WOYWW - The First Time in Forever...

Apologies if the title gave you an ear-worm (Not really - secretly hoping it did!)

Greetings fair travellers of Blogland. I'm guessing if you have landed on my page today it is for one reason and one reason only. To rummage. It's been so long since I've taken part in What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday that most of you probably wont know me. I'm Carmen aka whoopidoo - I have two desks on the go (three if I can get away with the dinner table and four in September when I head off to uni) But for now I have the workdesk in my bedroom for when it's to hot/cold/can't be arsed to go outside and my workshop desk... Recently acquired when I took over the back of the garage.

This is said workshop desk...
This morning...
No room to play...
After much tidying...
All messed up again
It's so hot out there at the moment, ridiculously hot. Like, you're having a flaming giraffe, kind of hot. Stupid weather. So I think I deserve some kind of reward for tidying it all up and messing it up again don't you? The top pictures are some discarded imperfect lino prints which will be used in collage and in the bottom picture I have moved on to building up some texture layers for a canvas base.

Any questions please feel free to ask in the comments. I'm off to link up with Julia and then will be popping by your desks. 
Thanks for stopping by today :)

Rocking My World Friday - Two in a Row!

(TL;DR: Super proud of the bubs - they are all doing well. Plus, books. Mmmm, books.)

Cor blimey Guv! She's only gone and done it!

Still no camera so expect recycled or borrowed photos to break up the meanderings. This week I thought I'd continue catching you up on (some) of the past year with the family but also start including my week to get me back on a more even keel. That OK? Well, it's what's happening so...

First up has to be this kiddo. I mentioned last week that I was doing my English GCSE. Well Phe is slap bang in the middle of hers. I tell you - I am exhausted doing one. She will have completed 18 exams by the end of this. Not only that but a lot of the teachers are getting the kids in for a couple of hours revision before each exam on the day! She says it helps. It fries my brain just thinking about it - she deserves to have done well, she has worked so hard. It's been fun doing mine alongside her too, comparing notes. Realising she knows way fancier words than me!
She also manages to still help around the house, cooks dinner on occasion and has been the babysitter while I toddle off to my English night class. That's not counting the hour a night exercising with her Mummy. The poor neighbours, the noises we make. They must wonder what the Hell is going on. We did the Dirty Dancing dance on Just Dance the other day... we had to pause at one point, looked at each other and were like "is this wrong? Is this OK? Ah, sod it!" I was Patrick Swayze. We got high score. Oh yeah. Talk about giggle. Hey - it's going to go one of two ways. Therapy when they're older or fond memories of a batty old Mum. I will say - we drew the line at attempting the lift.

You may also recall  I said she introduced me to Blue October? Ah man. Those guys. I am an emotional wreck at the moment. I used to be hard as nails. I had built up such a wall, no emotions got past. What happens when walls start to come down? I am weeping at adverts, crying over music, wanting to hug the most inappropriate people. I am not a hugger.  Let me just put that out there. She came with me to Gaurdians of the Galaxy 2 (I was working up to going alone for the first time ever.) We were both sat there trying to subtly wipe our eyes at the end. Who knew we'd need tissues? The poor dog at the moment. He looks at me so warily when I come into the room. I think he's worried I'm either going to break into song, bust out some dodgy dance moves, combination of both... or hug him. Either way... I get this look a lot.  I do serenade him. He's just an ungrateful grump.
Anyway, I might moan that she is plugged into her gadgets a lot ol' Phe. But like her Mum she needs escape from all the madness sometimes and that's her way of doing it. We have such a laugh, she's talking about uni now. Can you believe it? In a couple of years another may have flown the nest. I will miss our shenanigans. She said we will Facetime and serenade each other - can you imagine her flatmates? I feel for them already.

Devvie is due to start her third year of uni in September - that has really flown past. My uni, although a different one, will be very near hers so I am looking forward to meeting up with her more in the Summer. It's been hard while Bear has been half days, you are tied to the area. I am so proud of what she's achieved. She is getting consistently good grades. (Are they called grades at uni?) I am not in a position to help her financially so she's been holding down two jobs as well as study. I asked the other day how the  savings account we did her was was faring - she's not taken any out. She's actually put more in!! She's so organised. Apparently her housemates call her the Mum as she has set them housework rotas and everything. I don't know where she gets her organisational skills from, not from me. I've actually adopted some of her techniques myself. She's thinking about her dissertation now - scary times.

