My visitors today

Monday 20 April 2015

Stroke group - taking things into their own hands

Painting together

At our last session before Christmas one of my stroke-group clients asked me whether he could bring his birthday present along to the next block in the New Year. The present was a painting class by artist Bob Ross with all the materials. My client asked me whether I could buy some canvases, one for each of the group members.

I readily agreed and had the canvases ready for the next sessions. I also dug out the lovely easels that I had bought with a donation for art materials received a few years ago and I also reached deep into the arty cupboard for the best paint brushes.

This was not the first time that I had helped a group of people paint along to Bob Ross whose painting techniques and art classes on television were very popular in the 1990s. It is over fifteen years ago that my colleagues and I and a few adult clients propped the plinths up on end, tied our canvases to them and spent a wonderful evening painting along to a Bob Ross video. I am sure that I could uncover the very similar but at the same time quite different set of paintings that we produced.

When my stroke group arrived for the first sessions of 2015 there was my client with his case of paints, video, brushes and all the paraphernalia needed for painting and to his and my delight the whole group was raring to go. I was surprised because we had two new clients, but they too were up to the challenge!

This project was a huge step forward from the painting projects that I did with the stroke groups when I was training at the Pető Institute. This was what the clients called ‘real art’.

They were all incredibly proud of the results that turned out much more varied than my previous attempts at Bob Ross classes many years ago. Most of the present stroke group have artistic leanings, sew and paint and create at home, and I think they found it difficult to follow exactly what Bob Ross told us to do, they wanted to put a bit of themselves into the paintings, which they certainly did.

This was everyone's favourite
It is lovely to see that the clients in the stroke group are beginning to bring their own projects into the group, to try out with their fellow group members, in the same way that the school children in the afternoon group do. The children have just organized a Star Wars fan-club visit, they cook together, have make-up sessions together and we are creating a garden. Each project is motivated by a special interest of one or two individuals.

The InBestForm inclusive disabled/non-disabled group for elderly clients was designed so that it could carry on in a similar way to the projects that I have described above: self-motivated and planned projects that the clients themselves can organise. 

As you can probably guess it was not only the adults who wanted to paint along with Bob Ross, once the school children got a hint of what was going on (the canvases where standing on their easels drying when they arrived) they wanted to have a go too.

This was the result of a few hours work by our 9-year-old boy with muscular dystrophy, it is my favourite -


Bob Ross -

Sunday 19 April 2015

A time to sit

I returned from UK at the beginning of this week and went back to work on Tuesday, anticipating a very busy week with not much time to sit!

My time spent amongst nature in my Dad’s garden seems a very long time ago now although only a week has passed by, a very busy week.

Before flying home from England I spent some time with the family of a client with whom I had worked some thirty years ago, who died just before Christmas. I had been invited to read at her Memorial Service which turned out to be something very special and I will write about it here later.

I arrived back in Germany on Monday evening and had to be at work in the Kindergarten group the following morning by eight-thirty, I was needed in the school group in the afternoon and had two adults' sessions after that, closing the day with our second conductive music session.

And so the week carried on in this busy mode until Thursday afternoon.

After working in the city on Thursday at InBestForm, the inclusive, disabled and non-disabled group for elderly clients, I was able to be at home a couple of hours earlier than my norm and decided to take my cup of tea out on my balcony for a sit and a bit of communing with nature, just as I had been doing with my Dad in Norwich.

Spring had sprung this week

I had cycled home on Wednesday in a 25°C heat wave and Thursday was still warm, so there was no need to wrap myself up in a blanket as I had done when last out on the balcony before Easter. I settled down to enjoy my first opportunity to sit amongst my spring flowers and listen to the birds singing.

