Wednesday, 19 September 2012

A very positive castle day

Utterly wonderstruck by the loveliness that is the castle on the fair marsh of the Menai Strait, Beaumaris. Building begun 1295. Not yet finished.

 The little grits agree as to the wonderful castlyness. Here they are, scowling.

Friendly viewer, take these expressions to mean enjoyment. Only understand that the little grits take their pleasures seriously.

Honestly, I am not forcing them into this permanent holiday lifestyle home education malarkey! They are simply scowly-type characters, heading for deep teenage years. Unlike me, smiley-type character, heading for incontinence and dribbling.

They do scowl a great deal though, it is true. People usually greet them with What's the matter? which doesn't embolden me for the explanations I am about to give on our home ed lifestyle being completely tip-top, enviable, great, and generally all-round hilariously fantastic. And there are my scowlers, standing right by me, feet shuffling in the gravel, hands shoved in pockets, shoulders resentfully hunched, and faces looking a picture of abject misery.

Cheer yourself up. Have some more of Beaumaris. I wondered why the locals didn't pull down that stone to build the local pub. Chris said the Welsh wouldn't touch it. It's English. Edward I built it, ran out of money, built a bit more of it, then died, demanding his thigh bones be carried north and used to bash the Scots.

But I like to think Beaumaris is a testament not to the fierce and bony Edward, but to the deft planning and clever thinking of his chief architect, Master James of St George. You only need look at that brilliant defending symmetry and those concentric castle walls. There is a surviving letter, too! Where Master James sounds reet pissed off with the Westminster bean counters after they stopped paying the castle builders. Which means the castle stands only half height.

It was all perfect. I even liked the signs of mayhem and misery. Especially the curiously floating child and the person looking for something while birds fly overhead. Shark suggested the hazard was sneezing, more specifically These birds carry avian flu.

She set me on a lecture about the shared cultural references we need to encode and decode signs. Like, if I send out a sign, how can it be read in the way that I intend? I drew the parallel that she needs to send out signs on her fizzog that say I am happy with my home education, and not I am utterly miserable with my chosen education and forced to do this against my will. She stomps off.

But it's not all fun and semiotic analysis in the fair marshes, you know. We home educators have castles to see. Take Caernarfon.

I buy the services of a Welsh tour guide to tell us stories as we walk the castle. After he greets the children with What's the matter? and I politely explain we are home educated and we enjoy it very much, Squirrel lays into him. He makes the mistake of casually suggesting that children watch too much TV, at which point she gets all huffypuffy and says we don't watch TV actually, then Tiger unhelpfully pips in with a list of all the television she has seen in the last week, including Inspector Morse and the age inappropriate Four Lions. I say that home education is completely tip-top, enviable, great, and generally all-round hilariously fantastic.

I shall conduct more lessons in how to engage the public - particularly the Welsh Government who are gunning for us home education types - so that we all send out very positive messages about ourselves and our home education choices, and yes, probably about everything everywhere too.

Have some more of Caernarfon. Highly recommended for a wonderfully first-class castly experience and a thoroughly tip-top home educating day.

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