Last time she was home we started watching Cuckoo on Netflix - they have a few of the seasons on there and it's one of those programs I've always fancied but never really knew when it was on. We started from Season 1. So funny. Just so, so funny. I had to keep doing the check over at her to see if she was laughing too because I was laughing so loud I had to check she was and I wasn't just off on a laughing fit on my own. Do you do that? Is it just me? Greg Davies just cracks me up. He's so dry. If you haven't got Netflix I believe there are a few episodes on iPlayer. Of course now it's our 'thing' so I'll wait till she's home again to watch some more. 

Here's a little clip, not of the show but of a couple of the cast. I've watched it about 5 times now, today included. Each time Mister Bear has to ask me if I'm OK. Don't even realise I'm doing this wheezy kind of cough laugh. (Honestly - who develops hayfever at 40? Stupid rural pollen filled beautiful countryside. Pah.)
And...  A bonus - if you have a spare half hour, a compilation of Greg clips on Would I Lie To You? It popped up after that one. I'm currently trying to type this at 10.30pm Tuesday night. My PC is situated on the workdesk in my bedroom and Bear has snuck in to my bed and is snoring away behind me. I am sat here, in my jammie bottoms and vest, melting in the dark and I am having zero success in stifling the giggles. I can hear Phe huffing downstairs in her room (I'm in the attic - locked away in the top of the house.) I am going to have to stop watching them now - I'll either get told off by a grumpy tired teen or the boy. He's already reprimanded me for listening to music with swear words in today. "That's a naughty word. That's a swear word. Isn't it lucky I didn't copy that!" Jeeeeeeez! Watch, enjoy. 
Roo is doing well, she's on the last reading tier at school before she gets to be a free reader which means she gets to choose what books she reads. I've been really lucky with my lot - they all love reading. Ruby has got a couple of really nice illustrated Frozen books - I follow the illustrator Britney Lee on instagram. She's already promised I can have them when she's to old for them. (Just realised - Mummy gets excited to have the books when Roo outgrows them. Ummm... Hmm. Yes, I do happy clap when she gives me them too!) 
I'm pretty sure she is starting all the hormonal fun and games. We are well into the territory of slammed doors and tears over literally anything. So to have that common ground with books and also music is a godsend. She loves Quentin Blake and he's got another show on in Hastings so am going to take her to see that soon. 
The Bear - well, what can I say? He's such a character. He's in my bed again (It's Wednesday night now) and he is stinking off in his sleep. Charming. He'll be going full time to school in September and in some ways he is so ready for it. He is so full of energy and cheekiness - but in other ways. Well, he's my last baby isn't he? Much as I will be glad to get my days back and to get working and studying... it breaks my heart a tiny bit, he looks so lanky and boy-like every time I look at him. No longer a toddler. A definite boy. He loves his nature and we regularly go on bug/snail hunts. Here's a video just after we had re-homed a snail... 
He tells me that this Summer he is most looking forward to Devvie coming home (she's his favourite out of all of us.) And, now that my back is better, to get me to go on the super loop the loop slide at Wild Woods. The one that makes me want to throw up? That one? Yeah, cheers Mate. Love you too.

So that's us all caught up family wise - yes loads of other stuff has happened, obviously, but this is just a little (long) overview. So to finish off here's a few smiles from this actual week. Much shorter, RYWF's from next week I promise.

I held a starling in my hands. We have them nesting in our roof and they use my bedroom window as a kind of landing platform - it's angled into the roof. I had it open a lot wider one night where it was so muggy and she must have misjudged and flew in. Luckily, I am not sleeping well at the moment and this was at 5.30am, I was laying in bed just zoning in and out so I saw her fly in. She circled the room and then flew off downstairs to Phe's room, I went charging after her and she settled on the window sill. She let me pick her up and I could feel her little heart fluttering under my fingers, she was so soft and I could feel her fragile little bones. Such a beautiful bird. Phe opened the window, I held her out and off she went. Beautiful start to my morning.

