Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Signs Of Spring? And What To Do About Homework....

It's early days yet, and I am all too aware that winter has still got plenty of time to sling some really foul weather our way (this time last year we were ankle deep in snow), but on this morning's walk out with the dogs the sky was blue and the sun was shining and buds were appearing everywhere, so you could be forgiven for thinking that Spring has indeed Sprung.

There was plenty of new nature-type things to photograph, which made me realise how little there has been over the past few months:

Blue sky, in case you were wondering. Well, it has been a while.


Back-lit fern

King Alfred's Cakes

View of the sunlit lane from our house
I've been aware of a twittering going on in the alder trees opposite the house over the last few days. The same thing happened this time last year, a huge flock of tiny wee and very vocal birds descended on the alders. Because they are so high up it took me a while to identify them. They are siskins, and alder is one of their food plants. They also breed in coniferous forests (about the only good thing conifers do in my view). They do sometimes come into the garden so now I know they are back I will be keeping an eye out for them on the feeders. This kind of thing really makes you appreciate the importance of plants and trees in certain locations- if the alders weren't here then the siskins wouldn't be.

We had 14mm of rain here last night. My Resident Weather Expert tells me we're now up to 199mm for the current monthly total- far wetter than January should be. The ground is saturated, with soggy puddles pooling in the garden (and that's the first time I can recall that ever happening here) and the stream out front is now running across our drive and baptising the lane.
As a result of this deluge (and there is more to come this week- groan), the plants were all wearing their rain drops very prettily this morning. I was fascinated with the upside down reflections of the twigs and trees in them...

Yesterday I noticed the sparrows going in and out of their hole in the roof where their nest is. Things are definitely moving here. The birds are picking up the signals that it's time to build nests. The pigeons are courting: Mr P does this lovely delicate polite bowing and soft nibbling at Mrs P, who I'm afraid just looks bored and flies off half way through. They have been married some time....

Ted and Pops continue well. They are my shadows when I'm at home and are never far away. We've been attempting 'Poppy Training' which is hit and miss to be honest. She's perfect if she knows there's food in the offing but hopeless if there isn't. Yesterday I took them both out round the woods with Mrs M and her two dogs. Pops is the smallest of the four dogs and was up to her elbows in mud but she persevered and had a great time. She did look like a small brown drowned rat afterwards and fell asleep in front of the fire for two hours!

L is struggling to get out of bed in the morning, is eating like there is no tomorrow, and is pretty grumpy. I'm thinking he's having a growth spurt, plus they work them pretty hard at school. Luckily it's only three weeks till half term now because I think he needs a rest. 

I was wondering, does anyone else think we ask an awful lot of our children these days? They are constantly bombarded with noise and information, not to mention homework (which L was getting when he was 5!), and regularly have tests and exams which are not always good for self-esteem. I sometimes wonder what the long term effects of all of this pressure will be. I think I must be an old fashioned mother in some ways because I don't think they should get homework during the holidays and I also think evenings should be about relaxing, not homework, particularly when they've been working flat out at school all day. 

I also think schools haven't got the approach right for boys' education yet- they learn differently to girls and the resistance with boys and homework is massive in comparison, to the point where it becomes a battle and a very negative experience for all concerned. No matter how many times I say to L he needs to plan his work and not leave it till the eleventh hour, every weekend is the same: a bit of homework is discovered that has been 'over looked,' usually at ten pm on Sunday when it's due in the next day, or (as happened this week) it suddenly appears at 8am on Monday when we've got 5 minutes before we need to leave. Arghhhh! I know I'm not the only one who experiences this and I'd be interested to hear your thoughts, especially if you have school-age children or you are a teacher.

I was interested in the report that came out yesterday from the Office Of National Statistics marking a sharp increase in the number of 20-25 year olds still living at home with their parents. I'm sure the recession and the ridiculous house prices we have in this country are responsible, but what really piqued my interest was that there are far more boys than girls in this age group still at home. Our experiences here are that J has been capable of organising herself for years, whereas the boys would forget their own heads if they weren't attached to their bodies. F even turned up for a weekend here last week carrying a suitcase with no clothes in it!

Is that representative I wonder? I'd lay money that it is!

I'll leave you with a nice pic of those two doggy people snuggled up by the fire on their blanket. Remember the days when Poppy wasn't even allowed to set a paw on it? Best Friends And Inseparable Now....

Hope your week is going well. We're off to see the Hand Specialist tomorrow....

CT :-)


  1. Hi. I agree with you about homework. I have three boys and it is a heck of a struggle to get any of them to do it. I ask them whether they have any and most of the time they say no but I think they must get more than I see and just not bother to do it. They are all in secondary school now so all I can do is encourage them and help them if they need it but now they are older I think they have to make up their own minds whether to do it or not. I used to work in a school and right from the start you see how different boys are to girls and how they really do need a different way of teaching. All my boys find school very boring and it is the one who in the past has had really good grades and good CAT scores etc, so could do really well if he put his mind to it, that finds school the hardest and least enjoys it. I don't think they should get homework either. My son whom I just mentioned quite regularly comes home with headache and is exhausted, but the way they do things nowadays they have to give them homework to see if they have understood/taken in what they are trying to teach them at school because I don't think that many teachers even look in all of their books.

