A marmalade hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus feasts on the pollen of a sun-rose in a welcome spell of sunshine. Although we've had a succession of heavy rain showers, the last few days have finally felt a bit more more summery and there are now plenty of hoverflies on the flowers.

I spent much of the day with one of my closest friends. We reminisced about the long summer days when our home-educated children would spend hours playing in the mud of the Wash, near where she lives. Mud fights were the most popular pastime and they would return coated from head to foot in sticky black goo,needing to be hosed down in the garden before being allowed back into the house!

We both had a fairly relaxed approach to education, with remarkably little school-type work, but plenty of arts, crafts, experiments, reading, chatting and visits to interesting places. This alternative approach doesn't seem to have held them back. When the time has been right all have positively thrived in the more traditional academic settings of college and university, obtaining higher marks than many of their more traditionally educated peers. I suspect parental nurturing has a much greater effect on success than the actual details of the education provided.

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