Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Energy, Photos and Home Education

In the UK, Spring is my favourite season. I love the bulbs, the blossom, the new growth on trees, the warmer weather with gentle wind and (sometimes) sunny skies.

Here in Cyprus, however, I think I prefer Autumn. Despite the chilliness of the house at night, as mentioned previously, the weather is mostly very pleasant. Today, for instance, it was sunny with a deep blue sky, and a light breeze. Warm enough that I opened most of the windows at about 9am to let in some fresh air, and then left them open until it began getting cooler and dark, shortly after 4.30pm. I did three loads of laundry today, and the first one was dry by the time I hung out the third. I baked some bread this morning, and was able to leave it to rise on the kitchen window-sill, rather than having to put it over a pan of hot water.

I've realised that the only way to get much done, and keep on top of the household chores, is to leave the computer switched off until after lunch. Somehow if I turn it on 'just to check email' in the morning, I find other things to do online (broadband is a blessing, but also something of a curse as it means the Internet is constantly available) and time whizzes by. Then I rush to do what has to be done - cooking, cleaning the kitchen, laundry - and become stressed. By contrast now, I'm more relaxed and getting more done.

Of course I've tried this before: it's that extra energy that comes with cooler weather, motivating me. I'm back to cooking all our evening meals from ingredients rather than using jars and ready-made food. Baking bread and cakes has become enjoyable again. It will probably last until about Christmas, at which point I'll take a break, and relapse into bad habits again. But it's nice while it lasts.

While online the last couple of afternoons, I've been uploading photos to the DirectFoto site. We've used the DirectFoto ordinary envelope service for years, when we used 35mm film cameras. They would post processed photos to Cyprus with no extra postal service, and would include a free film as well as an index-print, and prices about half those we could get locally. Moreover the quality was always excellent, whereas in Cyprus some of the processors seem to change their chemicals only rarely (if ever!) and produce very washed-out prints.

Before we went to the UK I put several digital prints on a CD and sent them to DirectFoto for printing; as with prints from film, the quality was superb and the prices good. We even got a free CD returned with the pictures. I was going to do the same with the digital photos taken while in the UK, but discovered that DirectFoto now have an online service where prints can be stored, and then ordered as wanted. That seems like a much better idea - so much easier to get reprints, for instance. Moreover they have a special offer at present: 15 free prints with any order of £2 or more. Since each regular-sized print is 10p, and postage £1, that means I can get 35 prints for £3.

As with any of these sites, it takes a LONG time to upload high-quality pictures, even with broadband. I'm doing five at a time, and each batch takes about 20 minutes. But - so far - they've all uploaded successfully. Previously I tried using another similar service, but about half the time the uploads failed and I had to try again. So that's another point in favour of DirectFoto!

In case anyone reading this is interested in our home education - it's still continuing, in a low-key way. Dan has about eight workbooks to complete; he thought he'd lost his current science one, but found it again today. He only has two subjects to finish, then he'll have his level two certificate and can stop doing any coursework. Having got this far, we thought he might as well finish this level, even though he'll probably never need the qualifications. He's still hoping to return to the Doulos next year - if possible in January - but hasn't heard from them yet despite going for an interview in Shropshire three weeks ago.

Dan is also busy with his new clarinet - and hoping to find a more advanced teacher, but with no success as yet. He's continuing with drum lessons, teaching himself piano, taking aural music lessons, doing drama with the English-speaking teenagers at Antidote, helping out occasionally with Antidote's other productions (keeping the website up-to-date, designing posters etc), taking stage combat and karate, learning Greek, and playing in the church band. In addition he's starting to make short video productions, and hopes to be repairing/servicing more clarinets and other woodwind instruments in future.

Tim has rather more to complete for his level 2 qualifications, but is working steadily through. At last he's making sense of the maths (American-style geometry with rather convoluted proofs required - however he's grasped the techniques) and actually quite enjoys the history. Tim is busy with his other interests too: he takes piano lessons, plays keyboard in a youth band, and sometimes plays the organ at the church he attends. He also takes singing lessons and aural music lessons, plays guitar at a group for international students run by the church the rest of us attend, is on the committee for the inter-church youth group, and administers some online forums. For the future he wants to take some technical computer qualifications, and study theology.

So I certainly say that home education has not damaged their prospects in any way; on the contrary, it's given them widespread interests, social contact with people of all ages and backgrounds, and the ability to teach themselves whatever they want to learn.


Lynda James said...

It's good to your recent news, especially the accounts of your time in UK. I particularly liked the photo of autumn trees on the Bristol Road, as here in Rio we don't really get autumn, and certainly not with the wonderful changes of leaf colour.

Henry Cate said...

Homeschooling in Cyprus sounds like a blast. One of our dreams is to homeschool in London some day. (We're in the States.)

Lora said...

I had a similar shift in my feelings about the seasons when I moved south. I think that up north you indure such dreariness all winter that the warmth and colrs are so welcome, but further south the summer is the season to indure and winters are actually pleasant. I won't use my oven at all over the summer so baking in the fall is made especially nice.

Jax said...

Do like to come by here and catch up every once in a while. Wish that I felt rejuvenated by the cold - winter makes me want to hibernate instead ;)