Saturday, January 01, 2011

Goodbye 2010 - Welcome 2011.

Come on then, I'm ready for you 2011.  

I am fully expecting this year to be utterly fabulous.  I won't be taking any nonsense and will firmly be sending any silliness away with a flea in its ear and bags packed.

2010 had it's share of ups and downs, but I can only look back on it with a great deal of fondness.

In January we had a mixed bag of weather.  We had lovely walks along Teignmouth seafront that looked like this...

The Ness Basking in the Winter Sun

followed just four days after by scenes such as this...

When all around you lose their heads...

Biting in so many ways

The kids really hadn't seen such a flurry of snow, they had such fun!


and even Callum was persuaded that it was cold enough to warrant full hat and scarf armour...

Porcelaine Skin

Ten days later we were back to this...

A Sunny Winters Day - Torquay Harbour Bridge

January also blessed us in the form of new friendships, with us meeting the lovely Mirjam and her lot :).

February came along with haste, and I loved it for the most part (although hated the new cooker fiasco!) After meeting Mirjam, we set about fulfilling a long term goal of mine - creating a home-education group for the locals :)  Our first meeting was held at my house on February 1st.  It was a success - with 10 children and a relaxed atmosphere. The next meeting on February 8th saw 14 children...the group started to grow.

I discovered that I loved baking bread and actually, this home-baking and cooking from scratch malarkey was pretty fun and rewarding.  Then I had to succumb to the pressure of working within a rather mediocre budget.  But from that negative, a huge positive was born.  I began meal planning, budgeting, and our food intake just got better. We started to eat healthier and all felt much better for it.  Our purchasing of shop stocked junk diminished, and we began baking and creating luscious cakes and delicious biscuits instead.  Apparently my meal planning has proved to be inspirational to more than one person out in the big wide world - I love that :)

February saw a flurry of activity on behalf of my unschoolers.  Science experiments were completed...

Young Scientist

Rubber balls were made...

Science - Rubber Balls

We read. A lot...

Maths and a Snuggle.

Hmm, what shall I make today?



and played games...

Playing in front of the fire.

Callum told me he loves me this much...

Mummy, I love you *this* much!

and the group was growing, 16 children and counting....

Sadly, peace was shattered when I dug out my soapbox and ranted.  Oh boy, did I rant!  My cage was well and truly rattled by a certain Fern Britton and the media perception of Home-Educators.  You can read my steam coming out of my ears moment here...
March saw me firmly standing on that soapbox, shouting aloud to all who would listen.  I wrote about freedom of choice here

The group meetings were still successful, with this meeting at Mirjams firmly implanting itself in my mind for all the wrong reasons...

On the 3rd March 2010 we celebrated 7 years of our freedom from school.  Freedom from the system.  Freedom of choice.  

After that we suffered a bit with a visit from the lurgy.  Things fell apart in the Pollard household. Routines got broken and we struggled a bit with feeling out of sorts.  I had lots of time to reflect upon things and wrote this post after a rather frustrating conversation with somebody...

By the end of March we were back to full strength again.  We joined in with another Home-Ed group and went orienteering at a beautiful place called Parke in Bovey Tracey.

Desperately need to socialise, obviously

We looked for fungus...

Ear Fungus

and signs of Spring were in abundance...

Spring Arrival


With April came much fun.  Time was spent enjoying the garden...

Feeding Time


Drawing board

love you mum

Dinner for 2

We hunted for creepy crawlies...


and enjoyed the sunshine at the village park...


My Gorgeous Boy

We were fortunate enough to gain new bunk beds for the boys from Freecycle, which freed up much needed space in their bedroom, and became so blissfully happy I didn't have anything to blog about!  There are only so many "everything is fabulous" postings you can write ya know ;)

We did have some lovely days in such beautiful surroundings.  A group meeting at Decoy Park for one...

I want to spread my wings

Showing the boys how it's done

The children discovered a love for woodworking...


Callum became Kurt Angle, the wrestler apparently...

Wrestler in the making - apparently

and lots of time was spent creating in the kitchen...

Kids in the Kichen 

Friendships were growing rapidly and for the first time in my life I started to feel really accepted.  Being invited to spend time with lovely people outside of the group was a real boost for my self-confidence.  I had friends, and they were such a blessing.

The children were incredibly close in their relationships with each other, and I remember smiling broadly as I captured these moments...


Sibling Love - Oldest and Youngest

Happy Family

Enid Blyton Reading Time

Tiegan made me cry when she picked these flowers for me...

My Precious little girl

They became inspiration for our special Thinking Corner, where quiet time could be spent...

