Sunday, 17 May 2015

If you don't go, you'll never know!

Well how things have moved on since last week's auditions .Cumbria Youth Dance sent an email with details of other pending dance auditions and my daughter immediately filled in and sent off her  application.

Meanwhile she received notification that she had been selected to audition for a choreography grant in Lancaster.Quite a tall order considering she has never done choreography before! Thank goodness for the internet!

We googled, and googled again, hoping for a clue about where to start. It appeared that the choice of music was key.The theme was bullying so we googled  "bullying music" and this Coilbie Caillat song was recommended.My daughter loved it!

Her dance teacher offered to spend Sunday morning with her and a fellow student and it was lovely to see her enthusiasm as she practised her moves over and over again in  the room above our garage.A recreational space away from the house where my son can drum to his heart's content without disturbing the neighbours and my daughter can dance freely away from the prying  eyes of Google.

My daughter learned so much on that Sunday morning.Her dance teacher had arranged for some fellow students to dance the prepared dances.They were older than my daughter but offered plenty of help and advice based on their experience.She came home with pages of ideas which she scribbled down as fast as she could in a little notebook about timelines and rythmns and learning styles.

 Her enthusiasm was contagious! Once again I was witnessing an example how self motivation is the best key to learning.The competition is for fourteen to nineteen year olds.My daughter is just fourteen.Whatever happens, by surrounding herself with older and more experienced dancers and choreographers she will be challenged and stretched.I firmly believe that if you surround yourself with successful people (whatever your definition of success) then you will be confident and successful yourself!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

There may be trouble ahead! But let's face the music and dance!

What a weekend! For months we have been preparing for the Keswick/Coniston to Barrow Walk (or at least I have) and then three days before my daughter is due to walk forty miles it's announced that they are doing auditions for Cumbria Youth Dance the day after.Something which my daughter has been waiting to do for over a year now.

Apart from the fact that it was highly likely that she would be unable to walk, let alone dance, and that the venue was one and a half hours away, accessible only by car (as there is no public transport on a Sunday) she was determined to attend.The auditions which are advertised as being open to all talented dancers in Cumbria are it seems, quite the opposite, there is only one audition and one location.If you don't make the audition, you don't get a place!

Quite apart from my own feelings on the fairness of it all this is obviously our introduction to the 'world of dance' and my daughter wasn't going to let this chance pass her by.

She finished her walk on a high,running over the finishing line in ten hours fifty eight minutes - a pretty good time for a first timer ,and she was smiling!

And so we were up next morning for her auditions near Penrith. We found the venue without too much trouble and,after signing in I left her to it!

I went to Rheghed for a coffee and a cookie and bought some lovely presents from the gift shops. Helen Skelton was due to do a book signing of her new book in the afternoon so,having browsed the entrants of the Cumbria Art festival and voted for my favourite with a yellow sticky dot planted securely beneath the artist's name. I set off for Penrith and had a browse round the town taking pictures.

Then I went back to Newbiggin where the auditions were taking  place and discovered the village well and water source which had been renovated. Apparently the village lay on layers of limestone with sandstone underneath. The water seeped through the limestone to the impervious sandstone and formed springs which had been used as watering holes for drovers taking cattle from Scotland to England.

At the end of the day I went to see how my daughter had fared. She had been selected to dance before the judges again but hadn't been allocated a place.Whilst disappointed ,she learned how tough it was going to be to attain her goal amongst youngsters who are dancing two or three times a week and travelling down to Warrington for lessons each month but she also got a taste of what was required and is now working on a fitness regime so she can audition again next year, and the next and the next until she gets her place! That's my girl!

Saturday, 2 May 2015

It's not every week you meet your MP!

I'm never happier than when I'm free from the constraints of 'school'. This week has been one of those weeks. My daughter has been doing work experience and my eldest son is in Milton Keynes on a training course. Google meanwhile is happy in his normal routine,away from the unexpected!

