Happy Tracks in the Snow

sustainable parenting working from home children books yoga storytelling Woodcraft environment

Now that’s what I call a bookcase…! February 28, 2008

Filed under: Barefoot Books stallholding,utterly random posts — paulabrown @ 8:42 pm


this image is dedicated to all of those who say ‘I can’t buy another book, I’ll have nowhere to put it!’ – you just need a hideously expensive architect to put a bookcase staircase in for you!


10 years and never a cross word…

Filed under: celebrations — paulabrown @ 8:30 pm


…so it’s been 10 years to the day since our wedding and I’d like to say never a cross word but honestly I’d be lying! No but really, it’s been a blast! Our wedding was great, I was but a child bride of 24, Nige 27 and a lot of our friends still single. My dad and his friends had a ball dancing with all the 20 somethings on tables, Nige’s football team, The Diggers, arrived in evening to revitalise the proceedings.

There was a lot of drinking, dancing and making merry. Oh and it was at a medieval castle-cum-hotel near Hexham in Northumberland with lots of mulled wine, roaring fires, Northumberland stew and large cotton wool ball snowflakes which made the pine trees outside heavy with snow and ripe for a midnight snow ball fight (which ruined my dress and shoes!). I wish I could find digital photos but it was back in the days of analogue and I haven’t scanned any!

Since we’re broke and don’t really do romantic dinner dates we took a bottle of organic cava and sat on a hill watching the stars!


Leap year

Filed under: utterly random posts — paulabrown @ 7:41 pm

For most of us, the arrival of 29 February means one extra day at work, another day on the mortgage and 24 hours’ delay in the arrival of the pay cheque. No wonder a leap year is universally regarded as unlucky. This is particularly the case for those unfortunates who can only celebrate their real birthday once every four years. For some reason, musicians tend to be born on 29 February – they include Rossini, the late avant-garde trombonist Paul Rutherford and the rap artist Jah Rule – but the most eminent UK leap-year baby is Joss Ackland, who will be 20 next Friday, though he has been on this Earth for 80 years.

Only in America is any attempt made to redress this gross injustice. Tomorrow, leap-year babies will be “honoured guests” at the Sixth Worldwide Leap Year Festival at Anthony, New Mexico. Celebrations are to include a chuckwagon breakfast, hot-air balloon rides and a huge birthday cake (“These people have been waiting for four years!”).

Pizza companies are offering leap year birthday folk free pizza. On the work front the National Trust are giving their staff the day off as you aren’t technically paid for it or at least it’s kind of unfair. But they are meant to be home lagging boilers and doing energy saving work on their homes. As I’m self employed and about to do a very long day at an exhibition (One Life, Live It! to be precise about changing your life / career / taking up voluntary work etc) I’m quite happy as it’s an extra day of money.

Don’t forget that women can ask your commitment-shy partner to marry you tomorrow… STOP PRESS my friend did this and was accepted!

Read more


You know it makes sense… February 20, 2008

Filed under: celebrations,the kids — paulabrown @ 10:19 pm

Mother’s Day is just around the corner (March 2nd to be precise) so:

  • men: heed this advice,
  • women: stop any inclination your partner may have to a) forget the date or b) celebrate your fantastic-ness with wilting carnations or underwear of a dubious nature, as  Mumsnet compiled, with help, a handy print-out guide to Mother’s Day Dos and Don’ts. Just leave this somewhere strategic – in the shed/on the X-box/next to the loo – and hopefully all those who should be truly grateful will be…

Firstly visit my Barefoot Books site – there are some brilliant books for mums – e.g. Barefoot Book of Goddesses – basically a beautifully illustrated A-Z of Goddesses or The Lady of 10,000 Names and if that doesn’t show the esteem in which you hold her, nothing will… Also Grandmother’s Stories for the kid’s gran’s or


  • Do let me have a proper lie in. That means keeping our son out of the bedroom and not letting him leap all over me while you coo sentimentally, “Look how much he loves his mum”. Bluestocking

  • Don’t be an idiot and think you can leave it to the Thursday before. If you do make this fundamental mistake, don’t try to get out of it by saying ‘But you’re not my mother’ to the mother of your children. (And if you do say this, be prepared to, run like ****.) martianbishop

  • Definitely don’t say “you’re not my mother” to your wife when she is the one who bought, held in front of you to sign, and then posted, the card for your mother… TheFallenMadonna

  • While on the way to visit your mother with her gift, don’t say to your wife, who has very recently given birth to your second child, “S***! I forgot you were a mum. I haven’t got you anything. That’s OK though isn’t it?” Suzi2

    (Note to partners: Have you got the “my mother” bit yet?)