Our New Thinking Corner

April gave me food for thought when I "Listened to my Children".  It was quite eye-opening for me, and a lesson learnt.

We discovered Hopes Nose, an area so close to us but one we'd never ventured to before.  With views such as these...

Hope's Nose - Torquay, Devon 

Admiring the View - Hope's Nose, Torquay

and so many pools to explore...

Carefully does it - Rockpooling at Hope's Nose

How could we not fall in love with such a place?

Roll on May.  We had visitors staying with us for a while in May, so things went a little haywire, both for our routine and blog.  I discovered a love I didn't know I had.  I discovered that actually, despite my school experiences, I could enjoy painting and people quite liked what I painted.

Green with Envy ATC/ACEO

6 x 4 Postcard Challenge - Umbrella

I made a start on an art journal...

Journal Page Under Construction

Sketchbook - Purple Goddess

and painted my first canvas...

A Mother's Love

We joined in with another H.E group and their hunt for Mermaid Purses at Goodrington.

Callum in particular ADORED that day...

Cheeky chap


We welcomed this furry little fella into our lives...


Oscar is Tiegan's bugsy and she adores him.  She has taken full responsibility for his care, and I am very impressed by her commitment and enthusiasm - it has never waned for a second. 

We took delivery of our little caterpillar friends ready for the 2010 butterfly project, 5 of them in all...

Caterpillars - Day 1

and had lovely family time on Dartmoor....

Meldon Resevoir

Meldon Resevoir - Scenery

Laughing more


Merrivale - Crossing Bridges

Merrivale - Climbing

May was also a month of sadness and smiles.  Sadness as we waved goodbye to my parents, leaving us for a new life in Spain.  Smiles because Lee got offered a job - after a year of unemployment.

On to June - halfway there!

We sowed seeds, watched our caterpillars grow, and planted vegetables.

Our baby ladybirds arrived...

Day 1

Ladybirds Day 1

growing rapidly into these on Day 4...

Ladybirds - Day 4

Our caterpillars were also rapidly progressing...

Caterpillars - Day 8

It was the first year of Ladybird study, and quite interesting.  Not sure we will repeat it in 2011 though, it didn't quite have the same awe-inspiring momentum that the Butterflies have. 

Chelsea started book-reviewing for a children's book website, and monthly book club attendance began.

We discovered Torquay's Dinosaur World and loved it...
Quality of the Models


July saw us reading lots about religion.

Early Morning Reading

and the two younger ones took it upon themselves to do experiments all on their own...

Experiment time again...

The older two were invited to a Teen Consultation at the library, which was a good experience for them, but they felt as if it was a time-wasting exercise with no-one really wanting to listen to their views.

We were really relaxing now as the schools had broken up for the long holidays and the pressure was off us to "work".

Our ladybirds grew up and were able to be released.



Volcanoes were made...

Volcano Model Making

Volcano under construction

Chelsea seemed to suddenly grow up...


Tiegan looked as beautiful as usual...

My princess

and Joseph and Chelsea played silly-whatsits at the park :)

Torturing each other

July found a new love - Monkey Platters!

Monkey Platter

Games were played and enjoyed...

Level Headed - Balancing Game

and we had the most amazing trip to Tintagel in Cornwall...

Tintagel - Wow

Tintagel Castle Ruin

Tintagel - Brotherly Love

Tintagel - Fun


The children inexplicably discovered a love of Workbooks...

Sunday morning

Studying hard

even the little one is at it!

and this little scrumptious fella joined our family....

Our new kitten

That's my boy!  Harry the Kitten

We had some fabulous family walks where we saw amazing wonders of nature...

Nature's Blanket


and games got played...

Now Scrabble time

Blackberries were picked...

Family blackberry picking

Look what I've got

We had a complete day of absolutely NO learning taking place.  Remember this....?

We had a great day (albeit a little wet) joining the Coast and Countryside Trust for a walk around Cockington....

The cottage at Cockington

We had a lovely afternoon at Brixham...

Father and Son

Simple things bring such pleasure.

Beach Visit

and purchased the great value season ticket for the fabulous Torquay Dinosaur World - which Callum ADORES.


Baby T-Rex

The weather was a little unpredictable throughout August, but that just led to puddle splashing...



Puddles are fun for all!

I couldn't let the kids have ALL of the fun...

Big kids like puddle jumping too!

We inspected trees...



admired breathtaking views of Haldon...


played with sticks...

It's bigger than me!

On guard!

admired beautiful creatures that share our world...


and 14 year old Chelsea wrote her blog piece about socialisation...