Work experience has taken the form of volunteering in one of our very important community hubs Ford Park. My daughter has worked in the cafe,planted in the walled garden with the volunteers (some of whom are unable to work due to mental health problems or learning disabilities) and learned about the benefits of companion planting , sat in on a level 1 Horticultural course, picked fresh vegetables for the kitchen,spruced up the nature walk, met our local labour MP John Woodcock who popped in for a coffee, experienced the anxiety of a staff member who's family live in Katmadu where there was an earth quake on 23rd April.Thankfully news came through that they were OK.

What a vast array of learning and the week isn't even over yet! When I dropped her off this morning,the local yoga class was about to begin and a group of walkers were gathering for the Ulverston Walkfest.It's obvious walking around town that it has been the Flag festival this week too!I managed to take some photos of the Gill on one of the practice walks I've been doing in preparation for the C2B next week.

I finally managed for the first time yesterday to walk up Hoad without stopping! I have been walking in  Newlands Bottom a hidden away spot just outside of town .The bluebells are finally out, and although unfurled this morning, so are the wood anemones! I even spotted two Jays, the first time I've ever seen them in the wild.

What a lovely week! Now that's my sort of Education!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Reach for the stars!

The other evening, as I sat watching television, Google came downstairs carrying his telescope case.When I asked him what he was doing he didn't respond (which we are totally used to by now) but he walked into the kitchen and I heard the latch of the kitchen door as he opened and closed it.
Later when I went to shut in   the hens I found Google, in the middle of the garden, sitting on a green plastic chair with his telescope trained towards the moon and his ipad on his knee .He was studying his  Stargazer app.I followed the line of his telescope and saw that the moon was an extremely narrow crescent that night .Above in the North east was a very bright planet which Google told me was Venus.

The thing that struck me was that Google hasn't touched his telescope for months . In fact I was thinking of sending it to the charity shop.He had obviously been reading about the position of Venus and gone out to investigate. Sure enough when I did  my own investigations this is what I come up with!

Once again I've seen evidence of him learning through his own interests and motivation. For many years Google has shown an interest in the space and the planets. He discovered Kerbal Space programme . Created space rockets and space modules,watched Professor Brian Cox.All of this has been self motivated.Not bad for the little boy who didn't want to learn!

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Singing Softly,Wonderfully well

Last night The Ghyll singers were invited to sing at a concert in St Martins church in Bowness on Windermere.

Living in such a beautiful area of the world we get to sing in some lovely spots. As we drove along the shores of Windermere the trees were just coming into bud and the blossom trees and rhododendrons were in flower,not forgetting of course the many thousands of daffodils made so famous by Wordsworth.

As guest singers to a wind band from Kendal we were able to sit back and enjoy most of the concert .We sang the pieces which had won us the South Lakes music competition and were congratulated in particular on our ability to sing quietly.

 I realised that slowly over the four years we had had our current conductor we had learned how to control our singing by pulling in our tummies,could sing the higher notes by  using our faces and smiling and had generally become more disciplined as a choir by listening to the other parts as we sang our own.That's the wonderful thing about learning, you just never stop.

Google for example has been reading up about politics.For the first time this year his older brother is eligible to vote and there have been discussions in our family about whether we actually agree with the current system. The conservatives and liberal democrats are currently joined by a coalition but never have I known the general public to be so disillusioned and mistrustful of MP's. A friend introduced me to an app designed to help new voters decide who to vote for. Bite the Ballot posed a series of questions and then suggested the parties as close as possible to the views of the voter.Vote for Policies was another site.It just shows how technology is changing the way we do things!

And as for progress with the C2B, only twenty days to go now and we went up Beacon Fell the other day. A super clear day and hardly a soul in sight, a fantastic place to live.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

A Black sheep in the family

In the field over the road from our cottage are the newly born lambs.The field is full of jumping, skipping creatures with  frantically wiggling tails as they drink their mothers milk.If you look closely however, you will suddenly see, from amongst the sheep a little black head, followed by a little black body - the cutest little black, indeed the only black lamb in the flock!

