Global Family Culture
EJB loves music and is evolving into a distinctive and talented singer/songwriter/guitarist in her own right, so understandably she wants to follow her dreams and attend a specialised music course for her 6th form education instead of continuing on to A level studies. I have no doubt that this girl is going to make it some day, if you were able to hear her fledgling folky voice and intelligent, moving lyrics you'd know what I mean and she's still only almost 14.
The thing is, she's also pretty accomplished in her academic studies so it would be a shame to close the door on other options further down the line if for any reason she decided to pursue a different dream or interest. This is common sense talking, the advice that all our parents have given us down through the generations is to go as far and do as well as you can in education as it will give you a better start in the adult world. I think whilst this is still true in many respects, in this gloomy economic climate even highly accomplished university graduates aren't able to get a foothold on the career ladder these days, whilst there are still many out there who've focused on a trade or skill earlier in their education and have gone on to secure financial stability and happiness.
Personally, I was never one to take advice or constructive critiscism too well (I'm still working those even now) but I did follow most of the advice of my elders and teachers during my teenage years simply because I didn't have enough experience of the world, or know myself well enough to take any other path. That came later when I started following my heart rather than what I was expected to do, which led me to an unconventional life by many of my peers standards but one that I wouldn't change for the world. I do often wonder how things would have turned out if I'd chosen a different study path or jobs, but really if we overthought every decision we ever made, we'd never move forward.
So really what is the best advice to give here? Reset position is to encourage the path well trodden by continuing on in mainstream education whilst pursuing music on the side but how many artists and musicians that have made it today would have made it if they compromised their passion for other people's ideas of what they should or shouldn't do? I read a post about 'dream stealers' on the lovely blog 'The Last Degree' a few weeks ago and it really hits the nail on the head, all of us no matter what we believe our motivations are, are guilty of a spot of dream stealing by raining on other's parade in the guise of protecting them against making decisions we believe may have a chance of failure.
I've had many try and do it to me and in turn I recognise instances where I also have discouraged the ideas and dreams of people I cared about because perhaps I didn't have the courage and strength in conviction to support their goals whole-heartedly. So remembering what it feels like to be young and excited and ambitious, I'm going to say go for your dreams EJB no matter what others say, there's plenty of time to change your mind and try other things, weve all done it and are still doing it over and over again. x
This was a situation I witnessed yesterday at one of Cornwalls popular tourist beaches, but really it could happen anywhere at any time to any of us. Thankfully due to the quick actions of the lady running the beach hire shop in contacting the beach patrol and others running businesses nearby, mother and child were soon reunited and so this story has a happy ending but others haven't been so lucky.
I guess this topic has hit home even more in the last week with the disappearance of Tia Sharp, a 12 year old South London girl who has been missing since last Friday, my heart goes out to her family and I really hope she is found alive and well soon. So with this in mind I couldn't think of a more apt time to take some precautions for my own family and god forbid we ever need to use them. A while ago I found out about a smartphone app called Lost Kidz but it's taken until now for me to get around to writing about it.
At present it's only available to iphone users, which is why I haven't yet downloaded it, however the creator who also happens to be a surgeon in the Cornish city of Truro has assured me that it will soon be available for Android devices as well. So whilst I wait anxiously for the HTC-friendly version to be released I figured that I might as well spread the word to anyone and everyone that is a parent, grand-parent, teacher or general friend of the community as the more people that know and use this app, the better protected our children will be.
So how does it work? I took this overview from the Lost Kidz website directly as it clearly sums it up for you....
'The basic concept behind Lost-Kidz is simple. The moment that you realise that your child is missing, you use the App to issue an alert to people in the vicinity asking them to look out for your child. The alert contains a current photo, location and time that your child went missing, along with any details which you have chosen to add to the alert such as a description of clothing. With the help of the App, in the vast majority of cases you will be re-united with your child in a short space of time, but as time passes, the App issues further alerts to an increasingly wider area.
When someone finds your child, or has information that they wish to pass on to assist the search, they can make immediate contact with the issuer of the alert using the contact button on the App.
When you have been re-united with your child, the App delivers a message to others in the area to confirm that the child has been returned safely
Our aim is to re-unite you with your child in the shortest possible time; reducing stress and anxiety and minimising the risk of accidental or intentional harm to your child.'
I think it's a brilliant idea and I believe most of us would go to great lengths to ensure no harm came to a child in our vicinity if we had the knowledge and power to stop it. I believe it also works when travelling abroad, which for many of us is when we worry the most about childrens safety.
So please share this with your friends, communities, child-care providers, school, sports clubs all over the world, because this is a numbers game folks, the more pairs of eyes out there to assist, the better. If you need any more info on the app, they have a facebook page which I follow and a regularly updated twitter feed @LostKidzApp
Lets all hope we never need it.
But in lieu of that, my own contribution this week consists of a few choice things to brighten up the environment of our little people, kiddy decor if you will.
