Saturday, 28 February 2009

barbie cakes

Tess made some Barbie cakes yesterday. Strangely, Rob and I weren't tempted to finish them off after Tess & Brodie were in bed.

The cook in action .....

and presenting the finished product ......

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

moors valley

At the weekend, we had a family trip to Moors Valley Country Park, a favourite place for us to visit. Tess & Brodie took the new scooters we had bought (at a great special offer price in Halfords, I should add!) for them to use in London - they had practically slept with the scooters since we got them on Wednesday, so it was no big surprise that they wanted to take them to Moors Valley. It was a beautiful day, so the place was busy, and we parked right at the far end of the car park. This was a big bonus for Tess & Brodie as they found a 'secret path' through to the visitor centre.

We then experienced a first, as Brodie seemed to think it was more fun to scoot along chasing the train than actually riding on it. We have never before been able to do anything at Moors Valley until we have had a train ride! 

We rounded the day off with a play in the 2 playgrounds there. There is a great play trail through the woods, but we didn't have time to go round that this time, as we arrived in the afternoon and it takes quite a while to get round.

butser ancient farm

Last week, we went to Butser Ancient Farm (website) with our friends Susie & Hannah. The site describes itself as 'the open air laboratory for research into Prehistoric and Roman agriculture and building techniques' and comprises a working 'ancient farm'. There are a range of buildings there, including a roman villa and iron age round houses, all built in the authentic style and using traditional methods. 

The Farm had put on some activities for half term - some traditional, some perhaps a little less so (circus skills!), and had story telling in the Great Roundhouse. Brodie was a bit too nervous to go into the Roundhouse, as it was very dark inside and there was an open fire in the middle. Tess went in with Susie for the 2nd half of the stories. 

Both Tess & Brodie thoroughly enjoyed the traditional art of crushing chalk, which was to be used to fill cracks in the floor of the Great Roundhouse. Brodie in particular felt that this was a task he was born to do - they even called the mallets 'bashers'!. Both also had a go at arranging tiles for mosaics and rubbing roman coins in the Roman Villa. 

It is a lovely peaceful venue, and I am sure we will go there again as it is fairly local. Susie & Hannah are regular visitors. I know SEEDS (the Southampton based home ed group we belong to) had an educational trip there when we had just joined (but we were too young to go at the time), so we may well do something like that as well. 

PS in the pic of Tess with the 'basher' over her shoulder, she is doing an impression of an elf! Or possibly one of the 7 dwarfs. Just in case it wasn't obvious. 

staying within the lines

While we were in London, Brodie did the colouring shown below. This is the best colouring I have seen him do - the first time I've seen him follow the shapes of the drawing and to try to stay within the lines. Good colour choices too.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

the pilgrimage to peter pan

Peter Pan is one of Tess & Brodie's favourite stories, and we have been promising them for ages that we will go and visit the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens when we're up in London. We decided to go when we were up there last week, and were delighted to find out before we went that there was also a Princess Diana Memorial Playground in the park, which was designed on the Peter Pan theme. 

It was quite a trek getting across from Greenwich to Kensington Park - we got to Embankment on the river boat, which is a really easy and pleasant way to get around. However, I had taken the big buggy, so couldn't go on the tube, and was a bit uncertain about where to get buses, so decided to walk the rest of the way.

Apart from the fact that I could barely walk by the time we got to Kensington (or for the rest of the week!), it was a great way to take in a few more sites on the way. We went past the Houses of Parliament & Big Ben (another favourite, so long as it isn't bonging as we go past). Then we went past Buckingham Palace, and looked at the flags - a couple of days earlier, Granny had given Tess & Brodie Union Jack flags from her cruise, and Brodie was particularly obsessed with flags at that point. The Royal Standard was flying, showing that the Queen was in residence. We also looked at the coats of arms on the gates, as we had just watched a film about a unicorn, so Tess & Brodie both spotted that the coat of arms contained unicorns. We also saw different ways of presenting the coat of arms on the gates at Buckingham Palace, where they were in metal & gilt and on the entrance to the Hyde Park, where they were painted.

From there, we went through Hyde Park to Kensington Park and finally reached the Peter Pan statue. We then had to keep going to the far side of the park to get to the playground, and it was getting quite late in the day. I thought we'd have an hour there before it closed, but unfortunately we arrived to find that it closed in 15 minutes!!!! So we had a very rushed play there, and were sad that we were thrown out so quickly, as it was really great. There was a huge pirate ship, a mermaid area, Indian teepees and some little boats to play in. We will definitely go back there for a proper play, but will have to wait a month, as it is about to close for a refurbishment and a fort and some other new bits added. 

pink mice

Another creation with no input from me. Tess picked up her christmas cookery book and decided she and Brodie would make the pink sugary mice that were in there. All she needed was a tin of condensed milk, dessicated coconut, icing sugar and food colouring. We didn't have the first 2 and I refused to hand over the icing sugar, as I didn't have the time to clear up a kitchen filled with white powder. So the two of them gathered such ingredients as they could - sprinkles, food colouring and cake cases, and proceeded to improvise and make their mice regardless! I took pity on them at this stage and allowed them to make a little bit of icing, and they finished the mice off with some japanese rice cracker ears!! 


I was making dinner, Brodie had fallen asleep, and Tess occupied herself in the kitchen with me by rummaging through a box of remnants, off-cuts and recycled bits and pieces. While I chopped the veg, she created a pirate 'as a special present for Brodie', using just the contents of the box and a bit of sticky tape. She did this with no input from me at all......... 

january art group

At this month's art group, we looked at still life in pastels, inspired by Van Gogh's sunflowers and Cezanne's Still Life with Apples and Oranges. A vase of flowers and a bowl of fruit were set up and the children could choose which they wanted to draw, using pastels. Tess chose the flowers, and produced a drawing which was very true to the colours in the flowers used. Brodie maybe slightly missed the point of the exercise and drew a train entering a tunnel, but there's nothing like knowing your strong points!!! Tess wrote her name and Brodie's name and their ages on the artwork. Tess's drawing was taken off to be part of a display that FareGos (the home ed group) was setting up in a local library.


Well, we don't get much snow down here, so the light sprinkling we got in January caused great excitement! Unfortunately, the snow lasted minutes and even though it snowed quite heavily at times over the following days, it never settled again.

bread rolls

We decided to have a go at making some bread rolls, with flour that we had bought when visiting Weald & Downland Open Air Museum (website) last year (they have a mill there that produces flour to sell). Tess made a bread princess, with a crown and a princess dress (with some help from me) - see the 2nd picture - and Brodie arranged his into a train and carriages.

We've seen an awful lot of these........

and have ridden on most (some were too small!) .....