Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Northern Sinfonia

The tree is logged in the hearth, cards recycled into next years gift tags and the decorations are back in the loft. That's how I like it. I know many people leave their decorations up till the twelve days have passed, but personally I always wake with an urge on Boxing Day to clear everything away. I did well this year and lasted till the 27th.

The visuals may have passed but the memories are still strong. A couple of wonderful memories of this festive season were our trips to The Sage to listen to the Northern Sinfonia play live to accompany silent film screenings.

Miles had his first ever Sinfonia experience last week when I took him to see The Snowman. As usual it was wonderful. Hermione has gone every year for some time now but felt she was too old to go this time round *sigh*. Never mind, I still got to go - this time with Miles.

Thankfully in addition to The Snowman there was also an accompanied screening of The Nutcracker this year - so much more up Hermione's street.

What a jammy mummy I am. I got to enjoy both.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Cowboy notice board

I decided to give the playroom notice board a bit of makeover yesterday. It was a basic cork board but here it is now. Not perfect but a big improvement I think.


I placed a sheet of wading over the board and then the fabric. I stapled it to the back of the board with a staple gun. I then stapled the ribbons to the back and also at the front on each crossing.

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We had a wonderful night last night and the Baileys Bomb caused quite a stir. I'll certainly make it again. What could be simpler than mixing two cartons of whipped cream, half a cup of baileys, four crushed crunchie bars and some crushed meringue? Freeze it and there you have it - a coronary in a bowl *grin*. No, seriously, it was a delicious and very impressive dessert.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Surfing and accomodating

Just as Craig thought he was getting the hang of this snow surfing business, Miles decided to give him a bit of added oooomph. I could have done with a laugh but he managed to stay upright. Better luck next time Miles *grin*.

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Most seasonal additions to the household have discovered their rightful places. I love this really large wooden Montessori style puzzle. I find it challenging. It illustrates perfectly how hopeless my geography is.

Once again my ignorance has been highlighted. This time by the new anatomy torso. I need to practice putting it back together again and identifying the different parts before the children start asking questions *blush*.

Off to check how my Bailey's Bomb is freezing up. I got the recipe from a link on Eleanor's blog. I hope it works out okay as we have wonderful friends coming for dinner tomorrow night. They have cooked scrumptious meals for us on a regular basis for a long time yet the last time they came here and I cooked was a year gone July. I am ashamed. I'm sure the bomb will be fine. Everything I have tried from Eleanor's blog before has worked out wonderfully.

Friday, 25 December 2009

T'was the night before Christmas..

..and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse - that is unless you live close by in which case you might have heard a terrible din till the early hours.

We couldn't possibly imagine what the noise was. Craig was having to work late and in the end we snuggled up listening to Fantastic Mr Fox on cd to drown out the noise and fall asleep.

We had been up going on three hours this morning before Hermione happened to look out of the window and noticed a little wooden house in our back garden. We were all speechless!

It's ever so sweet. It's obviously preloved but that's alright. Santa's a switched on kind of guy. He's into recycling.

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As well as recycling he's also obviously spent lots of time planning the inside to make it as cosy, fun and welcoming as possible. Goodness, he's cool that guy! I like his taste. I can just imagine myself snuggling on the candy striped bench seat come day bed and drawing along the birdy curtain to make a nest in which to escape the hum drum some days.


I might have a drink or snack while admiring the vintage retro style prints.


Or maybe just sit back and do a bit of drawing or play with the bits and bobs around the place.

Merry Christmas one and all!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Seasons greetings

Life is so busy right now. I feel as though my feet are scarcely touching the ground. I may not be around much now till after the festivities, so here's wishing you all a season full of peace, joy, love and laughter xxx

Sunday, 20 December 2009


A sparkling Yule log.

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Bright Yule blessings!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Snow candles and butter update

We will have our family Yule celebration tomorrow. We decided to make candles especially for the occasion - snow candles! We filled bowls with snow, made a small hole, added a piece of wick and gradually filled it up with layers of melted wax and wax chips.


The result is, ermmm, interesting *grin*. Hopefully they will burn well.


We made butter yesterday. I had memories of doing it as a child and it took for ever. It only took us about ten minutes which surprised me. We just placed a carton of room temperature double cream in an empty jar and shook it. We didn't add any salt and it tastes bland - rather like grease. It was still a success though.

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I'm ever so tired right now. It's that frantic, social time of year when it becomes all to tempting to burn the candle at both ends. Busy, busy, busy....

Friday, 18 December 2009

Look what the snow brought!

We have had another rabbit in our garden! It was eating the hen and rabbit's dinner. Our rabbit was quite afraid of it even though he is twice the size.

If you look closely you can see it just by the 'y' of snowy.

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Hermione and I were planning on looking at some information we have about the Vatican State this morning but in the end I gave up amidst all of the excitement!

Off to shake a jar of cream in the hope of making butter. Wish us luck!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Never mind Britain's got Talent..

It was the day of our home ed festive recital today. I had been concerned beforehand for one reason and another but need not have been. All went ever so well. Some children had written their own poetry and we were treated to poetry, music, jokes, singing and dancing - all while sipping a warming tipple of sherry which one parent brought along!