  • Do pace yourself – try to be a little bit nice all day, rather than cooking a gourmet breakfast then spending the rest of the day asleep on the sofa. Astrophe

  • Do try to conjure up peace and tranquillity for a day, with no shouting or arguing – and perhaps a trip to feed the ducks (with or without mum). Raggydoll


  • Do buy a card that says mummy – and not “mum”, “mom” or “mother” – if that’s what your child calls her (or vice versa). And do pick the type of card your child would buy if they actually went to the shop i.e. no hideous oil paintings of lilies! Whizzz
  • Do buy a card for YOUR own mother. Astrophe

  • Don’t say – at 10pm that night – ‘Bugger, did you post my mum’s card?’ Phono

  • Don’t forget until the day itself, buy a THANK YOU CARD in desperation and try to cover up by writing “thank you for being such a good mum”. Custardo


  • Don’t buy Oil Of Olay (unless someone specifically asks for it)! Don’t buy a doormat, oven gloves or tea towels as a gift EVER. Wotznotreallyhere

  • Don’t buy your mother a lovely exotic plant in a tasteful ceramic pot, and get your wife three manky hyacinths in a plastic pot with dayglo stones on the top. It’s the floral equivalent of getting your mum Agent Provocateur undies and your wife hip huggers from M&S. LadyMardyDaisyBoo

  • Don’t buy clothes (unless it’s cashmere, or you’re very confident) and likewise underwear is best left to Valentine’s Day. Stick to flowers, chocs or things that sparkle (and we don’t mean glitter pens). Muncher

  • Don’t buy flipping carnations (ever). RubyRioja

  • Don’t say it’s all commercial rubbish! Ineedapoo
  • Don’t pay any attention when your wife says “Oh, just get the children to make me something.” Get the children to make her something, and then get your credit card out and get yourself down to (insert wife’s favourite shop). FrannyandZooey


  • Don’t get out of bed. Just refuse. ShinyHappyPeopleHoldingHands

  • …But (from a realist) don’t be surprised if you don’t get a lie in. Your kids will be banging on the door at the crack of dawn, and you’ll need your ‘grateful face’ on to meet the bombardment of garage flowers/microwaved croissants that will greet you. GetOrfMoiLand


  • TO MUMS: If you say “Don’t make a big fuss/get me anything expensive”, we will not make a big fuss/get you anything expensive. This is known as Listening, and Doing As We Are Told. You’ve only yourself to blame if we follow your instructions to the letter.

  • TO DADS: Last year the children (with quite a bit of help) made a Special Mummy book – they put in photos (decorated with stickers, glitter etc), artwork they’d done, little poems and so on. She said it was the best Mother’s Day present ever. UnquietDadA

Feel the Fear… and do it anyway February 18, 2008

Filed under: poetry and stuff,utterly random posts — paulabrown @ 9:43 pm

In that serendipitous way I keep reading things at the moment with the same theme – get out of your comfort zone / work through fear / grab life by the horns etc. It keeps coming up in fiction / non fiction etc. It’s something I have long believed anyway but I felt moved this week to write to my parents about this.

Both my parents had challenges in their young lives and both have had amazing adventures which they created themselves – they’ve lived all over the world, have countless interests, ran all sorts of businesses, met some really interesting people, thrown a lot of parties and have a lot of stories to tell. My dad (a retired helicopter test pilot) was even an actual real life explorer, doing an expedition with Sir Ranulph Fiennes in his early twenties on a Norwegian glacier where he got dragged down a river behind a boat by his neck and almost drowned (not a planned part of the expedition I hasten to add).

As I grew up they always gave me this sense that I could do anything I chose to and that I could shape my world, that there was no sense in moaning about what hand I got dealt etc. It’s something that I’m only just realising has been very important to me so I wrote to thank them for their part in this.

I came across this bit of an ode by Arthur O’Shaughnessy recently and loved it:

We are the music-makers,

And we are the dreamers of dreams,

Wandering by lone sea-breakers,

And sitting by desolate streams.

World-losers and world-forsakers,

Upon whom the pale moon gleams;

Yet we are the movers and shakers,

Of the world forever, it seems.

Also on an exploring tip:

“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” T S Elliott


Why wait…?

Filed under: poetry and stuff,utterly random posts — paulabrown @ 9:01 pm

With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.


This week

Filed under: environment,the kids — paulabrown @ 8:58 pm


Last week was great, even better now we’ve hit half term. I’m starting to rekindle my social life now things are settling after starting school, hectic work etc. I’m even going to start guitar lessons which hopefully won’t fill me with the weekly dread my clarinet lessons used to…

We got a bike trailer which turns into a jogger (above) – £50 on ebay and proving very useful for my attempts at eco-friendly classes by pushing all my Tatty stuff around with the bi-product of getting fit and losing weight. The boys love it and it’ll be dead handy at festivals too.

We got a babysitter for the first time in ages this week, generally we’ve gone out on our own with friends or stayed over with the kids at friends houses. As I left the house slightly nervous I remembered a story from my childhood. I was 12 and my mum’s best friend’s son baby sat for me – a strapping 19 year old called Alastair.

When my folks had gone out he said, “bung this helmet on, we’re going for a spin”, so I put on the adult bike helmet (which didn’t really fit) and put a jumper over my pyjamas and we set off on his motorbike round town. We rode round until it was dark and he took me home, frozen, half terrified, half exhilirated (well mostly the latter actually) and I was told never to breath a word…