Jack gets to interview Alfred the Great

Me: Do you think you deserve the name “Alfred the Great”?

Alfred: I don’t know if I deserve it because all I did was uphold the honour of my kingdom.

Me: That’s very modest of you. How long did it take you to design the burhs?

Alfred: Well I’m not quite sure how long it took. You lose track of time when you’ve been dead 1013 years.

Me: Poor you. How did you feel after the Battle of Eddington?

Alfred: I felt exhilarated.

Me: Is the story about the cakes true?

Alfred: Well I don’t know. I forgot well I was dead.

Me: Thank you very much Alfred you can go back to your coffin now

Alfred: Thank you very much.



The best laid plans of mice and men…

…are sometimes¬†incompatible¬†and someone has to lose.

On Friday that someone was me. ¬†Standing on my computer chair in my dressing gown, at 6.30am, drinking my morning coffee, while a mouse ran around the bottom of it was not a good start to the day ūüôĀ

That would be why there was no practical activities in the smell section of the Senses project!

Having spent an hour cleaning behind oven and setting down poison etc (once upon a time I favoured humane traps, now I have a just get rid of them view and as Pete is the one who has to dispose of them I leave it to him) I was feeling rather jumpy.  So we all went out for breakfast.

Didn’t fancy going straight home so boys and I went down to the park on the beach. ¬†Jack agreed to walk along the top¬†promenade – was still jumpy, but a small step on conquering the dog fear.


Having been beautiful and springlike all week, it was cold though. ¬† So after an hour or so we left and went for a hot chocolate and cream tea in the newish (first time we’ve been anyway) tea shop in the village. ¬†Then pottered around the village before home where we rushed off the last of the senses project and they went out to play with friends while I got on with some work (with my feet up on a chair – I’m not that brave!).

Science Week

Carrying on with the Science week theme both boys did a Hands of a Child lapbook on the senses last week.


We looked at one of the senses each day


We made a ‘Whisper-ma-phone’ (from the Lorax) and played a gme recognising sounds and locations when blindfolded.



We dug out a box of Optical Illusions Jack had been given for Christmas last year and had fun with 3d specs and kleidoscopes.



We investigated changes in texture by feeling dry lentils and ones soaked in water, did a scavenger hunt based on finding things by texture, made a collage and tried to identify items by touch alone.



We looked at the link between taste and smell, trying to recognise dried fruit (similar look and texture) with nose held.



Plans went a bit awry here so we just did the paper and pen stuff.  Had planned something to do with strong smells and fans and timing how long the smell spread over the room.


Last week was National Science and Engineering week.  On Monday since we still had Grandpa Bob staying (hence transport) and Jack was far from back to his best, we abandoned the books after lunch and headed to Intech, a hands on science centre near Winchester.

Over the years there have been numerous home ed trips to Intech, and everyone has raved about it. ¬†But because of the location and the fact they’ve usually been on a day where I need to be home by a set time we’ve never been so I was keen to see it. ¬†Well lets just say we won’t be going again!

Don’t get me wrong the boys enjoyed it. ¬†But we’ve been to a number of these centres and this one was poor in comparison. ¬†Too many things didn’t work, only about half the exhibits had explanations and there were few staff on the floor and they didn’t interact with the kids at all. ¬†It was all a bit tired and jaded. ¬†Bob and I couldn’t help comparing it to Techniquest down on Cardiff Bay, which is bright, fresh, lots of friendly staff around (usually students), everything well explained, twice the size and cheaper!


Manor Farm

Last Sunday Jack was poorly (properly lay on the settee, miss Gang Show poorly), Bob was staying and the sun was out, so we left Pete and Jack to it and headed up to Manor Farm.

A lovely afternoon and one that will go down in family folk lore as the day Grandpa Bob got pooped on by a cow ūüôā




Towards the end of last week we had a ‘sciency’ mood.





And not forgetting….


Building structures out of spaghetti and marshmallows. ¬†Not connected to anything but I’d done it with my Rainbows the night before and it’s fun! ¬†Sam went on to add so many more bits of spaghetti to this that they looked like it had walls, but unfortunately it collapsed before I got a picture.

Last Friday I took Sam to a Science workshop at the Kings Theatre in Southsea. ¬†I spent many hours hanging around outside these things when Jack was younger and Sam was toddling so this time Pete took the day off so I could leave Jack behind (too old) and go in with Sam. ¬†As it happens because I’d stayed down stairs to wait/make arrangements for late comers by the time I got up to the room, he was seated in the middle and it was long and thin and I had no chance of discretely slipping through to join him. ¬†One of the staff were seated with them anyway. ¬†So I hung out at the back gossiping quietly. ¬†He had a lovely time though, if you want to see what they got up to it is best to look at Susie’s blog, she was more alert than me and took photos.