As I sat back with tea and a pile of out-of-date and unread Guardian Weeklies I started to snooze.  But I was brought back to life when I realized that there seemed to be more collared doves hopping around and cooing than I was used to. Gabor and Giselle had been my customary companions in the early spring, having nested in ‘my tree’ many times since I have lived here. But on Thursday evening there were four doves, two babies had joined in the cooing and were eager to be fed. By Saturday evening, having been huddled together at noon they were nowhere to be seen, perhaps already having flown the nest, or maybe they just made it to a different branch. By Sunday there were certainly gone, Gabor and Giselle too, off on holiday I expect for a rest!

On Thursday I had spotted their delicate platform-like nest only a few feet away from me, just above eye level. I was so sorry to have missed all their comings and goings over the past three weeks, but there was to be a lot more action for me to enjoy. While the doves were busy feeding to one side of me a couple of blackbirds started hopping around in the tree to the front. It seemed that after all I was about to see some nesting action for Mr. and Mrs. Blackbird were very busy collecting nesting materials, their mouths full of moss and muddy, leafy material!

But where was the building site? Some detective work was called for.

It did not take long for my eyes to scan my tiny balcony and discover the blackbird’s nest tucked down low, behind my table, beside the empty flower pots and troughs. 
By Friday morning there was a definite hollow in the earth and a little bit of moss had appeared. I decided to lend them a helping hand in their search for muddy building materials in order to prevent them emptying my flower troughs. I had learnt from my Mum what blackbirds like as she always left out a tray of soil and compost on the patio, that she watered regularly. This stopped the birds pulling up her seedlings.

It worked well for her and it worked for me too. I am surprised how often the tray needed topping up. All my plants are still firmly rooted and my neighbour’s patio below is not covered with mud.

I am really looking forward to the next days, waiting in expectation of the first egg to be laid. After that there will be a patient wait for the chicks to hatch and then a week or two of feeding frenzy before the birds fledge and fly off.

The female blackbird was happily hopping around my feet this lunchtime as I turned my chair and hat another sit in the sun. I will continue to join them on my balcony for ever-lengthening spells so that they get used to me. I am sure that once the eggs are laid and the birds are sitting on them I will be ignored and I can have a bird’s-eye view. I also hope that I can be home early on a few evenings in the following weeks so I can be part of the action.



Thank you for twenty years of Conductive Education in Nürnberg, Germany

"Three Nürnberg conductors on this front row"
(far right, fifth from right and 11th from right)

This year we are celebrating twenty years of conductive services in Boxdorf, Nürnberg.

Conductive Education has been around in Nürnberg for longer than twenty years because I and at least one other conductor arrived in the region in 1993 immediately after graduating, but the Verein für Menschen mit Körperbehinderungen e.V started the centre in Boxdorf two years later, in 1995.

By this time I had already visited one of the Verein’s pre-school groups and had discussed how I could help them with some of the children attending, therefore I was also present in Boxdorf on the day that Őrfalvy Kati and Kalay Judit came to Nürnberg for the very first children’s assessments and meetings with them and their parents.

It seems quite fitting that this timely video has appeared on You Tube featuring Őrvalvy Kati –

Kati has remained on hand to help us, right from the start. She visited us regularly and she was so busy because we saved up all our questions for her. Our children enjoyed her visits too and loved to show off to her everything that they had learnt and to listen to her stories about her early life at the Pető Institute when András Pető was in charge.

Kati has always attended our German conferences and there is always a crowd of conductors waiting to speak to her. Her advice, help and guidance is much appreciated by many people. I for one still write and ask her to share her wise words!

Thank you Kati for all that you do for us!

Örfalvy Kati 4th from right, Mária Hári third from right, 2 Nürnberg conductors on back row, one in the second row and a few more who are in Germany in the middle.

This is a photograph taken at my graduation at the Pető Institute, Budapest in 1993. Kati and I are both visible, and also at least four other conductors who graduated alongside me who have also ended up in Germany. There were more than the four of us on this photograph who came to Germany, but after twenty years I find it hard to recognize myself let alone the others!


Another interesting film to watch later –