When rain stops play…

When you want to spend the day in the garden digging a new herb bed, weeding and potting up the last of the box of dahlia tubers (did I really order that many?) and the nearest you’ll get to it is this brave host of daffs under the trees glimpsed through a rainy car windscreen, I find it hard to rejig my plans. I have a script to work on, rehearsal schedules to organise and schemes of work to finalise for next term. I won’t be idle but I REALLY would prefer to be outside planting these under the hazel near the compost bin.

After weeks of being cooped up in classrooms for the daylight hours getting outside, even for half an hour every day is essential. My heart and mind tell me it’s spring despite the view through the kitchen window. My great grandfather and mother planted potatoes on Good Friday every year. The former was of the generation of farmers who advocated dropping your trousers and placing your bare backside on the ground to test the soil temperature in Spring. I don’t grow potatoes and prefer to use the germination of annual weeds as a reliable indicator that all is warm enough to get sowing but I have oodles of work to do.I guess today is not the day to start in earnest.


Come rain or shine

We’ve just got back from a quick trip to Wales for our school holiday beach fix. As you see the weather wasn’t unusual but we built a sand fortress of suitably epic proportions and explored the rockpools dressed in wetsuits and fleeces. Perhaps that’s the modern equivalent of sitting on the prom in overcoat and rainhood licking a cornet? We do rain very well in Wales. In fact Blaenae Ffestiniog, officially the wettest place in the UK has embraced its misfortune and held Gwyl y Glaw (a rain festival) last week, an all-weather event where the only given was that you would get wet. Genius!

We have embraced the rain this Summer,  during our openair production of Pride and Prejudice, on holiday on the South Downs and on the allotment (weeding is much easier on wet ground).

“There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” said a sometime neighbour of mine (Rannulph Fiennes) and though nothing on earth would get me to the South Pole or the summit of Everest, I’m a believer. If I were a sports court I’d be an all-weather surface. I’ve plodded the village lanes with a buggy, jumped in puddles, fashioned mud pies and dipped ponds on numerous occasions. My children are usually clad in at least a smearing of mud by the end of the day even with the distractions of TV and computers. But now 64% of children no longer play outside regularly according to a recent report. Perhaps the increasing interest in forest schools and woodland adventure days is a reaction to this and a glance at the TV listings for next week will tell you that Gareth Malone is fronting a programme about getting boys outside the classroom because  that’s where they learn best. To those of us who started a teaching career in Inner City London this is hardly news!

And for those of you who now can’t wait to get outside may I recommend trekking up the nearest windy hill early in the morning with a flask and sandwiches to enjoy at the top and sliding down on a picnic mat. Or pack a picnic and take it to the city park to climb trees, and watch the locals practising circus skills or yoga. When the children return to school on Friday you’ll find me over on the plot with my storm kettle and a hunk of fruit cake, whatever the weather.

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