Coincidentally, the same day I had library reservations to pick up. After snagging the books, on impulse I stopped off at McDonalds for a free coffee (thank you loyalty scheme) and took myself up to the beach to read said books for half an hour. (Perks of living on an island!) The tide was coming in so it was lovely and cool. It was only 9am so the beach was empty. Chillaxed to the max. I have decided to start doing things like this more. Especially before the madness of September hits. Even when it does, I am going to take advantage of the cheapy cheap (£3 a ticket) local independent cinema on my days off to see films I want to see occasionally - not just childrens films. It was lovely, really lovely.

Now, I can't tell you I got books and not show you...
Whoopidooings: Library books
I've had Wonderstruck on my wishlist for a while. I never realised it was such a massive book. It's told from two perspectives, one entirely written and the other entirely illustrated. It's a beauty! The Empire of Death was an accidental reservation. I have another of the authors books on my wishlist (Memento Mori: The Dead Among Us) I searched the author on the library database and this one came up so I thought I'd whack a reservation on. It's actually this I was reading on the beach and it's really interesting. It's already challenging a reaction I had after a visit to the British Museum last year. I had never been before and the mummy section really affected me, I didn't expect it to and... it's hard to explain. I knew I would find it fascinating but it really upset me seeing the tourists taking selfies in front of the mummy cases. They weren't even looking at them they were just posing in front of them, doing these stupid pouts. I wanted to shake them and say "OI! These were real people!" The more I walked through, slowly because it was mobbed, the angrier and more upset I was getting and then I was getting annoyed at myself for feeling like it... Just the first few pages in this book instantly took me back there and made me ponder the way I think and the way others think. It's going to be a good read.

Annnd another book from my wishlist might have accidentally fell into my Wordery basket this week. Don't know what I was doing on Wordery - must have been so overcome with lack of sleep that I went there in an exhaustion fuelled fog. Only explanation I can think of.  Pictures borrowed from Nobrow. Book cheaper on Wordery. (What? I'm not telling you to buy it.) 
So purrrty!
I had the self-employment mentor thing today. It was good. Lots of information to take on board, it was a group session and after this I believe it's one to one. We were to come away and think about it, then go back to the job centre if we decide to go ahead and ask to be referred back to her. They look at each business on it's own merit as to whether they think it will work or whether we need to go away and think about it some more. I'm quite lucky in that I don't need a loan, I don't need to rent premises, I've been building up my art supplies for years. I can tailor it around the kids and uni and it can change and adapt and evolve as I learn. It was definitely helpful and I'm hopeful. Tiny spark of hope flickering away there.

So - it's now gone midnight on Thursday and seriously, look how long this post is! I think in the interest of all that is sensible I will end now. Good grief - I wish I could talk to actual breathing people the way I can rattle on to you all through here. 

Many thanks for the messages I received last week. Both on here and in my inbox. So very much appreciated, always. How has your week been? What made you smile?

Thanks for stopping by :)

Rocking My World Friday - The 2017 Edition

(TL;DR version - I'm back! I missed you all. I've been up to lots - what have you been doing?) 

Well hello everyone. I seriously don't know how to start this blog post now that I shamefacedly realise it's my first post of 2017. Seriously? Seriously?

How did that happen?

But you know what? I'm just going to front it out and carry on. I have really missed my blog but have been pondering for a long time whether to start afresh with a new one (I know, I know - I ask this a lot!) or just carry on here. I think I've finally decided to just carry on. This is my comfy corner of the net, the shabby sofa where I can talk to you all in my vest and pants with my sticky up hair and chipped mug of tea and you don't care. (Though you might do now!) I've made the best friends, truly - my very best friends through here.Those of you that have met me know how awkward I am in social situations and how I've had to psych myself up before meeting you or even to do my courses. But here I don't have that invisible gag over my mouth, I can be myself. What's in my head is on these pages, warts and all. No stuttering, no tripping over my words, no talking so fast in my chav-tastic accent that people can't understand me, no awkward silence while I try and process if whats in my head is acceptable to come out of my mouth... just me. And you guys. 