I put together a welcome pack for new home-educators joining our group, and we enjoyed a lovely meet up at Cockington...
Cockington Blacksmith Forge

Socialisation issues? -  Cockington

We made a start on the Pollard home re-vamp...

New Look Lounge

New Look Stairs

and rounded up our August with a fabby-dozy group meet to Occombe Farm, with 16 adults and 23 children along for the ride....

Beautiful Blooms

Beautiful Blooms3

Group Meeting


August also saw my husband back out of work again, after just 3 months in a job that seemed perfect.  Obvious financial stress followed, but I firmly rebelled against negativity and kept on smiling.  We got through it, re-budgeted, continued with the meal planning, and it hasn't affected our life at all.  We aren't ones to be beaten, even if I was at the time heavily pregnant with little over two months to go before the arrival of our 5th child...  ;)

September saw me joining the Exeter Home-Edders at their table for the Exeter Green Fair.  I have had four people contact me regarding Home-Ed since speaking to them at the fair - I count that as a success :)

September was also a month for fabulous visits from friends.  I have many fond memories of chatting in our living room with cuppa in hand :)

We made a start on our Seasons Wall...

Autumn Wall Display under construction

We enjoyed a small (but perfectly formed) group meeting at Decoy, where we stumbled across a very eager to teach ranger who was Apple Pressing...

Apple Pressing at Decoy Park

Decoy Park - Apple Pressing

We had more family walks...


Beach Exploration

We baked..

In the Oven

We picked apples and blackberries, and I started thinking about home-ed life with a new addition - just how would I cope with a newborn babe?

October saw us laughing lots at Harry Kitten...

Can I take your order please?

Callum becoming best buddies with our furry family members...

With his pals

and more family walks and pond exploration...

Checking out the Pond

We collected many, many conkers...

Finding Natures Treasure

Conker Treasure

and, finally - at 35 weeks pregnant - felt able to share my joyful news...

I've got something to tell you...

I was well and truly spoilt by a surprise Baby Shower, just how amazing are my friends???

Baby Shower Goodies


A gift for me from a very special friend.

I looked like this...

Pregnant Me! - With 5 weeks to go.

and we enjoyed more happy group meetings, where I loved taking pictures of my children's poses...

Deep in thought. grey

Callum - Greyscale


My parents came over to visit and it was the first time that we had seen them since their departure in May. 

It was also the month when our roof was finally fixed, and the whole in our dining room ceiling was finally plastered over - it's only taken 5 years of us living here.  We are now living leak free - yippety yay!

Of course, October 2010 will always be remembered for the amazingly fantastic home-birth that brought with it the utterly gorgeous Taisia Martha Pollard.

Little Treasure

Taisia Martha Pollard

We love her, more than words could every describe, of course.

Then came November, and I could feel the year slipping away at such a scary speed.

We fought hard to try to re-find our way again with a new arrival in our midst.  Taisia quickly proved to be a cuddle-bum, only sleeping during the day with someone's arms firmly wrapped around her.  At night we co-sleep with her at my side.   As time progressed, it seemed that Taisia is actually only happy when someone is holding her, so I have been wearing the sling a lot.  I don't mind though.  At what other time in a child's life is a child so needy, wanting to be so close, wanting to feel utterly safe and secure that they can't bear to be parted or their whole world seemingly collapses in a heap around them?  I read a quote that said "If I can't hear your heartbeat, then you are too far away..."  that fits Taisia to absolute perfection.  

Life went on though.  We did baking...

Mince Pie Baking

Mince Pies

Made conker people...

Conker Carol


Ancient Greece Lapbook

Completed our seasons wall...

Our Autumn Display

Had a once again very successful LA visit (yes, 2 weeks after the birth of Taisia!), and had many visits from friends wanting to coo over the new arrival. 

We met up with one of the H.E groups for a walk around National Trust grounds in Newton Abbot.  We all really enjoyed the day, and had great conversations with lovely people.  It was this meeting I think that really made us want to get to know the group better and we made a promise to ourselves to get more involved.

Home ed group

Path at Bradley Manor

Bradley Manor

Three days later it was back to meeting up with the Teignbridge and Torbay home-ed group.  This time we headed back to Decoy and met up with fabulous families, old friends and new :)   Even though there were 5 of our usual families sadly absent, there were 31 adults and children!  I really didn't think at the time we started the group that it would grow so rapidly.  It seems almost weekly we are getting new people enquiring about home-education and local groups in the area, we certainly are a growing gang of freedom seeking people!

We really loved our ramble around the lake...

Home-Ed meeting

Callum at Decoy


and the play at the park.  

