My life in Ipswich - incorporating One Step at a Time, my account of how I am slowly changing my life

Thursday, 11 March 2010


About me?? What do you all want to know?? This is a difficult one but here goes……

My name’s Viv and I live in Ipswich, Suffolk after having been born in London, grew up in Essex and brought up my children in Norwich in Norfolk.
I was 53 last July and can’t understand how I came to be this old…surely I’m still 41!!
I have three children. Joe will be 29 this July and lives in Sheffield. Sian is 26 and my youngest Sam was 24 last Sept. Sam has severe learning difficulties and lives at Barrington farm in Norfolk . The following is a little about the place:

Barrington Farm in North Norfolk is a unique day and residential services centre for adults with learning difficulties. The facilities include a working farm with rare breeds, a gym, café, holiday cottages, however, for many people however the main interest is the arts centre known as The Art Barn. Formerly an Elizabethan potato store, the barn was converted in the 1980s into a basic space for making art when one of the clients started painting a cow on the side of an old piece of board. Over the years it has grown and developed into a fully equipped art studio that caters for most activities associated with the visual arts such as painting, drawing, printmaking, woodwork, and ceramics. There is also a separate textiles room where artists can turn fleeces from the sheep on the farm into woven wool or felt.
Creativity is very much seen as part of daily life and the art centre is exploited to maximum effect. It is staffed and managed by practising artists who assist and nurture each individual’s specific talents. It is not a place where art is taught in the academic sense. Guidance with materials and technique is offered but the creative decisions are left to the artist. It is hoped that whatever is made is the result of a direct response to the subject matter or material.


Sam has obviously taken up a lot of my time over the years and I am so happy that eventually I was able to get him placed in such a wonderful environment. The art barn is amazing and has an incredible atmosphere. Sam really enjoys the farm and seems very happy there.

Sorry to go on so much about Sam but as a mother I feel guilty but can not explain why. As the children were growing up I tried desperately not to give him more attention than Joe and Sian but obviously his needs were great.

Now more about me and less about my role as a mother. I work full time as Head of English in a large High school in Ipswich. This is a very demanding job that takes up much of my time.

As well as teaching I try to leave time for my other interests ie family history, crafts, writing and folk music/festivals. In fact Harry and I got married from the Cambridge Folk festival nearly eight years ago. We camped on the festival site and got a taxi to the register office where we met friends and family. After the ceremony we all had a punt down the river cam to Granchester where we had a meal laid on in a thatched roof pub. After that Harry and I went back to the festival and our wedding night was spent in a tent in grounds of Cherry Hinton Park at the festival. On of our favourite bands – Oysterband – played a track ‘Blood Wedding’ for us on the Sunday night of the festival. Since then we have bought a camper van and now a caravan, and now go to festivals in that rather than use a tent.
We have also began to ‘morris’ dance and go to many festivals and events during the mainly summer months. Harry is squire for Green Dragon morris who are based in Bury St Edmunds.

Crafting is an interest I have had since a child when my mother used to make glue by mixing flour and water to make a paste with which to stick paper. At the age of 10 I made my first dress. In my teens I worked at a playcentre for 5 – 14 yr olds and the crafts were always my main interest. From then onwards [right through uni and teacher training in Norwich] I worked all holidays with kids running playschemes and being involved in various craft projects. I also got involved in street theatre and made a lot of the costumes. In the late 1970s I moved to London and worked on an adventure playground [ where I met Kevin, the kid's father]. Here I got involved in all sorts of crafts including batik, screen printing, photography as well as papercrafts

Once Joe was born we moved to Norwich where I worked as a youth and community officer running community centres.After Sam was born I gave up full time work for a few years but used to run after school sessions both in a local church community centre and in my own home. The house was always full of craft materials, both paper and fabric based. I got really into patchwork and quilting [ Sian’s dolls had some lovely bedding!].

When Sam was four I returned to work but this time as a teacher and later I got very involved in the school productions and the costume making. Sian used to love coming back stage to the dressing rooms during performances. She used to ‘fall’ for some of the young boy ‘actors’
In the mid 90’s I had my gall bladder removed and spent a lot of the time when recuperating doing cross stitch, a craft I hope to have a go at again soon. I prefer samplers to pictures.

Card making didn’t really attract me until just over five years ago I was in Hobbycrafts [ Harry is also keen on crafts, esp painting and model making] when the card making materials caught my eye. My first attempt at a card was awful but with the help of a few magazines and later books my skills grew as did my collection of materials. Sian then came to stay and she got hooked. It has been great for me in many ways. It provides a brilliant way of relaxing after a very stressful day at work and has given Sian and I, a common interest which has bought us a lot closer.

I also love to sew and have made several bags in the last year. Next I want to start making some of my own clothes again. I also want to become more confident with knitting and crochet.

Recently I began a new stage of my life and that is as a grandmother as Harry’s daughter has two boys and his son , one boy.


  1. Hello, thanks for following my blog. Always nice to meet a local blogger.
    (I struggled to find your blog from my followers list, btw, so you may have some tinkering to do on your settings)

  2. Hi - thanks for leaving a comment.
    Not sure why you had that difficulty but I'll look and see what I need to do.

  3. Hi Viv....thanks for your lovely comment on Tilly Rose. We have such a lot in common! I'm glad you have found a lovely place for your sounds fab!
    Looking forward to seeing your blog grow!
    Karen x x x