I actually stopped blogging RMWF because I was worried about some people from my past reading. But you know what? How daft? Let them. I am so over that crap - Virginia doesn't know this but she pretty much saved my life when she started this project all those years ago.  That's not an exaggeration.  I've still carried it on even if I haven't blogged. I recently started a scrapbook where I stick in things that make me smile - not an all singing, all dancing piece of art scrapbook like a lot of you guys do. Just a sketchbook, pictures stuck in, postcards, little daft pictures I've done that are just practice but I love them, stickers - there's an unexpected letter I got from a penpal at Christmas, a super positive email from a tutor that peps me up when I read it - that kind of stuff. Not anything pretty, not for show on here or instagram. Just a book of smiles.

So... I'm back. If you'll have me. If not - I'll still turn up and talk to myself anyway. Never stopped me before. I should mention that this post will be a little picture light. After two years I finally managed to kill my phone and so by default, my camera - that's good going though, right? Considering the amount I have drowned, pickled, lost and smashed in the past? Two years is unheard of. The Bear has somehow managed to break my 'proper' camera too. So I may filch some images from my instagram account and Google just to break up what I can already feel is going to be an epic ramble. (That's your warning to go make a beverage or click away now.) The good news is Samsung think they can fix it. We'll see. I don't miss the phone side of things at all... Except for when I forgot to check the coolant in all that hot weather and I was driving along with smoke filling the car... then I kind of missed it! It's all good. We're all fine. Positive thought to come out of that is that I now know the importance of making sure my car isn't a thirsty beast before I set off. However I absolutely need the camera in my pocket for when I start uni in September. More on that later. Let us begin. (No - - what you've just read was the warm up.)

***
Where to start. OK, my last RYWF post was last Summer. (Jeez!) Since then I started an English GCSE Language course. Primarily to keep my brain active while I deferred starting uni until Bear starts school full time. My Access tutor had commented that I wasn't analytical enough in my journal and essay writings. Apparently I have a tendency to waffle rather than analyse. (Excuse me? Moi? Waffle? OK, maybe justified.) I thought this might help me with the essay side of things when I eventually get to uni. What I got was a whole lot more. It's unlocked a whole tidal wave of memories. I used to write! Secretly, as a teen, I used to write. Oh my God, such angsty teenage doom filled crap but I loved it. Write and shred, write and shred. I used to write comic strips too. I never told anyone that - I don't think anyone knows... apart from maybe my Mum. I think she might have found one of the more risque ones once and that kind of put an end to that. (I nearly died!) I'm reading loads. I kind of dwindled off with my reading - my memory is so shocking that it takes me a while to absorb things. As a teen I could read a book a day but the more kids I have, the less brain seems to have been left. I had been getting into graphic novels over the last few years thanks to my friend, Sarah. This satisfied my hunger for stonking good stories and as you know, I've always loved a good art book. Plus - I'm never one to pass up a beautiful childrens book - for me. Kids can keep their mitts off! But my cravings for history or trivia has usually been down to documentaries. Seems I'm a visual learner. But my reading is getting better and better, I'm getting faster, absorbing it more and actually noticing the techniques used too. Probably still can't name the techniques if you pushed me but I know they are there.

I love my Wednesday night class, literally my night out each week. I started to realise the classroom was unlocked early so would get there and just sit and enjoy a half hour of quiet before everyone else arrived. This place is mental - that little bit of quiet is just amazing - I even planned out an argument for my job centre appointment while sat there this week (Explain that later.) Just bliss. The poor tutor probably arranged it so he could work. I just took advantage. I like him too - the kind of person you would want as your phone a friend. It's kind of intriguing when someone has an answer for everything and not in the bull crap kind of way... or maybe I'm just gullible. Wait - ... 

We had our first exam this week and our last lesson. *insert sad face* I'm really going to miss it all, surprisingly so. Last exam is Monday - trying to think of a positive to end this bit on but am kind of sad now. 

How about a picture - here's what I'm reading right now. Not solidly - I have a big old pile by my bed. Dreams & Shadows is in the car and Florence & Giles is on my Kindle app... caught up on that in one of my quiet half hours too. I bet when Samsung wipe my phone they lose my place. Ah poop.
I am happy to say that, at this point, I recommend them all. Bill Bailey has me snorting out loud but he always has done - ever since Black Books. I love him. That one is both educational and humorous, don't you know. I am thinking of cranking out a few reviews, been a while. Might just do it... but for now - yep, these are good 'uns. 

