Sunday, 30 September 2012


Rob's parents live in a village in Stoke On Trent.  We haven't seen them much over the last few months, so they came down to visit on the train for the day.  The kids (especially Betsy and Meg) loved it.  They played lots of games, chatted and laughed.  A really wonderful day.
I made some brownies, oh my they were delicious.  The recipe is from a little book mum got me for Christmas and every one I've tried has been perfect.
Today more grandparents came, this time my parents.  My step dad brought his fishing gear - well, Freddie's gear.  He's given Freddie a fishing rod, and even a seat!  
They were out for about 2.5 hours and caught 3 fish.  Chris hooked them, Freddie was happy to watch.  He got a good look at the fish before releasing them back into the canal.
He rather liked the maggots!
Meanwhile, Betsy made Tower Bridge from bricks, and played a game with Nanny.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

A London expedition

A replica of an ancient Phoenician ship is in St Katherine's Dock in London at the moment.  I hadn't heard of the Phoenicians before, despite studying ancient history at university.  We took a trip to London to visit it.  It's quite a large undertaking, me with the three kids.  Freddie and Meg especially get restless quite quickly on the train.  I brought a picnic, some colouring, a Skylanders book and our story cubes to help pass the time.  
We got to Tower Hill tube and walked to St Katherine's Dock.  Along the way, we passed an enormous suit of armour.
Amongst the amazing, expensive beautiful boats, we caught our first glimpse of the Phoenicia.
The kids also spotted the royal barge.  Betsy was very impressed that it was covered in gold.
The ship is moored outside Starbucks, so I got myself a hot chocolate and the kids a giant chocolate coin to have while we waited for our friends.  
Aboard, the guide told us about the ship's travels (ably assisted by one of our friends).  It had taken the modern Phoenicia 2 years and 2 months to sail around Africa.
We looked around the ship.  The kids had a go at moving the tiller and adjusting the sail.
This is the loo - a wooden box with a hole at the bottom, attached to the side of the ship.  I love this!
I chatted to Laurence, the captain of the ship.  He's hoping to sail to the Americas in 2014.  He said that he's been trying to get school trips to come and visit the ship, but as the Phoenician civilisation isn't in the National Curriculum only one school has visited in the whole month.  What a wasted opportunity.
We headed off shortly after, I didn't want to travel at rush hour (tired commuters and noisy children are not a good mix!).
On the way back to Tower Hill tube we wandered past big guns, Tower Bridge, and the Tower of London.  We saw some very cool sculptures of lions made from what looked like chicken wire.  As we walked past Traitors Gate I told the kids about Anne Boleyn, and others who entered the tower destined to be beheaded.  Gruesome!  We saw the Shard for the first time, it's beautiful.
I was totally exhausted when we got home, but it was worth it.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Anyone for fishing?

Betsy really wanted to make fishing rods on Monday, but it rained so much we didn't get out.  We managed it yesterday though, in between heavy showers.
The kids hunted for suitable sticks along the tow path, and I brought along a ball of string, a pair of scissors and some paperclips.
They were disappointed not to catch anything.  I'm hoping my step dad can come over one weekend soon with his fishing gear.  With the canal just outside the house the kids could come and go without feeling they have to be there all the time.  And I could take Grandpa a cup of tea!
Later, Betsy and I found ourselves with some unexpected time alone.  Freddie went to see his friend 2 doors down, and Meg fell asleep on the sofa.  We used our time well, and Betsy made some very cool peg dolls.
Aren't they fab?  She did a sand art butterfly picture too, and really enjoyed it.  I'll get some more kits from Crafty Crocodiles, maybe a witch one for Halloween.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Making leaves

Ill health has continued here over the weekend, with a D and V bug.  Oh joy.  Freddie was still under the weather today, so that plus heavy rain kept us in the house.
I've been pinning lots of autumn crafts, so suggested some to Betsy.  We started off by making a leaf window decoration from laminated tissue paper.  There are a few lovely looking stain glass-type decorations on pinterest like this one, but I don't have any crayons in the house (how is that possible?!).  So I asked Betsy to tear up some tissue paper and we arranged it in a laminator pouch.
Betsy drew a leaf shape on an A4 piece of brown card.  I used a craft knife to cut around it and cut the centre out to make a frame.
We put double sided tape on one side of the frame, and stuck it on the laminated tissue paper.
I cut around it, and Betsy stuck it on the window.  It looks gorgeous!
Next, Betsy made a tree with tissue paper leaves, inspired by this blog post.  I drew the tree, we both coloured it in, and she scrunched up the tissue paper and stuck it on.
Freddie roused himself from the sofa and came and joined us.  I cut his out of brown paper (that I hadn't been able to lay my hands on for Betsy's).
Another craft I pinned was leaf pictures using oil pastels.  Freddie liked the look of them, so we found some leaf templates via google. 
Once he'd drawn around them, I rubbed the oil pastels to blur the colour (Freddie didn't want to do it).  Then we peeled the leaves off the paper.  I love how this looks.
Then we got the paints and leaf sponges out.  We have some lovely autumnal paints in copper, orange, gold and brown.

Friday, 21 September 2012

A holiday, sort of.

We really wanted a holiday this month.  I love going away in September, and it's something we've done for the last few years.  I looked into going to the Isle of Wight, but I'd not left enough time to turn our clubcard vouchers into ferry tickets.  Instead we plumped for cheap and cheerful at Clacton-on -Sea in Essex.
It was cheap, but not that cheerful!  The caravan was grubby.  We needed to wash the glasses, cups and plates before using them.  There was rubbish outside the caravan.  The whole site felt neglected.
Added to this, Meg had a cough that I hoped/assumed would just go.  It didn't.  Her body had to work to breathe, her little tummy was going up and down. She kept being sick, because of phlegm I think.  Plus she had diarrhea.  I decided to take her to the walk in clinic in Colchester.  Meg and I waited for more than 2 hours and she was so patient.  I worried that I was wasting everyone's time, that she had a normal cough, but her oxygen levels were a bit low so she was nebulised, and given steroids, antibiotics and an inhaler.  Even then it took another 36 hours for her to perk up.
We left a day early, partly because I wanted Meg home.  But it wasn't all bad....
When we got home, it was cold enough for the first fire of the season.  Lovely!