The performances were topped off with great food which everyone contributed to and also games of charades. Everyone helped out and although I was in theory the 'organiser' I ended up having very little to do on the actual day. Everyone rallied round and made it a great team effort.

The hall that we used is used by a Steiner group and there were candles and gnomes to take away for a donation. I brought away some beautiful colour dipped candles. They are so beautiful that they inspired us to set the table and make a formal occasion of dinner this evening. Lovely.

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It's snowing hard outside. I wonder if tomorrow will see the first snowman of this winter?

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Readings for a wet and wintery day

We made a conscious decision this morning to do nothing. It was discussed and agreed by all. Of course we didn't do nothing. We just did what we wanted to do.

I read aloud lots. We read about volcanoes, planets and fire. I read a thought provoking story called Mother Winter from Circle Round. We read quite a few winter poems in an attempt to choose a favourite to take to the poetry recital tomorrow. Talking Turkey by Benjamin Zephaniah came out on top throughout, although I'm not sure either Hermione or I will manage the accent to do it justice.

Be nice to yu turkeys dis Christmas
Cos' turkeys just wanna hav fun
Turkeys are cool, turkeys are wicked
An every turkey has a Mum.
Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas,
Don't eat it, keep it alive,
It could be yu mate, an not on your plate
Say, Yo! Turkey I'm on your side.
I got lots of friends who are turkeys
An all of dem fear christmas time,
Dey wanna enjoy it, dey say humans destroyed it
An humans are out of dere mind,
Yeah, I got lots of friends who are turkeys
Dey all hav a right to a life,
Not to be caged up an genetically made up
By any farmer an his wife.

Turkeys just wanna play reggae
Turkeys just wanna hip-hop
Can yu imagine a nice young turkey saying,
'I cannot wait for de chop',
Turkeys like getting presents, dey wanna watch christmas TV,
Turkeys hav brains an turkeys feel pain
In many ways like yu an me.

I once knew a turkey called...Turkey
He said "Benji explain to me please,
Who put de turkey in christmas
An what happens to christmas trees?",
I said "I am not too sure turkey
But it�s nothing to do wid Christ Mass
Humans get greedy an waste more dan need be
An business men mek loadsa cash'.

Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas
Invite dem indoors fe sum greens
Let dem eat cake an let dem partake
In a plate of organic grown beans,
Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas
An spare dem de cut of de knife,
Join Turkeys United an dey'll be delighted
An yu will mek new friends 'FOR LIFE'.

We carried out another experiment today. I'm feeling quite inspired by a couple of links people here have provided me with. Also, as we approach Christmas things around here are winding down and we want to do relaxed and fun things, simple experiments we can all join in. It's great when Miles and Hermione can join in stuff together. I took some photographs and will record our experimentations soon.

This evening, when the children were both tucked up warm in their beds, I snook out leaving nana and Craig in charge, for dinner and a couple of drinks with a friend. We laughed about days gone by when we were young free and single, the days when we were both in a long term relationship but without children, and here now, both with a couple of children and bags under our eyes. Oh, how we wouldn't change it for the world! We left the restaurant and headed to the car. 'Oh no! What's that on top of my car?' she shrieked. Snow. Winter is well and truly here.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Love is....

Can you remember the 'love is....' comic strips which were around years ago? Craig recalled them and thought of a new one when I asked him to sort out the rucked up sole in my snow boot yesterday. Bless.

Talking of love, I must say I loved watching my big baby in a nativity play at the weekend. A very special little donkey indeed. Sad part was that I found myself thinking that this was another experience I could tell education officers should they come to visit and suspect my children are socially issolated. Sad.

Craig and Hermione went on a visit to the local tv and radio studios today with a bunch of other home educators. I have to say I was a bit disappointed as I had organised the trip but then didn't end up going. Never mind, Miles and I went swimming instead and had the whole of the pool to ourselves! It wasn't supposed to be a family session but as there was only us there a kind life guard got lots of toys out and dumped them in the pool for Miles.

By the end of the day Hermione was glued to the television, watching the local news with great interest having sat in that very studio just hours before, while Miles crashed exceptionally early, exhausted after our fun and laughter in the pool.

Hermione was presented with another award at Badgers (Junior St John's Ambulance) this week. Amongst other things she is now a 'Wild Badger'. Although she is still quite young she may be moved up to cadet status soon as she is making good progress with her awards.

Something else I've been celebrating is the publication of this wonderful article featuring some of our good friends.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Festive home and Animal School

Fabric fir trees, gingerbread and the Lady of the Light.


I rarely indulge in shop bought decorations these days but couldn't resist these wooden hobby horses.


We had to move this chair into the kitchen as it was in the regular tree spot. It's much more appreciated here and nana has virtually taken up residence in it. She can now sit in the hub of our home in comfort.


Satsumas, fir cones and candy canes.

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The other day I was looking for something to share with a very good friend who has recently had her confidence knocked by her child's school teacher. I remembered this clip of film and have felt the need to tell not just the friend in question about it but lots of other folks it too. I know I have blogged about it before but think it is good enough to warrant a further mention. Enjoy!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Dressing the tree and games in the parlour!