I'm also still enjoying abusing *cough* making use of the local library and it's purchase request facility that they have hidden away on their website. I think I'm up to 16 confirmed purchases now. I've only ever had one denied and that was because it was an American publisher and they just couldn't get it. People of Kent - you are welcome. Aren't you lucky I have such amazing taste in books? 

The local job centre called me in for a chat at the beginning of the year. Bear will be turning 5 in September so they wanted to help me back to work. To say I was terrified was putting it mildly. I have been "just" a Mum for so long. I'm no longer qualified for anything. I was also scared crapless that this was the one thing that would stand in the way of my getting to uni. I had visions of going in and explaining my plans and being laughed right back out of the door. Do you know what? I couldn't have been more wrong. The first lady who helped me was just lovely - she supported my going self-employed whilst doing uni at the same time. She said I had a unique selling point (liking weird, creepy stuff? ) She seemed surprised that I had done the Access already and was now doing my GCSE. She referred me to a self-employment enterprise scheme. Unfortunately that fell through as they were over subscribed so I have been waiting to get onto another scheme. I had another appointment with my new adviser today - again, terrified that this one would laugh at me for being ridiculous. Again, couldn't have been more wrong. He wants to see some of  my work next time, purely because he's interested and likes cartoons. He's already got me an appointment next week on a mentor scheme and thinks running a business and using the uni to learn but also use their equipment for work side of things is perfect - he's pushing me to look into writing and self publishing as an end goal and he was really supportive when I said that was already, secretly, my end goal. 

I'm beginning to think it's actually me who has the problem? It's me who thinks I'm being ridiculous? I'm being met with nothing but support. From tutors, from family, from friends... Even the uni tutors, when I contacted them to say I will have to leave every day at lunch time to be home from Canterbury in time for the last school run...  I offered to drop out if I was taking the mickey - they said they would support me all the way. They would get me into early workshops rather than afternoons and as long as I can catch up at home on the work - they can't see a problem. Is it me? Why would I think my dream is ridiculous? I've wanted this for over 20 years now. More than that. All my life. I don't know. As it is I am starting full time, kind of part time but full on at home in September. I am getting set a Summer Project and reading list in August. Ooer! The degrees official name is BA in Illustration and Animation. 

I know one thing. I cannot wait to be able to say, when asked what I do... "I'm a self-employed illustrator, full time student and a Mum." I usually just skirt around ways of not saying I'm unemployed. I hate it.

Anyway. I have spent a lot of time clearing out the back of the garage to turn it into my new workshop/studio in preparation. People that follow me on Facebook or Instagram - sorry. I am unashamedly reposting the pictures from there. I am conscious of how long I am going on now - I'll wrap this up soon. 
Whoopidooings: Studio prep
Sweeping, painting, tarpauling...
Whoopidooings: Studio prep
Someone thinks the new table is for him! Workshop in  use.
There will be a lot more room when that aviary is gone, then I'll just roll the tarpaulin down all the way and move the shelving down too. It's already way more room than I'm used to. Fear not though, the old shedio still lives. Claimed by Roo and she made me remove everything! And I mean everything of mine out of there. I thought I'd at least get to store some bits in there still. Nope. She was harsh!
Whoopidooings: Studio prep
My brand new table piled high and they buggered off to paint! I was played!
Finally,  I would say for about three weeks both Phe and I have been exercise partners. We do just over an hour a night, most nights of Just Sweat on one of the Just Dance games and then use the vibration plate (henceforth known as the wobble board.) For the record - I cannot Move Like Jagger if my life depended on it. But I move. I do planks and push ups and some weird thrust and squat bicep curl thing on the wobble board. I hate the man on the DVD. I want to wipe that smug smile off his face so much. Yes. Yes I am 70% out of breath, thank you for checking. In fact I may just be nearly 100% out of breath. BUT, although my weight-loss is slow and steady this time round, my body shape is changing quite rapidly. I am getting a waist and arm muscles and... wait for it... A BUM! Whoop whoop! But the best thing? I have had no pain. That is ZERO pain, nada, none, zip in my back for this entire two weeks. For those that don't know I have a spinal condition called Scheuermanns Disease which causes curvature of the spine and was basically explained to me that one side of my spine is a little longer than the other. It can develop into other complications later on.