Friday, 10 April 2015

Five tarns in Lakeland

The weather has been beautiful over the past few days.Today my daughter was meeting up with scouting friends she'd met  at Winter camp earlier in the year.They were spending the day at Fell Foot so I arranged to leave her and spend a day walking with my friend as part of our practice for the C2B

I found a walk at the south eastern tip of Windermere which I reckoned would be out of the tourist radar.  I was right.Even at 11am there were plenty of parking spaces at Chapel House Wood at Staveley-in -Cartmel.

If we had had more time I would have liked to take a short walk round Staveley, a small but very pretty hamlet famed for it's house with a miniature railway running through the garden which is often opened to raise money for charity.

Our walk took us up a forest road and across boardwalks onto woodland paths.Through the trees to the right we could see the glimmer of water which turned out to be Simpson Ground resevoir where we stopped for a moment to take in the view and the silence.

After a slight unintenioned detour we found ourselves back on our intended path in synch with our walking book and carried on through the wood to a wall where we walked out of  woodland into the open countryside with clear blue skies and green fields broken by rocky outcrops and ant hills dotted here and there so your line of sight ahead was broken until you walked round each one.

 .We could see the limestone escarpment known as Whitbarrow scar on the skyline and, as we walked over the open fields  we  rounded a rocky knoll to see Sow How farm beyond which was  a second tarn with  two swans swimming on it and a solitary boathouse at one end.

From there we crossed sloping fields into deciduous woodland and found yet other tarn, this time it was cool and still.We could see the reflection of the  reeds on its still surface. This tarn differed from Sow How Tarn.It was enclosed by woodland and surrounded by rhododendron bushes  which had yet to come into flower and felt as though it was the relic of some wealthy estate.

We walked down past an old barn (which I later learned was called Heights) which had apparently been a Quaker meeting house until the 1920's (and which we commented would have made a good walkers accommodation in its isolation) and then down through more woodland and on to open countryside where we ascended to the cairn at Ravensbarrow.

 The cairn was in fact a seat and we sat whilst I  ate my sandwiches and surveyed the valley below us. The only evidence of people in the valley was a farmer on his tractor feeding his sheep and a couple of walkers ahead of us below. 

We descended towards the road but took a path to the right before reaching a stile over a dry stone wall and into deciduous woodland.It was lovely to see the odd wild daffodil here and there and some primroses on a grassy bank although I was surprised there were not more as the daffodils are in full flower now. After the wood we passed through agate onto a country road and turned left to a crossroads,never seeing a car as we sauntered along the route.We then turned left to a crossroad and right to The Ashes. Passing the farm and a chap doing a fine job of landscaping the garden with a fine slate wall, we walked down a farm track, over a little bridge spanning a stream and right onto a footpath over fields again which passed a typical lakeland cottage to our left with a red telephone box in the garden.

Over a stile into more woodland and past a converted barn which is now used as a holiday let onto the road where   Thorphinsty hall, a very fine house, lay ahead of us.

We passed the hall discussing the likely pronunciation of its name and up the road to a path on the leftt which took us through woodland up the hillside through recently planted plantations to the road further along.By this time the sun was hot and it was heavy going.Our hearts sank at the next path which rose steeply up a slope to a telephone mast. We scrambled up (me a bit at a time) and stopped to catch our breath at the top) Once there it was much easier. We followed the pylon lines onto moorland, over a couple of stiles and through a gate which had no bars allowing the sheep and lambs to move freely from one field to another.A lone lamb was calling to its mother having obviously gone in search of some adventure. Passing into newly planted woodland we followed a well worn path  until it reached a forest track. From there we walked parallel with the track until we reached the car.

It was a lovely and varied walk and there are  several things I would like to go back and investigate such as St Anthonys church on Cartmel fell and the  church at Staveley.