I relented and we now have a tree in the hall. We always have a spruce but this year we have pine. I favoured it's compact shape but fear the needles will drop much quicker than in the case of spruce.

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Miles wasn't that excited about decorating it but has beeen quite keen to create dens under it and behind it. I forsee a toppling tree ahead...


Last night Hermione, nana and I braved the fog to visit Enchanted Parks. We enjoyed it, but not as much as I had anticipated. That may have had something to do with worrying about the drive back in thick fog.

One of the highlights was games in a mock victorian parlour. What a laugh! The people in period costume were fabulous and took it all very seriously. It was great. We blew a feather around the room to get warmed up - I suspect that was one of those moments where you just needed to be there to appreciate it. We then played musical statues to strange tunes played on the piano. On the way out we were given a sheet of victorian parlour games. I've not looked at them yet but will do.


Fabulous singers brought a cheer to an otherwise damp and chilly night. Can you see them through the fog?


Thursday, 10 December 2009

Wednesday, 9 December 2009


I'm not sure if I'm disappointed today or just deliriously tired - probably the later I suspect.

A friend called last night to let me know that the petitions were being handed in and I could see it live on television. Good job she had tipped me off as I had just staggered back from Ikea with a mashed brain.

I'm not sure how I expected to feel today. Pleased? Elated? Optimistic? I don't really know. I've just felt flat really. It feels like an anticlimax. After a flurry of activity sorting out our petition, chasing our MP, deciding she could not be trusted to present it and forwarding it on to where it needed to go, suddenly I had a bit more head space. Of course there was no fanfare, the problem remains and I guess it's just a case of what to do next...hmmm...

So, what did I do with the spare head space? I got off my butt, checked the pool timetable and took the children swimming. It was good. We enjoyed it. I've also made some new cushion covers with fabric I bought at Ikea last night. They have quite a reasonable range of prints at £1.99 and that is enough to pay for making cushion covers in this house.

While messing in the garden I noticed that the tops of my new potatoes were wilted and frosted. I hurriedly grabbed the spade in the hope of finding hidden treasures beneath, but alas, no. The potatoes were the size of marbles. On reflection I think perhaps I should have planted them in the greenhouse. I live and learn.

I am buckling under the pressure to buy a Christmas tree early this year. I quite like to dress the tree the Sunday before Christmas. It's always a full day affair involving carols, ginger wine and many mince pies. However, since I always insist on taking it down before new year (often on the 26th) I am finding myself under pressure to put it up earlier. Even nana is dropping not so subtle hints. Maybe, just maybe, later this week.

Hermione is reading a book about the Workhouse by Pamela Oldfield. I'm so pleased a friend introduced us to the My Story series. I know I rave about them but they really do bring history to life.

I'm off to bed, trying hard not to think about an extra week of vacuuming pine needles, Kirsty Alsop and her homemade chutneys or any beastly politicians.

Also, if A is reading this, please drop me a line. I've tried to email you twice but it keeps bouncing back to me. I'm using the addy you suggested. x

Melting ice

Miles is very keen to do experiments these days. Here he is covering one ice cube in salt crystals while leaving the other as it is. Of course the one with salt on melted first.

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I would like to do more simple science with him. We have done the usual sink and float stuff, changing states from solids to liquids, growing peas in glass jars and a couple of other bits and bobs. Can anyone suggest more simple science for a just gone four year old?

Monday, 7 December 2009

Victoria Tunnel trip

We visited Victoria Tunnel today. It was fascinating, particularly as it highlights two key periods in history as opposed to just one.


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A very kind lady and gentleman who had memories of going into the tunnel when it was used as a WW2 shelter came in to share their memories with the children. That was special.

Hermione and Nana plan to do more research around the Victorian period and then go along on another tour.

The visit was arranged by a fellow home educator. While we were on the visit another home educator gave me a book about Roman women which she had picked up especially for Hermione. Back at home a friend called by to collect Hermione and take her to Badgers because I was home with Miles and Craig was working late. Life may not be a bowl of cherries but I do loose count of my blessings sometimes!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Medieval Yule Celebration

Hermione and I trundled off to Brancepeth Castle for a Medieval Yule Celebration last night. Well, it was most certainly a night with a difference!

The Castle itself is very rustic. It was decidedly chilly despite huge open log fires. A slight musty smell, magnificent stone work and predominantly candle light. Delightful!

We listened to lots of medieval music and singing. I don't know what most of the instruments were called. There were many that I had never seen before. I took pictures of some of the musicians but not all, there were a whole array of different instruments.

Some folks danced in medieval style. I don't know if they were overcome by the music or just trying to keep warm!




There was also fabulous story tellings with interesting props. Tales of wizards, eye pecking crows, mystery and intrigue.

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All in all a fabulous night. Hermione thoroughly enjoyed it. She loves learning about the medieval period and we both agreed that the evening was about as authentic as it could be in this day and age - all that was missing was the blackbird pie!