Since having Mr Bear it's been a lot worse - to the point that I had my worst ever attack at Christmas and seriously thought I was going to be in a wheelchair very soon. I literally couldn't move. I cannot remember a time in my life when I have ever been pain free - it's just much more manageable at some times than it is others. So this - this is like some kind of miracle happening right now. I can only put it down to the combination of exercises we are doing and all the work I'm doing round the house. Whatever it is - I know I have to keep it up and somehow, when uni starts, still make time to do that every night. To have little Mister hug me so tight and tell me that he loves my back being better because I can play with him. Well. Worth it's weight in gold isn't it?

I shall leave you now with Blue October. Pheeb introduced me to them last year and we have since seen them in concert in March. Best concert of my life. No lie. First one I have ever sobbed my eyes out. I wasn't alone. The lead singer, Justin, is a very autobiographical singer. The lyrics to the songs... although about his own experiences are very relate-able to many people even though you may not have experienced what he has. They fit.  He has the ability to rip my heart out of my chest, wring it out and hand it back to me on a plate, after it's been kicked round the floor for a bit. I feel like I should have grown up with them and introduced her as some of the music is from around that time. But I've found them now - at just the right time when I've had some seriously weird emotional kaka going down. I may even have to admit to overdosing slightly on the music but I love them. This one in particular. Listen to the words. Then go to You Tube, type in Blue October and listen to the mix of songs that comes up. You can thank me later. Soundtrack to my life at the moment.

I lied, I'm not done - I remembered something else. The Twitter Art Exhibit came to the UK for the first time ever, to Stratford upon Avon, so I was able to see my contribution on display. It sold, someone forked over cold hard cash for it and the charity, Molly Olly's Wishes raised so much money - thousands of pounds,  for such a worthy cause. The buyer sent me a lovely message. Plus I was able to meet up with Sarah, one of my bestest buds who I rarely get to see. I also bought some beautiful art myself.  Loved it - I urge anyone, all of you to take part next year it's such an amazing event and so easy to just do a postcard. Such a small thing that makes such a huge difference.
Whoopidooings: Twitter Art Exhibit
I will say goodbye now, if you made it this far...? Seriously, thank you. I'll be back with a normal RYWF next week. Arty type posts will resume both here and on instagram when I get my phone back. But that's you caught up with me at least :)

Hugs x

Junker Jane Style Monster ATC's

Hello Strangers,

It's high time I dusted down my blog proper and caught up with everything. In the Summer I took part in a swap over at the ATC's For All forum. We were to take inspiration from Junker Jane monster dolls and create 3 ATC's to swap. The forth was an extra for the host. I had never heard of Junker Jane but on googling, loved her little creepy monsters. They reminded me of the empathy monsters we created in the Willowing free class - remember that? Which might account for the shape of my first one - completely unintentional - just seeing it now!
Whoopidooings: Junker Jane Style monster - ATC #1
Whoopidooings: Junker Jane Style monster - ATC #2
Whoopidooings: Junker Jane Style monster - ATC #3
Whoopidooings: Junker Jane Style monster - ATC #4
Mine were done using acrylics and fineliners. This was the selection I got back. Don't they look  like they just belong together? "Patches" the Cat is by GwennieJo, The dog and "100% Chance of Rain" is by our lovely host Cheryl Ann, "Jimmy" is by H. Dietz and "Belinda" off to the side is by DmyLadyBug aka Angie Wilkins. I think they are a mixture of watercolours and pens, but they don't say for sure. They look amazing in real life. My camera work is getting worse - I swear. 
It was a lot of fun and I forgot how much I enjoy working on such small scale. I'll definitely do it again.

Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holidays Weeks 3 & 4

Fair warning - Two weeks worth. Lots of waffle. Lots of pictures. Settle yourself down with a cuppa, skim through or beat a hasty retreat. Your choice.

(TL;DR version: Lots of cheapish fun with the kids. Lots of library visits. Lots of books.)

