Thursday, 29 July 2010

Free fun at Sheerness.

I've been having internet problems this week so not been able to blog for a few days, but we are enjoying the summer holidays so far.

I'm always on the look out for cheap, if not free, fun for the kids (and me!)

A few days ago, I took the children to the Isle of Sheppey, Sheerness to be precise, where there are some good, free, facilities for families. On the seafront, apart from the obvious seaside, there is a very nice sandy play area and paddling pool. There is also good facilities for older children, for their bikes and skateboards.

We had a good couple of hours fun here and will definitely go back again.
Today we visited Shorne Woods Country park. I forgot my camera but, again, all we had to pay was £2 for the car park. The kids loved the adventure play area there and Honor did very well using a map to follow one of the easier set trails there. They also do activities like pond dipping which cost a few extra quid. We might do some of that next time and I'll have to remember the camera.

This is just a picture of little Hope in a really cool outfit from Auntie Janice!

Friday, 23 July 2010

The Wildwood Maths Trail.

As today was an INSET day (teacher training day), the school summer holidays start here!
Honor has declared that she wants to improve her maths and is committed to practising over the break, so....

We are members of a local wildlife park called Wildwood at Herne. It is a fabulous place, dedicated to the conservation of British wildlife. I prepared 'maths trails' for the children to practise the skills they have covered over the past year at school. Honor has just finished year 4 so her questions involved calculating entrance fees using addition and multiplication, decimals and subtraction (working out the change for a family of 5 from £40). "Gosh, that's a lot of money!" she exclaimed. "Yes", I replied. "Good job we have membership!".
Then she went to the toilets and did some percentage calculations in there! (And spent a penny - hee, hee!)

She also collected statistics on some of the animals to practise converting measurements in cm and grammes into decimals and to compare later using different sorting strategies ie carroll and venn diagrams and also made a tally of the three different types of deer that she saw to later record on a bar chart. She is really into bar graphs at the moment!

She has also been learning about postion and direction and finds it hard to remember angle turns and clockwise/anti-clockwise, so we did a bit of this too. Facing these deer faces she had to make a 180 degree turn clockwise and record the name she could see in front of her. (It was Jeremy, a plaque on a tree marked the place where I think a beloved animal may be buried.)

Henry has just finished Reception year and his questions were brief and simple counting, addition and subtraction. I got him practising reading as much of the stuff we passed as possible, too.

They enjoyed doing their 'work'. But the park was probably the best bit. Especially as we bumped into some other of their friends on a day out .
I love this wooden dragonfly that Hope is sitting on.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Job done.

Well, I like it. Can't say that it appears to be any better than the 'Crown, Period' paint that I used in the hall, though.
I painted it yesterday, which turned out to be a very busy day and not altogether a very pleasant one either. Very sadly, my neighbour died. The children were upset by this news as they often chatted to her over her garden wall and she used to get her dog to bring them out packets of crisps in its' mouth!
And Hope stood on a rusty nail. I had to move a bucket of rubbish that was due to go in the log burner and a piece of wood fell out that had a rusty nail poking out of it. I forgot to pick it up straight away and poor Hope stood on it with her bare feet. The other 2 kids were brilliant at assisting me with the first aid but then I wasn't sure if I should get it looked at professionally. I couldn't bear the thought of going through the 'hospital' palava, but couldn't bear the thought of something worse developing even more. So I took the baby to the local hospital, to their minor injuries clinic (which is under threat of closure). I thought babies got priority in the triage system, but no. We had to wait over an hour, baby crying and getting hotter, and more tired. Eventually we were seen by a foreign nurse who did nothing except get surprised that she could walk:
Nurse: She's not walking yet though.
Me: Yes, she does walk.
Nurse: What? Already? How old is she?
Me:15 months
Nurse: And she can walk already? That's unusual.
Well. I just wanted to get out of there fast after that. I looked at her badge and it said 'advanced nurse'.
So poor Hope went through all that for nothing. Hopefully her foot will be ok. I'll keep an eye on it.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Posh paint.

One of my guilty pleasures is flicking through the pages of Country Living magazine. Nice pictures. Very nice houses, though I think a lot of the owners spend silly money on their things. In one picture I was admiring somebody's tablecloth... until I saw that the fabric was listed as being £156 per metre!!! Perhaps it was a misprint. Surely no-one would spend that amount just to have gravy and ketchup slopped all over it? The other thing about these houses is nobody ever paints with anything other than Farrow and Ball, do they? I roll my eyes every time I see 'walls painted in Farrow and Ball something or other'. Surely B&Q one coat would do the job just as well?
Last week I decided that enough was enough. The wardrobe in the hall was too dark looking and the front door - just too dirty looking and perhaps a coat of light, cream paint would sort it out. Browsing in Homebase, I decided to skip past the value brands and give 'Crown's Period Colour - Parsonage Cream' a try. I have to say I'm quite pleased with the result. It does seem to have a nicer finish than the usual paint I buy and people have commented on how much nicer the hallway looks.