Chelsea turned the grand ol' age of 15.  I've peered under beds and peeked into crannies, but I just can't find out where on earth those years have sneaked off to.  I really can't believe that I - that is ME - have been a mother for 15 years!  Scary.  Surely it just can't be possible?  I don't feel that old!

I had strict instructions to make another "goth-like" cake.  I was pretty happy with last years effort and had no idea what to do this year.  I actually changed the design practically at the last minute and came up with this...

Chelsea's birthday cake

She loved it - thank goodness :)

Finally, we reach the magical month of December.

We had a fabulous (albeit very small) group meeting to Dartmoor.  It was cold, but oh so worth it!

Leading the Troops

Follow the Leader

Houndtor, Dartmoor

The view from Houndtor

There were only two other families there, but it still meant that there were 9 children and 6 adults :)  It was really nice to be able to spend time getting to know them better within a smaller group actually.  We have lots in common - especially a love of walking and camping - so we made plans to get-together in 2011.  

We had an amazing trip to Bygones in Torquay too, organised by a very special friend.  I had never been there before, but was utterly taken by the exhibits, you can see more at this posting here, but here is a quickie sample...

The Toy Shop


We were treated to a fabulous meal at Caseys American Diner in Paignton for Joseph's birthday...

Cool Decor at Casey's Diner in Paignton

Casey's Diner in Paignton

More about that fabby place here...Caseys Diner Visit.

and I had a bit of a success when fighting for Scorpion Rights ;) 

I made Joseph's birthday cake, with "punk" as the theme...

Birthday Cake

and I made Tiegan's too.  She requested it be "Hello-Kitty like"....

Hello Kitty cake

Christmas was just fabulous.  Although it felt strange not to be with my parents for the big day, it was actually really nice just being us.  No pressure, no time-scale, no routine.  We made it up as we went along and thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Santa has been!

We welcomed the New Year in with a wonderful family.  Although we have only just met recently, they are already incredibly important to us and we felt privileged that they chose to share New Year's Eve with us in our little home.  

2010 has been an amazing year.  One in which has seen me gain self-confidence as my friendship circle has grown.  I have been extremely blessed by meeting truly fantastic people whom I am fortunate enough to now firmly be able to call FRIENDS.  

Yes, I, Julia Pollard have true friends. 

Friends I know I can trust.  Friends I know I can call on in need, and hopefully, friends who know I am there for them - whenever and wherever.  Many ghosts have been well and truly laid to rest for me in 2010.

Thank you to each and every person who has crossed paths with me and my family in 2010, whether it be through a virtual friendship online, or a "real life" friendship out in the big wide world.  All of you are amazing, very important to me, and I offer you much love and huge hugs of thanks for making 2010 truly special.

2011 is going to be even better as I have so many wonderful people in my life.


  1. Hi Julia

    Thank you for that post, I really enjoyed reading it (infact it made me feel a little teary!) It's amazing how much you actually get done in a year and its only when you look at it over photo's that you realise.
    Wishing you all a beautiful new year from all of us xxx

  2. Great post!
    I'm so happy that we are friends #youknowwhatimean


  3. beautiful post Julia, what lovely sentiments. And what a wonderful year you've had - so many lovely memories - it makes me chuckle though as we've been to so many of the same places during the last year (Dartmoor, Halden, Decoy etc etc) I kept looking at the photos, thinking, we did that too! This year, it would be lovely to meet up with you all and do some of those places together. Christo is still not keen to give up his school attendance, but hopefully there will be a time when we can all connect and perhaps his eyes can be open to another way of life. Fingers crossed eh. So looking forward to following your adventures in 2011 in any event. With love Jules x

  4. What a wonderful sum up of the year Julia, the photos are amazing, it has made me want to take more photos this year of the family that I can look back on. It is lovely to see all your family in the photos, a family affair which is what home edding should be about. May your 2011 be blessed and sparkly xxxxx

  5. Anonymous9:34 pm

    Lovely post Julia - Hope you and your family have a fantastic new year x

  6. I really enjoyed reading this, it was a wonderful recap, of an amazing year. Wishing you all a happy new year xx

  7. Anonymous10:36 am

    Great post,i enjoyed reading it. You've had a fab year and i hope it continues for the new year.
    I wish you and your family a Happy New Year!
    Hugs xx

  8. Happy New Year to you all!

    Look forwarding to journeying with you during the forthcoming year, you are always a good reminder to me not to stress about homeschooling and truly ENJOY LIFE!!

    May you continue to be blessed and be a blessing to others.

    Hugs and a prayer
    San and co xxx

  9. That was a beautiful - and great to read - you've achieved so much this year - I feel like I've done little more than breastfeed my baby lol
    Thank you for sharing