this, the more emotion can flow naturally in my life and become more balanced and help me and my family to heal. I’ve made a commitment to do this more.

Spending time in nature, in this beauiful place that is our home now,  sitting with a flower, a tree, being quiet and receptive to the spirit that is in everything and in us, makes my heart much bigger and makes me feel that anything is possible. Spending time connecting with friends old and new, in deeper ways, more nurturing ways, makes me not feel alone. Makes me feel the beauty of life, the endless possibilities that are always there.

I guess Lily would just laugh about meeting the mobile phone guy, she just needs us to love her, remember her, connect wih her, just like always. It’s another day, like yesterday, like tomorrow.

A day for us all to connect with something more than our mind driven rushing, to open our hearts to a deeper level. Its a huge tapestry of glowing, luminous threads we’re part of, all interwoven with the practical homespun browns and greys, the vibrant reds and pinks of daily activity, the soft iridescent violets of our connection to the spirit which is in everything, the subtle greens of nature unfolding….we never stop weaving…

Do you manage to hold all the threads of the loom together…..is it easy for you?


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The alchemy of food

Some days I’m just plain bored of cooking! Do you feel like that sometimes? I love cooking and place (rather too much) importance on the regular production of delicious nutritious meals….but…sometimes I just can’t be bothered.

I’ll be just getting my teeth into chopping a huge mound of ash logs up for the winter and … it’s that time of the day again. Or I walk into the house at the end of a long day out with cranky hungry children and not a clue what to rustle up, or we’ve all just snuggled up on the sofa with some knitting and stories (it’s that kind of summer in Devon) and ….well exactly. Sometimes I wish we could all just not eat for a day or two, just so I don’t have to think what to cook.

But then sometimes I build up to an enormous crescendo of baking, churning out bread pies, biscuits, quiches….just to make it worth turning the oven on. When I was a kid one of the greatest sins was putting only one thing at a time in the oven…I don’t think I have  really ever grown out of it, and of course it does make perfect financial and environmental sense!! And about three quarters of the way through the enormous crescendo, where everyone has decided to get fully involved, dinner is still a long way off and my tiny kitchen counter is a jumble of dirty dishes, chopped vegetables coated in flour, and four unfinished baking projects, I realise I’m not having fun anymore. I’m flustered agitated, snappy and  flushed and I just want to throw everything in the compost bin and run into the woods. The words, ‘I just need to get this finished now and would you please go and play?’ have been uttered, sometimes not so nicely, and with little effect.

It doesn’t feel very nourishing.

And neither was yesterday’s dinner, a pale unimaginative pasta that felt like wading ankle deep through mud, with some over steamed cauliflower and tofu. That was sort of how I was feeling when I was cooking it and it showed!

So I was surprised today to be making pasties, having torn myself away from the ash logs and the sofa, and quite enjoying it. It was late, Tansy and Leo were fighting over cleaning the rat cage out, and coming in periodically to drop rat cleaning rags into the sink near where I was working. I was tired and a bit grumpy. Conditions were not favourable. And I was uninspired by the thought of little cubes of carrot and potato going into my pasties yet again. Things were teetering on the edge of spiralling downhill rapidly when I found an enormous bunch of chard in my veg box and started chopping it and singing all twelve verses of Green grow the rushes oh! You don’t know that song? Tansy and Leo were involved immediately and all rat issues were forgiven and forgotten. But tell me just who were the Rivals and the Lily white boys? Or the Proud Walkers for that matter?

So the chard went in with some sauteed onions and some chopped celery….Hmm chard and goat cheese would be a better bet, a hint of nutmeg? A zest of orange? Some raisins and toasted hazelnut? Buttery short crust pastry. Suddenly I felt like I was creating a bit of magic. I was enjoying myself, I twirled Tansy round the kitchen…(mainly to distract her from her current wobbly tooth which was quite literally dangling by a thread and spitting blood everywhere) the spices and fruits married in the pan in a fragrant mellow nuttiness, the dough baked to buttery perfection, melting goats cheese..mmmm!

That’s how to prepare food!
You know it’s strange, everyone ate much more calmly tonight, everyone went to sleep quietly.

Have you ever seen the film Like Water for Chocolate? It was always one of my favourites, although I haven’t seen it for years. I have always longed to cook quail in rose petal sauce with as much love as Tita did.