Sweet peas, honeysuckle and caterpillars

Every two or three days I pick sweet peas. I have two varieties, and the one with the thicker stems and more flowers has performed best, lasting well when picked.

The vase of sweet peas on the left was picked some days ago.

They smell gorgeous and look pretty amazing too.

More recently, the honeysuckle has begun to flower and the bumble bees seem to like it.

On a smaller scale, tiny caterpillars are beginning to appear on the swan plants. I put two more plants in as the wee critters look as if they need fattening up. This one looks large enough in the photo, but is only about one centimetre long.

In Alice in Wonderland the Caterpillar asks Alice, “What size do you want to be?”

Creative basics

We were barely presentable to open the door for a delivery early this morning. It was the book I’d ordered from Flow last week. I had tried to order it locally, but a supplier was hard to find, so I went to the source.

What a pleasure it is to open such a parcel, full of promise and creativity.

There are other Flow books available locally, but this one seemed particularly interesting and a way of kick-starting some creativity as I settle into retirement. Will I dip into it and choose a random exercise or work from the start? I haven’t decided. There is a mix of visual and written tasks – even embroidery, which could be fun…maybe!

At the back of the book there are templates and images to use.

The book reminds of some of the resources I used to make for my students. I remember making one activity sheet which had lift-the-flap surprises. Another favourite was to devise bookmarks to go with the theme or text we were studying. I like the mix of visual and written, as in these wonderful writing resources I discovered in London bookshops in 2015.

These fold up so you can carry them easily with you as you explore and write.

At various times I’ve collected workbooks which have fun language and writing ideas. I’m looking forward to using these too. I used them at school for inspiration, but they have not been written in yet.

I know I will miss the creative side of teaching. As English teachers, we wrote most of our resources ourselves to suit our students and their diverse needs. Apart from common assessments and general skills guidelines, we devised our own programme for each junior class. Senior programmes were more defined to fit with NCEA assessments, but there was still room for creativity.

A poetry writing resource I wrote for senior students (Year 11 and 12)

Later in my career, I began to be terrified of running out of ideas as the beginning of each year loomed closer. I solved this by preparing for the new year at the end of the one before while everything was still fresh and I was reflecting on what I could do better or try next. This meant that I could begin the new year feeling a little more relaxed – and adapt my plans to suit the students once I’d figured out what was likely to appeal most and help them to make progress.

Now, I intend to apply the drive to create to myself with the help of the workbooks to get me started. I’m beginning to realise that being retired isn’t about just going with the flow (so to speak) but about being prepared and taking one’s own learning by the hand – gently at first, then who knows what will follow?

Blackcurrants

This week I picked 500g of blackcurrants from one plant – still leaving some for later (or for the birds). The other plant didn’t yield as much, possibly because I was rather timid with my pruning at the end of last season.

Blackcurrants are delicious as they are – tastier but more tart than blueberries. However, I can’t resist the shortcake recipe in the Edmonds Cook Book. It is for gooseberries, but can be adapted to any berry fruit. I did add the dozen or so gooseberries which I had picked earlier.

Delicious!