We then enjoyed a nice civilised lunch with friends at a nearby cafe. ¬†I must admit it was very nice just having one with me, no negotiating, trying to balance competing wants. ¬†And it is nice for Sam to spend time with friends his own age without Jack around. ¬†Although they are Jack’s friends too and he will join in with their games he gets bored after a while and is then a pain in the bottom. ¬†I should say the same is true in reverse. ¬†I have no doubt that the boys get on much better than they would do if they went to school, but it is also clear as they get older that they need their own space, sepearate friends and activities more and more. ¬†Tricky!

Healthy Bodies

To tie into his fitness badge at Cubs, Jack did a Hands of a Child lapbook on ‘Healthy Bodies’ – exercise really.

 Which gave lots of opportunity for jumping around.

 And for some reason the fact that I hurt my knee playing football on the Kinect was a source of amusement!


There is a definite feeling of Spring in the air the last few weeks. ¬†Here the first nice day was greeted with a picnic lunch on the front lawn. ¬†Not sure of the wisdom of top removal in February but I’m not 6!

It also motivated me to start tidying out my craft and toy cupboard and Sam’s room – note the word start, it is now all in a bit of a mess! ¬†The boys had fun with some long lost toys though.

I’ll admit he does look rather bored but he got it out and played it off his own bat, I only asked him to do it once more so I could video it! ¬†There has also been lots of jigsaw doing.

The appearance of the sun coming out has made me realise how much worse Jack’s dog phobia has got and how difficult it makes things. ¬†He’s always been slightly nervous but was fine when he was really young, wouldn’t court their attention but wouldn’t run away. ¬†My dad had greyhounds until he was 2 or 3 and he was perfectly fine with them. ¬†Then one day a neighbours bloodhound jumped at him and knocked him over. ¬†Bare in mind he was 4 and this thing was big enough for him to have rode it. ¬†After that he would get out of the way whenever a dog was near him. Then one day a couple of years after, when he was playing outside on the front lawn while I was getting ready to go out, another neighbours dog got out of their garden and chased him into our house and jumped on him. ¬†After that he was always alert when there was a dog nearby, watching it out of the corner of his eye.

About 18months ago we had a bad experience where we were in some nearby woodland and a boxer puppy ran up and jumped at me and while I was playing with it, Jack popped out of the woods, saw the dog and ran. ¬†The dog, thinking he was playing, gave chase. ¬†By the time the owner and I caught up an hysterical Jack was in a ditch with the dog on top of him licking his face. ¬†An apologetic owner removed the dog and headed back to the field while the boys and I went back through the woods. ¬†But he obviously let it go when he got back to the field and it came straight back to us, and managed to knock both boys flying into a bank of nettles! ¬†From then on Jack started to actively want to avoid anywhere with dogs off the leads, I would insist we cross the recreation ground (quickest way to village/scout hut/library – anywhere really!) but harder to do things like the beach which are supposed to be fun, when they are not fun because he is stressed and constantly looking for dogs. ¬† Crossing the recreation ground he would be very jumpy, eyes everywhere, but the way they should be, darting here and there to make sure you were between him and any dog, close to tears if a dog came 50 yards away… All in all not pleasant walks!

Then last Autumn (my patience used to get quite thin) we had a serious chat about it and he agreed he was being silly, that nothing bad had happened to him and even that boxer dog was friendly and his fear would not help anything, turning and running was the worst thing to do. ¬†He agreed to try and relax. ¬†And would you believe it that very night, crossing the field in the dark , another dog came jumping at them with an owner that made not the slightest move to stop it even when both boys were hysterical. It later turned out that the dog had snatched Sam’s favourite ball – one I won on Llandudno pier -out of his hand and that was why Sam was hysterical!

Since then he is in tears if you suggest walking over the recreation ground and refuses to go anywhere unless he knows there will be no dogs.  He is okay if they are on a lead but if he has the slightest doubt that there will be a dog off a lead he digs his heals in.  Sam has also picked up on it and is jumpy around dogs (not helped by the loss of his ball).