Last week Roo was at Nanna's house so Pheebs and I took Mr Bear to Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway - a local steam train which used to service the paper mill in the area. He was so excited - he's obsessed with trains and diggers and trucks... anything vehicular. One of the carriages is open so you can lean out and see the steam puffing out at the front of the train. He absolutely loved it.
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - SKLR light railway
When you get to the other end of the journey there is a little museum set up, explaining their history. There's also a tiny little nature area where they are encouraging butterflies and insects etc - they've also set up a stag beetle hill but we didn't spot any on this occasion. Bear was more than happy to just explore though - he's such a nature boy.
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - SKLR light railway
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - SKLR light railway
Poser much?
Behind the compound is the Saxon Shore footway which in one direction would have taken us home (eventually) and in the other direction would have taken us towards Hastings and Rye. (Perhaps after a few days walk!) We walked a little way along - it was a shame the tide was out. We've decided, Pheeb and I, to try and do the walk home when the kids are at Nannas next time.
Whoopidooings: Rocking Friday - Saxon Shore footway

Whoopidooings: Saxon Shore footway
A couple of days later we went to Maidstone museum - another first. We were on the hunt for dinosaurs! Yep - he loves those too. And we found them. Bear decided he needed a tooth inspection and wondered where dinosaurs go when they have a sore tooth. 
Whoopidooings: Dinosaur at Maidstone Museum
He also loved the Treasures from Trash exhibit they currently have on display. Especially the (you've guessed it) vehicles made from tin cans. The skill and craftsmanship that went into these pieces was amazing - I liked the little insects the best.
Whoopidooings: Treasures From Trash at Maidstone Museum
Whoopidooings: Treasures From Trash at Maidstone Museum
We finished up the day with a ride on the Octonaughts submarine in the shopping center. At £1 a go Pheebs decided we should get our moneys worth. Who do you think is having more fun here?
Whoopidooings: Octonaughts ride.
This next picture is just  after Bear and I went to the library, we read some books, got some out and then headed to the local McDonalds. It's been recently refurbished so he felt duty bound to inspect the premises. They've put tablets on the tables so we spent a good while in there having lunch and playing Angry Birds together - he is way better at it than me!

When we got home he just zonked, after I took this he awoke long enough to sleep walk over to me for a cuddle and then went back to sleep. It was lovely.
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Tired Out

And now we come to the book portion of my Rocking moments of which there are many and be thankful I haven't even included them all.

Firstly, I got this one from the library the other week. I was just wandering the shelves while the kids were lost in a wonder-filled haze in the childrens section. This one was facing out on display and - I confess - I do judge a book by the cover. I liked the look of it and I liked the Grimm comparison on the back. I've never read or even heard of the author before. 
Whoopidooings: Bookish Rocking My World Friday - Uprooted - Naomi Novik
Well, I ended up staying awake till 2 am on two consecutive nights reading this one! Really enjoyed it! This is going to sound daft - but it took me back to the golden time of fantasy films - you know, Labyrinth, Princess Bride, too many to mention. It had that feel about it to me. I absolutely ate it up! I think if you enjoy fantasy and fairy tale and twists on old themes. (Damsels being sacrificed to the dragon to name one) and you like interesting forests that eat people... yeah, you'll like this one! (That's probably the main bit that takes me back to the films that I love so much!) It's been a long while since I've sat and had my attention held like that - my memory is not brilliant and I usually have to re-read stuff many times. Probably why I've been enjoying graphic novels more lately. But I'll be looking out for more by this author.

Next up - two more that I've got out, both graphic novels. I've wanted to read Mr Punch for ages -  in case you hadn't realised, Dave McKean is one of my favourite artists and I will read absolutely anything that he collaborates with Neil Gaiman on. Suffragette was recommended to me by Amazon and so I did a search on the library system and it came up. Whacked a reserve order on it and it was at my local library within days. I'm making so much use of this facility at the moment. Did that with Mr Punch too.
Rocking My World Friday - Graphic novels - Library books
Another thing I'm loving about them is that if you can't find the book in their system you can put in an order request where they actually (might) buy the book. So far I have put in 4 requests and they have bought all four. You are then first in the queue to borrow them. I'm awaiting two lino cut/print ones that are showing as bought - quite newish releases. I think it's a brilliant idea. When you don't have that many pennies and then the books are there for everyone else too. I suppose it gives them an idea what people want as well.