So I have decided that as I don't really like this fire surround, it is too dark for the room, I'm going to paint it. I was going to get another colour from the 'Crown' range but was drawn towards the Farrow and Ball range on the shelf next to them. Is it really worth the extra few quid? I wondered. Well, I'm about to find out!

Monday, 12 July 2010

The Owl and the Pussycat.

I have just returned from our monthly Women's Institute meeting full of Pimms, Kentish apple juice, and fine italian meats and cheeses. Oh, and I got to take home my Owl and the Pussycat clay tile that I made last month. (See pics - my mother's tile is the one on the left).

Tonight the guest speaker came from a local farm shop, 'Macknade Fine Foods' and we got to sample just some of the fabulous food and drink they sell there. I visit there quite often as it is one of the few places, it seems, that you can get decent taramasalata.
I'm really enjoying this Women's Institute thing. I reckon it could really catch on!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

'Beach' project.

Recently the kids and I visited Westgate Beach and collected loads of large razor clam shells for the purpose of making the candle holders featured in the book 'Homemade' by Ros Badger and Elspeth Thompson. The shells had been sitting in a bag on the hall windowsill for a few weeks so when I saw 'Mom Unplugged' (see sidebar for link) has a beach project challenge, I thought it was time we got on with making them.
I washed the shells thoroughly and divided them up into piles for Honor and Henry. They had to arrange the shells around a candle in layers, which was quite fiddly to start with.

We tied the string around them and continued squeezing in as many more as we could until....

...they looked like this. Very nice, I think and the children enjoyed making them.
I can think of two special ladies who have birthdays in August. Perhaps the children could make some more during the school holidays as gifts for them.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

The knitted animals.

I love these. They deserve a post all to themselves.

Hope loves them too. We are going to have so much fun playing with them and possibly learning the signs for them too. I got them at the fete this afternoon, prices ranged from 50p for the little ones and £1.50 for the frog.

Just look at this mallard duck. Fabulous. Much better than anything you'd buy at Toys R Us!

The village fete.

Who doesn't love a good old english fete?
Being as it was so very very hot today, I was not intending to stay long this afternoon. I was on a mission to deliver Honor to her dancing and Brownie commitments, get some more lovely knitted toys and maybe get something nice to eat. I didn't have much of an appetite, though Henry had no problem with his ice-cream!

Honor and the rest of the maypole dancers opened the show.

Hubby cooled himself off by letting Henry throw wet sponges at him!

And I picked up a few homespun treasures myself and had a delicious beef, horseradish and watercress sandwich from a new stall this year... the WI stall.
We were there a good couple of hours as there was so much to see amd plenty of friendly faces to talk to. However we did give up before the infamous egg throwing competition as little Hope was getting far too hot and tired. She is asleep now and her new knitted animal friends are waiting for her to come and play when she gets up again.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010


Shame that there is no picture to go with this post. I disturbed a baby grass snake by our pond today, but it got away too quickly. How very exciting, though, and Hope didn't go into shock either. She just hissed enthusiastically. There are loads of little baby frogs in the pond right now, so plenty of food for our reptilian friends.

Honor and Henry (and I) have been very busy preparing end of term projects for school. They have had to produce 'All About Me' presentations for their new teachers and they are to be presented tomorrow when they have a transition day. My blog keeping has come in handy as there are so many photos available to illustrate what goes on around here! It's been a bit of a rush to finish though and with Honor also having to produce a scrapbook on her dream destination 'Florida' for her 'Seasons' Brownie badge. I'm just a little bit stressed!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Hope was coming to the end of her morning nap when I found a guest in the study. I ran to the kitchen and grabbed a large colander and trapped our slippery visitor, just for a few minutes... for educational purposes. After quickly looking up the baby sign for 'frog' on 'you-tube', I brought Hope down to meet a new friend. "Mummy found a frog" I said, while enthusiastically wiggling my fingers under my chin. I lifted the colander to reveal this exciting creature. Hope smiled amd even giggled approvingly... until the critter jumped.
Then I had to take some blog photos jolly quick before blowing into Hope's face to prevent her from passing out.
Oh well.

Yes, the weather has stayed nice 'n hot. Yes we did leave the World Cup in embarrassing disgrace. Yes, I can still smile and say 'hello' to the German mums at the kids school, even though one of them overtook me with her pushchair the other day. Yes, I get it. We are too slow!!!
Terrible fans that we are, we gave up at half time and went down the garden to play in the pool. Time much better spent in my opinion.
Hubby decided, on account of the weather, that it would be a good time to take some annual leave. Plans were put in place to do things... ie: take down the wonky shed, build a tree house and take some 'Mummy and Daddy time' to go and have a lunch somewhere quiet together, before the big kids break up for the summer hols.
Well. The wonky shed is still there and there is still no tree house in the 'Lost Garden of Hooligans', but we did make it to this lovely pub 'The Albion' on the creek front for some nachos.