It is incredibly difficult and is definitely having a marked impact on all our moods as we are not getting out and about anywhere near enough and we’re all more stressed and snappy. ¬†We have the recreation grounds with playground, tennis courts (where we played a lot before things got this bad) and plenty of space to run around, 1 min from back gate. ¬†The beach is 5 mins walk away at the bottom of the road. ¬†There is a lovely area of shrubland where we go brambling 10 mins walk away and a nature reserve 20 mins walk away. ¬†But he won’t go to any of them. ¬†There is no re-energising and enjoyment ¬†in wandering the same routes through housing estates!

It is also having an impact on our social life as it is difficult to meet up with others. ¬†So much of home ed happens out of doors. ¬†The local group is setting up a ‘nature’ meet, I’d love to take them, as once upon a time it was exactly their sort of thing (i.e somewhere Jack could climb trees). But Jack looked so petrified when I suggested it that I just don’t think it’s feasible ūüôĀ

I need to help him start to get over this otherwise I’m going to end up going slowly insane. ¬†But I have absolutely no idea how ūüôĀ

An occasional option for outdoor play space though presented itself to me the other day, I’d had my passport interview in Portsmouth early in the morning and instead of heading straight home we nipped into the Dockyard (have a pass) and spent an hour playing on the deck of a deserted HMS Warrior (actually they played and I sat on the floor reading my Kindle!).

They are spying on me!



Museum of London

At the start of the month we had a night up in London. ¬†Towards the end of February it is mine and Pete’s birthday (same day – 10 years apart) and by sheer coincidence it is also our wedding anniversary ūüôā ¬†Rather than swapping presents we try and have a weekend away (to spoil the pair of us at the same time) as close as we can manage. ¬†Not exactly a romantic break as we always take the kids and thanks to the constraints of Jack’s Gang Show rehearsals we could only manage one night.

The idea was we’d treat ourselves to a curry down Brick Lane. ¬†We have now decided though that in 13 years we’ve never had a decent one there so we won’t bother again. Also in recent years a practice has developed of having people stand in the doorway, offering discounts and trying to persuade you in, has destroyed the whole charm of the place. ¬† This time we went to a buffet restaurant to accommodate the boys and me (I tend to stick to vegetarian dishes as very fussy with meat) – 6 curries, 2 unspecified fish, 1 beef (bone in Pete’s experience), 1 chicken (with no chicken left in it – Jack had last piece), 1 veg (with very little veg left and 1 liver – I ask liver curry! In a buffet! Unfortunately by the time I got up to get my plate Pete and the boys had nearly finished theirs otherwise I’d have insisted we left. ¬†As it was we then went to a cafe style place down the road and had a plate of mixed starters and popadoms as we were still hungry. And I still ended up with a Cadbury’s Creme Egg picked up from the corner shop¬†on the way back to the hotel being the bulkiest part of my meal. ¬†We opted to learn from the experience, see the funny side and leave behind our nostalgia for pre kids Friday nights out in favour of finding decent food in future ūüôā

Anyway this isn’t supposed to be a restaurant review blog, although I’ll ask again liver curry ? in a buffet? what is that about???

Friday we took a bus through the City to the Museum of London. ¬†Bit vague on what some of these are now I’m afraid…

Museum is well worth a trip.  Although there are no photos there was a fascinating area at the start about pre Roman London.

Then it was a walk through the City with time to lark about with a statue

Before going to the hotel

On Saturday we took a trip down Oxford Street and then spent a few hours in Hamleys, leaving with a Lego kit and a football kit for a toy rabbit!  Then home, a nice weekend.

Flags, Flying Horses and Feeling Blueggh!

Crikey nearly 3 weeks since I last blogged.

Reasons being, I have been rather busy of an evening making flag printables for all the Commonwealth countries (54 – if you include the suspended Fiji – if you’re interested) for Activity Village. ¬†I am going to have to insist that everyone I know does a project on Belize so the colouring flag gets used, it took hours to draw!

After a few hours of that an evening I couldn’t face any more time on the computer and have been working hard finishing off the birth sampler I started at Christmas for a baby which is 6 weeks old this week. ¬†Pleased with the result though, although it was a right nightmare to find a frame to fit it.

Apart from that we’ve also lost our groove. Everyone seems to have been ill since Christmas, Sam and I came down with stomach bugs since I last blogged and even now Jack is in our bed now as he has a chest infection and is running a temperature. ¬†Everyone has been low, grumpy and snappish and it has seemed a much more pleasant occupation of an evening to go to bed with my Kindle (have I mentioned that I love my Kindle) than to reflect on the day.

We have been up to stuff though and I’ll try and fill in some of the blanks later in the week as too tired now.