    1. Hi Melanie and thank you for the comment :-)

      It's quite depressing really, the level of work that's heaped on our children and the way schools fail to reach a lot of boys. L is a bright spark too but homework has never engaged him. I agree that once in secondary they have to learn to develop their own sense of responsibility for their work, although I also know if I left L to it entirely it just wouldn't get done. One of the teachers told me lads often pick up more attention to their work once they hit 15. L is 12, so we'll see! If homework was minecraft or xbox games we'd be laughing here! CT.

  2. Lovely images as always, CT. There are lots of things happening outside at the moment, especially amongst the birds. I'm envious of all your siskins and I do love the domestic situation of your pigeons! Gorgeous Poppy manages to look cute even when she's tired and soaked.
    I think I heard recently that many young people are living at home until their 30s now. Even with more houses being built, I'm not sure that situation will change any time soon.

    1. It was a good morning for photography. The sun does such a good job of lifting energy and spirits :-)
      I really feel for youngsters hoping to get their first home- it's so much tougher these days than when I was looking.
      Poppy says thank you for the compliment and she wonders how Harry is doing? :-)

    2. Harry is very well but he recently lost a small front tooth. This was his fault because he lunged at something for a game (terrier-style) and tried to grab it too hard. He is not in any discomfort but he now looks a little less attractive to the females.

    3. Oh no! Poor Harry. I expect girl dogs won't mind too much- probably they appreciate the rough tough lived-in manly dog look :-)

  3. It is lovely to see your signs of spring despite all that rain - those rain drops are quite magical. Poppy seems to have grown so much too, so cute.
    Sarah x

    1. I was captivated by the rain drops- you'd have laughed if you'd seen me: on my knees with the camera wedged against various branches to hold it still. Not helped by Poppy trying to lick my nose at inopportune moments :-)

  4. Its lovely to see the signs of Spring and the reflections in raindrops photos are beautiful :)

    My daughter has always been a lot more organised and motivated than my son. She used to do her homework without being constantly nagged and get all her games kit or food tech kit ready herself. Both my son and daughter still live at home (ages 26 and 23 respectively) and I can't see how youngsters these days will get the money to buy their own place - its very depressing :(

    On a happier note - well done on the siskins - we had lesser redpolls yesterday eating silver birch seeds :)

    I do hope all goes well at the hand specialist clinic.

    1. I don't think I've ever seen Lesser Redpolls. There was a flock of lapwings in the fields up the road last week- sharing the space with enormous pink piggies and several feet of rain water :-)

      Re boys and girls and their approach to school work it seems such a common thread that I don't know why schools haven't picked up on it, or perhaps it would be hard to teach them differently with numbers etc.
      Hopefully something will change on the housing front. I can't help but think a lot of it is driven by greed as well as competition.

      Thanks re hand clinic. Fingers crossed (if that's not too much of a pun!). :-)

  5. Lovely images of plant life, the daffs will soon be out. I love the rain drops and reflections-very beautiful. My two pigeons who wait for me to feed them every day are a loving couple and I often see them grooming each other. Winterwatch was saying that the animals and plants think spring is here already.

    1. I thought the same re daffs this week. My only worry is that we haven't had enough of a proper cold snap yet to feel properly ready for Spring. Will it come or not, that's the question. Hope your doggy's joints are easing up a bit? x

  6. Those raindrop photos are beautiful. So simple, so lovely. And look at Teddy and Poppy! Best pals! Xxx

    1. It's one of the things I enjoy most about photography- that it makes you see things in detail you would otherwise pass by without really noticing. Simple things, as you so rightly say.

      Pops has this morning learnt to sit and stay when asked, instead of leaping inside Ted's mouth to steal his fish for dogs cube as usual.... xx

  7. Fantastic set of images CT! Love the cobweb! It looks like a little mosaic :) This spring like weather is fooling naturey things around this neck of the woods too. Not sure how everything will cope! A waiting game I suppose. I am so happy that Pops and Teddy are bestest buds now - they look adorable curled up together! Bracken says hi to them both!

    I usually did my homework without too much hassling from mum - but sometimes it used to be a bit of a pain and I would take a bit more encouragement. I think it might be a good idea for schools to regularly test children on the best methods of learning and sort them into sets that way. Then possibly like-minded kids would work together and maybe learn better with the teachers catering for those learning styles.


    1. I think nature probably copes better than we give it credit for with these seasonal fluctuations. As long as we don't get prolonged cold or too much more wet weather... :-)

      I like your idea about enabling like-minded kids to work together. I am sure that would have benefits. Lads seem to learn more happily with practical tasks than book-related ones. Science is a favourite subject of L's largely for that reason I think.

      Pops and Teddy sends Bracken their best too xx


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x