I've been meaning to write about a new Australian e-shop called Wallfry for quite a while, both because I know the lovely lady behind it and because the products are pretty awesome. They create bespoke wall art for kids bedrooms in bright appealing colours and have a huge range of different themes and characters to chose from. When I was looking for things to decorate Squigglets room as a baby and now as a toddler, there really wasn't much available in the way of tasteful and quirky prints, not in the main retailers anyway, it seems Wallfry have now answered that call, with as they put it 'Wall Art for Small Fry'. Wallfry's artwork also has educational value, encorporating letters, numbers, geography and other useful learning tools within a fun and kid friendly medium. Other than that, it's just kinda cool in a pop art way. I actually think this world map print is pretty groovy even for adult rooms.
Ooops, I just realised the time and it's almost not Tuesday anymore so I think I'll leave it at that....I've got some home-made pizza to cook and eat and there's only so much time in the day.
Until next week...
Still, I guess when I look back I've managed to squeeze quite a bit into those 37 years so I'm not complaining, although as my face and body begin to slowly soften at the edges and lose focus slightly I am accutely aware that ageing is something I am not entirely prepared to face. So to wrench me out of this melancholy line of thought I am dredging the memory banks to recall some of the treasures I most coveted for birthdays past.
For some reason, which I suspect had something to do with my childhood sugar addiction and slightly fanatical love of ice blocks (kiwi for ice lollies/popsicles) I always really wanted a Mr Frosty slushy maker. Sure we had a Soda Stream in the days before the sugar free syrups and that was all well and good, but Mr Frosty was on another level of desirability, all the kids wanted one. Alas this was one wish not fulfilled and so to this day, slushy drinks hold some sort of magic appeal to me, although I'm more inclined towards frozen margaritas than technicolour fructose syrups now.
As a kid I was as much girly girl as tomboy and enjoying playing with dolls and climbing through hedges in equal measures, but I seemed to have an obsession with paper dolls. I owned about 20 different sets of what essentially amounts to a small one dimensional cardboard figurine with lots of paper clothes and hats that were attached by folding paper tabs. I can't really work out the attraction these days but I reckon it was the beginning of my love of dressing up. My favourite one was called Butterscotch, who was a wholesome American college student type, with plenty of plaid and paisley numbers in her wardrobe. I wonder whatever happened to my paper doll collection....
As the 80's got into full swing, all sorts of outrageous fashion trends took hold, but with the arrival of Madonna the black 'Rara' skirt was at the top of every girls wishlist. What goes better with crimped side-parted hair than a flouncy layered above the knee skirt? Nothing, that's what. I begged mum to buy me one to wear to a school disco but being the sensible and eternally fashionable lady she is, I only got the non layered imitation version, in red. The tragedy! Still, I perserved and wore it to the disco regardless, and I must say it looked rather snazzy teamed with back and white vertically striped leggings, white latticed flats, blue eye shadow and the requisite side pony tail. I have a picture of that somewhere, but conveniently not in this country, so I won't be sharing that particular moment of shame.
Fast forward to my teen years and a budding interest in novice photography, inspired by one of my dad's favourite hobbies and bain of many a family car trip as we stopped for extended photo opportunities every half hour. The Pentax Spotmatic II was my first real camera, it was a bit retro even then and even with all the digital technology these days I still think it produced the best images. I spent hours experimenting with different types of shots and even using the cool reverse button on the bottom (normally for rewinding the film to extract it for processing) but when pushed down whilst winding the next frame on, it would create a double exposure and ghost like overlays onto images. It went to Japan with me the first time and then around Europe, it captured many a fine moment and a whole lot of atmospheric NZ scenery along the way. I loved that camera. I'm sure it's somewhere in my stuff back home, I would love to play with it again.
See, with all this reminiscing I feel better already. I've had an awesome day, I got to lye in and read a book, had breakfast cooked for me, got some lovely and very thoughtful pressies and now am sitting in front of a fire awaiting a pancetta, blue cheese, leek and rosemary pizza on homemade dough. Red wine in hand, of course. It's all very civilised and dare I say, grown up. Wonders never cease.
Happiness is an elusive emotion, what society says should make us happy....status, money, sought-after possessions..... often produce a short-lived emotional high before our greedy inner drive spurs us on to crave ever more dazzling ways to sate that gnawing feeling of unfulfillment or under achievement. That's why I prefer to seek contentment rather than 'happiness' as it signifies a deep satisfaction with where you are and what you have in life at the present time.
So, here we are in Cornwall just as we've wanted to be for some time and we can't quite believe our luck. We're living off one very modest income, we don't own our house, we have an dunger of a car (for clarification: dunger = Kiwi for an old decrepit car) and don't know anyone within a 30 mile radius, but it's quite simply awesome.
Never mind high flying champagne lifestyles filled with glamour, been there done that, got the hangovers and a wardrobe full of too high shoes....these days what really makes me delirious with excitement is having a brand new vacuum cleaner that actually works and a £19 sewing machine that I'm not licensed to drive yet.
All those things that I have been putting off for years because the circumstances weren't right and we didn't have a space of our own, now have a pretty good chance of being done. Since moving in 2 weeks ago, I've cooked and baked like never before purely because the kitchen is huge and all ours to use and on the same floor as our living area, I'm sure the novelty will wear off but I'm getting my domestic goddess points stacked up in the mean time.
