Thursday, 31 October 2013


Too tired to write much!  Pumpkins carved, spooky food prepared, decorations up, 8 kids here, party games played, trick or treating done.  Glass of wine now!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

We're going on a fungi hunt....

I got a phone call yesterday, from one of organisers of the Autumnwatch event.  As I'd filled in a feedback form I'd been entered into a raffle, and I won!  And what a fantastic prize.  A big box filled with nature goodies.

Lots of really good spotter books, lifecycle books, a solitary bee house, kids gardening books, magnifying glasses, a magnifying bug jar, kids gardening gloves.  Amazing, such a lot of wonderful stuff!

Today was a gorgeous autumn day, so we took the magnifying glasses, bug jar and fungi spotting guide to the woods.

It wasn't as busy as I expected, with it being half term.  We had Jarvis with us.  His mum works in the cafe in the woods, and we went in for lunch and to say hello.  Then we went fungi hunting.  Outside the cafe is a tree stump covered in it.

Our book helped us identify this as turkeytail.

I couldn't work out the other one on the stump, I'll need to do some googling I think. I couldn't identify this one either:

Betsy found some I've never seen before, little purple ones.  My photos didn't come out very well, the colour was more vibrant in real life.  Once she pointed these ones out, we suddenly noticed they were everywhere!  They are amethyst deceivers, and are edible toadstools.

We saw several other species, more than we have ever spotted before.  it was a very successful fungi hunt.  Bug hunting was less successful.  We moved some logs, but didn't find any woodlice or beetles.  We did find some worms, slugs and spiders.

The kids also found time for playing!  Splashing in puddles, it, being dinosaurs, the playground.  We stopped at the cafe again, this time for chocolate and to warm up a little.

I loved looking at the autumn colours, and the sun shining through the trees.  I really do love this place.

Sunday, 27 October 2013


Our local council put on an amazing Autumnwatch event.  It really is quite wonderful.  They have stalls and displays across two community centres, and there is so much to see and do.

The first thing we found was a man from an apple society, with an apple press and other equipment to prepare the apple.  Freddie had a go with the scratter, which pulps the apples before they are pressed.

Rob held a big stick insect, and Betsy held a huge snail.  They were from Butterfly World, where we had visited earlier in the year.

All three kids made balloon creatures.  The balloons have some rice inside to give them a bit of weight.

Betsy and Meg made beeswax candles.  The bee lady started them off, and they finished them by themselves.  Meg especially was really pleased with her candle.

Outside there was a birds of prey display.  We saw a kestral, a Harris hawk and a fish eagle.

We petted the farm animals, wanged some wellies, and were offered some crunchy bug snacks.  For some reason, we all refused!

Back inside, there were loads of crafts to do.  Betsy made a pig and a sheep, Meg made a frog and enjoyed the playdough.  Freddie and Betsy did some loom weaving.  I loved watching them do this, it took lots of concentration and they really seemed to enjoy the process.

We were there for 3 hours, and were busy the whole time.  It was a lovely lovely family outing.  Afterwards we had 10 minutes at the playground before going home for a late lunch.

Today I took down Betsy's birthday cards and the bunting, and started out put up the Halloween decorations.  We bought pumpkins earlier in the week, I expect we'll carve them in the next day or so.

I did some Halloween crafts at Camp Mohawk on Friday - paper plate pumpkins and egg box spiders.  They're great!  Photos to come.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Birthday fun, and a bad back

I was preparing for Betsy's 6th birthday for what felt like forever.  She asked for a surprise party, so naturally I said no and went ahead and organised one.  It was stressful.  I worried about the weather, as the party was to be held in the woods.

I was right to worry.  It poured down!  It was freezing.  But her amazing friends came anyway, and I'm so grateful that they did as they really helped to make her birthday wonderful.

She was already on a high as she got a walking talking pinkie pie (My Little Pony) and a furby (goodness they do talk).  Then she was showered with cards and presents and balloons at the party.

I took baked potatoes in a cool box, ready-grated cheese and my friend brought baked beans in a flask.  There were crisps, and Moshi Monsters cupcakes, and chocolate brownies.  There was bunting, a (wet) scavenger hunt, and treasure (chocolate coins).  When it got too cold and wet we retreated to the cafe.

I didn't take my photos as I was trying to hold it all together in the weather, but here's one of the birthday girl

The next day we took the kids to Drayton Manor theme park.  It was *lots* of fun.  Rollercoasters, rocking pirate ship, spooky boat ride, big wheel, cable car, rapids, bumper cars, carousel.  We were there all day, and were kicked out when they closed.

Freddie and I went on a proper grown ups rollercoaster.  He didn't like it at all.  It held you upsidedown, and the seat restraint really hurt him.

In the run up to Betsy's birthday, I noticed that my coccyx was hurting.  The discomfort gradually became pain over a few days, and paracetamol wasn't effective.  I'm now taking prescribed co codamol, and am sitting on a coccyx wedge cushion.  I really hope it gets better soon, as I'm grumpy from disturbed sleep, a bit out of it on the painkillers, and irritated by my inability to pick things up from the floor!  Driving has been difficult, so we've been at home more than usual.

Freddie's been doing this:

Betsy, who wants to do school work, has been doing this:

We did get out today to buy the wedge cushion, and got a spider habitat from Hobbycraft.  Freddie and I saw it last week, and Betsy found a spider yesterday that she wanted to look after.

We're meant to catch flies for it to eat, I can't imagine that will be very easy.  If we can't, we'll let it go in a couple of days.

Yesterday Freddie and I went to the free film showing from the National Youth Film Festival, while mum stayed with Betsy and Meg.  We say Despicable Me 2, which we both enjoyed.  I think sitting in the cinema contributed to my painful afternoon though!