Then, a surprise visit from my friend with an even bigger surprise of a late birthday present. She gave me a £10 book token! Woohoo! So when we were in Maidstone we had a good long leisurely look around Waterstones. I'd forgotten how good it is to spend ages in a real bookshop - most of mine are bought online these days. I'm going to fix that! I came away with another I've wanted for ages. And because of the token it only cost me 99p! Yeah!
Rocking My World Friday: Through The Woods
Finally at the end of that week - this letter came through the door. from Roo. Updating me on all her antics with Nanny. It did make me smile.
*pause to stretch*

Moving on to last week then.

We paid a long overdue visit to Shorne Woods Country Park - yet another first. We are definitely exploring our local area more this year. A staycation maybe? It's truly beautiful there with play areas for the children. Really well signposted trails... mutant mosquitoes but we wont dwell on them! We'll definitely be going back. There are various sculptures dotted around - this was my favourite by local artist Steve Portchmouth.It's called Spider Tickles Worm. Love it. 
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
We tackled the Heritage trail for our first go and it was a good hour and a half of walking. Lots of nature. I was pretty pleased with this shot of a new fern peeking through the woodland floor.
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Roo is not a nature person in any way, shape or form. She is scared of literally everything. Reason we haven't done so many of these local walks is because of that reason (Bear is the complete opposite and will charge headlong into everything - which is why I have aged 10 years since having him!) But she has been facing her fears a lot this year. I'm so proud of these photos because she really got into the thick of it and was having fun and just being a kid!
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Bear in a tree - Grr!
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Bear posing in a tree - not so Grrr!
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
This week Nanna came to stay. We thought, while we're on a roll, we'll throw some more nature in the mix. Devvie came back for a surprise couple of days too so the five of us headed off to the Wild Woods. This one wasn't a first and Roo was won around because she knows there is a GIGANTIC playpark there. There are also bears (sleeping because of the heat) Wolves (sleeping because of the heat) Lynx (sleeping because of the heat) and many many more animals. (most of which were sleeping... because of the heat.) We're thinking of maybe going back when the weather is cooler. It was a really lovely day.
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
 Everyone loves a picnic - especially when there are chickens roaming around the tables... 
OK, not everyone - that was a step to far for Roo. She wolfed her food and legged it to the park - there may have been screaming.
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
She's not grimacing, she's doing the trout pout. *sigh*
I have spoken to her. I am allowed to slap her if she does it again.
*shakes head*
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Devvie took Roo home with her for a couple of nights sleepover. Before Nanny went home, she and I took Bear to Leysdown. Now, Leysdown has a fairly bad name. It's a small arcade seaside town on the island. It has been fairly run down (and rough) in the past. But I can honestly say they look like they have really spent a fair bit of money trying to bring it back to life. I've taken the kids on three day trips up there now this Summer and not spent more than £20 each time. That will have included chips, ice-creams, arcades, an allocated amount of rides that they have to carefully consider and choose... and then there are a couple of playparks and of course the beach. £20 for a day out can't be sniffed at in my books. We're going again this weekend.
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Money well spent!
Actually - we took Nanny home and Dad liked the sound of our day out so much that we went this weekend just gone as well.
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - Summer Holiday Staycation

Other things that have made me smile this week:

  • The £1 garage  I got from the boot fair - it was filthy, looked like it had been stored in someones garden. After a good scrub, three buckets of water later... it's a Fisher Price one and the kids love it. Been playing with it solidly since it came back in from being cleaned. Mum would have been proud.
  • Got my certificates through from my course! My distinctions were for my final piece and work related stuff, my merits were for the writing, descriptive type of stuff (less waffle - more analytical!) I'm well chuffed!
  • A couple of cooler nights have meant being able to snuggle under my duvet.
  • Tilda coconut rice being on offer in Tesco. (I don't buy many brands but this rice is gorgeous!)
  • Silver Crow sightings.
  • Unexpected gifts in the post (Thank you Sue x) 
  • Butterflies that flock to our weeds in our tiny back yard. Good enough reason not to get out there and pull them up right? 
And I think that will probably do - I'll try not to miss a week and do another mammoth post!
What about you - how has your week been?
Thanks for stopping by :)

I'm now going to link up with Virginia.

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