My latent mid 30's gardening gene has also kicked in and without a clue what I'm doing, I've dug up a hideous alpine rockery type arrangement and established a herb garden in the course of a day; which like the old ballad, contains 'Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme'....and Basil and Mint. These have been circled in fire ashes as a natural slug repellant, so I'm keeping a close eye to make sure it works. Both my parents are outstanding gardeners, so I reckon I should have inherited some sort of super-natural green fingers but thus far in my life I have struggled to keep potplants alive, but then perhaps these powers increase in intensity the closer you get to 40 so I'll expect some pretty awesome results in the next few years. My next plan is to create a section of aromatic plants such as Lavender, Lemon Balm, Jasmine and whatever else I can find at the garden centre although my timing's probably off on this one.
Aside from this, I've started my long intended decoupage project which is to be the first of many depending on how I get on, so far I've managed to navigate the hardware store unaided and purchase the right sandpaper and spent a sunny afternoon outside banishing the ugly varnish with the assistance of the Squigglet who thought it looked like a fun activity, we both got covered in dust. Io is a little wary as I have been eyeing up every piece of wooden furniture we own as prospective decoupage fodder and I think he has visions of patterned madness all over the house, he might not be far off the mark but I'll try to contain myself, a little. It will take me weeks if not months to decide on and actually commit to purchasing some fabric or paper to use for this, so don't hold your breath for the finished product, it's a labour of love.
In between all this house and garden foolery we've been exploring the county at every opportunity and I know without a doubt we have a found home. Somewhere that as slightly nomadic adults, we have been searching for a long while but nowhere seemed to quite fit the bill. Every new village or seaside town I explore is more quaint and beautiful than the next, I don't think I'll ever get tired of sitting on an old stone quay lulled by the musical lapping of waves and fresh with salty breeze.
Also, the ice cream is amazing! I may have mentioned that in my previous post and it's not as if I eat the stuff that often but who could resist a cone of ginger and dark chocolate on a warm summers day? Ditto for the seafood, which stands to reason as fishing was once the mainstay of the food industry down here and still plays a signficant role in many coastal communities. Fresh crab seems to be on the menu everywhere at the moment and peering over the harbour wall and along the beaches there seems to be enough of them to cater for demand.
Our village is about 2 miles from the famed Eden Project so I'm viewing that as our extended playground, especially when they've got a year-round calendar of events for families with 'The Lorax' themed activities, Den Building, live music and No Fit State circus all on this summer. Annual membership tickets cost the same as day passes so it makes sense to go as often as you like, even just to pass the time in their scrummy cafe's or one of the biomes. Also nearby is the Pinetum Gardens, which have beautifully maintained woodland and themed gardens, we stopped by today and discovered a kids play day was in full swing with craft making, games and an ingenious makeshift 'water-play' area comprising a series of paddling pools and half pipes. Squigglet was in heaven.
Our plan is to visit a new beach/village every weekend so I'll let you know what we discover and if we become surfing addicts in the process, although I think given my complete lack of coordination, I may stick to boogie boarding or sea kayaking - easier to manoeuvre and less risk of plowing into innocent swimmers.
So am I content? Absolutely. Will this burst of productivity and satisfaction last? I certainly hope so. We've had a tough time getting here, but here we are, at last.
So where was I? Oh right, Treasure Box Tuesday..... most of my posts this week are going to have a very Cornish flavour as I am rather enamoured with our new home county, it's just ridiculously beautiful and charming. To get the ball rolling I'd like to share this lovely nautically themed-print (my early birthday present from Io) that we picked up in the nearby fishing village of Mevagissey last weekend. It's the work of local Cornish artist Lizzie Saddington, whose work is beautifully intricate and colourful. This is destined for our dining room which we've decided is going to have a distinct seaside/beach theme.
I love shiny things as much as the next girl but don't tend to wear jewellery on my arms and hands often these days as it gets in the way when constantly lugging a toddler around. I think I might make an exception for this pretty little bracelet from Via Cornwall however. Made from recycled sea glass it perfectly mimicks the lovely green hues of the ocean and makes good use of a material we use everyday.
And lastly, as this is a family show I'm including this cool, versatile and award winning Cornish-made play equipment Rokka that converts from a fishing boat/kids table to a kitchen and a puppet theatre with a few small adjustments. It's kind of expensive but at £394 for the full set, but you can purchase individual sets and add on as you go along and kids are likely to get quite a few good years of playing with this in all it's different forms. Maybe I'll ask Io to have a crack at bodging up a homemade version once we've ticked all the other household DIY projects off the list, mmm could be some time!
What I'm really hanging out for down here is the chance to try some amazing Cornish ice cream from Treleavens, a company I stumbled upon whilst looking into foodie info down here. They have an astounding array of flavours including Cornish blue cheese & pear, orange & marscapone and Turkish delight! I feel a Cornish cuisine discovery mission coming on.....
The sun is shining outside so I'm going to go enjoy it while I can in this notoriously fickle English climate!