… was wet!!!!

We like to take the boys to London often for day trips and short breaks, making use of Travelodge special offers.  When we’re up there though we try not to do more than one or two ‘touristy’ things otherwise everyone gets tired and grumpy and we find that everyone loses interest in the museum so there is no point. Do one thing well and absorb the most from it is our approach to tourism.  Also if you spend all your time in Museums and touristy bits you miss the buzz of London streets, both Pete and I were in our late teens the first time we went and feel we missed out.  We like to give the boys a flavour of the different areas of London; the markets, back streets (Pete can do a surprisingly good tour of the Jack the Ripper area – he lived that way and used to entertain visiting economists with it back when he worked for the Corporation of London), local cafes and parks (one of the reasons for going to Greenwich was to spend some time relaxing in the park – gave up on that!).

Anyway we got in to London about 11am and nipped to a cafe behind Waterloo for an all day breakfast. We then walked down to the river, before catching the river boat to Greenwich.

What slightly complicates things for us in London is that I have a phobia of escalators 🙁  I was fine until about 9yo and then I had a nightmare about being eaten by one.  Obviously as an adult I conquered it to a large extent, particularly as I lived in London for a while.  But then when Jack was about 3 he fell down a really long one at Euston right from top to bottom.  I still feel sick at the memory!  Now I can manage them on my own, and if it is quiet and we can take our time getting on I’ll take one with the boys.  But trying to get on in London with hoards of people pushing and shoving, well the idea brings me out in a sweat.

The result is we always travel above ground (and ideally on foot) when we can.  This way allows you to see more anyway.  The river boat certainly gave the boys a new view of London. Although they were disappointed to see Traitor’s Gate bricked up.

When we arrived at Greenwich it was chucking it down so after a quick stop to model the hats Pete had bought him and the boys to keep off the rain

We ran into the nearest building, which happened to be the old Naval College and house a small museum.


The boys tried on gauntlets, naval hats, tried to pick up a lance and found a model cabin for a quick lie down.


While Pete posed for a portrait before investigating ever more elaborate ways to keep off the rain.

After a coffee and a potter around Greenwich market, we went back to the hotel with tea. Jack practised the magic trick he’d bought from the market and we played marbles (restocked at the lovely little toy shop in the market) and Astronauts.

Saturday, we dashed through the showers to the Royal Observatory, stopping to admire the views.

The building work at the front is for the equestrianism at the Olympics.

We went to the planetarium and around the astronomy galleries where the darkness made for rubbish photos.  Then we had a tightrobe walk along a small section of the prime meridian before heading home.



Pete went to a conference in London at the end of last week and came home with this gem of a link to an online ‘poo’ tracker.

That led to us getting slightly sidetracked – one of the many joys of HE

Here are some videos to entertain and educate.  The song is inspired, but I warn you letting your kids watch it can get a bit trying as they will keep bursting into song with “I love my Loo, and Loo loves Poo…”.

And if you still want to know more…

There are some interesting posters to print here (of course I accept my definition of interesting might not be the same as anyone else’s – except possibly young boys and home educating parents)

Pack of info and activities from Anglican Water

Roman sewers


Sunday, was Gosport Scouts annual St George’s Day Parade.  This year both of them were in it so we got to sit in a cafe and have coffee and read the paper … in peace!  After the service, Sam was invested by the local MP.  He might not look it, but he’s very happy!

Fun days

Following Gang Show, I felt Jack needed a holiday so we left the books alone. We had a quiet week getting back into the swing of groups and activities.  Not for the first time I was thankful he wasn’t in school, his friends were struggling with tiredness while he was having long lie ins, one day until 12.30! (Kindle helped!)

I busied myself getting up to date with Rainbow and household stuff and feel a lot happier without little things nagging at the back of my mind.

We also had a crafty splurge for work, in preparation for Olympics and Jubilee.

On Friday we were supposed to be meeting another home ed family in Southampton to go to the Titanic exhibition at the new Maritime Museum.  Unfortunately they were in quarantine for a sickness bug, so plans fell through.  However, as Jack had found what he wanted to spend his birthday money on in Toys R Us, we decided to go anyway for lunch and a potter round the shops.

We found a lovely ‘chocolate cafe‘ for lunch, where they sold cups of melted chocolate with your choice of sweets to dip in.  Think this is our regular place now (regular, as in the once a year trip into town).

Bit more of a potter and it was home to play with lego.

Ta da a dragon.

And the cat and rabbit got new outfits!


…no not sibling, boys are getting on well at the moment, it’s me who’s jealous!

Over the years I’ve got used to the kids beating me at games and things.  I even lost a chess game to Sam recently.  There are lots of things they do better than me or know more about.  Generally the only emotion I feel about that is pride, I’m pleased for them. And if I’m honest for myself too.  Yes, Jack’s spelling may be as good (if not better) than mine, but that must mean something is going right with his education.

But there are one or two little dreams I had when I was younger.  One in particular relates to a certain TV programme of which from the age of 7/8 I rarely missed.  Over the years I must have raised £100’s for their various appeals as I always took part.  Now Jack rarely watches it, has a spell of watching for a few weeks and then forgets and loses interest.

But look!

A second one!!!! Oh yes, there are a variety now-a-days!

It is not fair!!!!!! E-mail, now if email had existed when I was a girl…

On the plus side they read his story (why he got the badge – first was for a poem) and sent him a badge rather than contacting social services.

(I am proud of him really!)

The find of a lifetime

My name is Jack and I am about to tell you a story. Not one of rubbish made up baloney stories with cats in hats and foxes in socks. Not of space battles and demons. Nor of glamorous highway robbers and detectives deducting clues.

 This is not one of those stories with aliens or underground monsters. No my friends this is a true story of one night when I was 14.

 I was once walking down the road late at night when this crazy idiot jumped out of the bush.

 He must of had one too many at the pub because he started chasing me with a jagged bit of a broken bottle. I knew I had to get away from him quickly so I ran for the river with him in hot pursuit.

 When I got to the river I jumped in and swam away before he could follow. When I was sure he wasn’t following me I trod water for a minute.

That’s when I noticed the crocodile. It was gliding slowly towards me with a menacing look. I swam desperately to shore.

 When I climbed up I was in a spooky graveyard. Suddenly the drunkard who had chased me walked towards me.

 “Everything is going to plan” he said “I lured you to my robot croc and the croc brought you here. “What do you want with me”? I yelled.

 The man told me he must kill me to bring treasure out of the earth.

 I came up with a plan. I dodged behind the gravestones and hid behind the robot.

 I opened a control panel in the crocs head and set it to self destruct. I dived into the river as the croc blew up shattering the man who wasn’t drunk and some of the ground. When I swam back to shore there was a treasure chest in the ground.

7 years later

I’m sitting in my mansion now writing this and I hope the story will be passed on for generations.

The end

Double Figures!

See he was cute once!

Last Monday was Jack’s birthday.  Coming 2 days after Gang Show and with most of his friends going back to school we passed it uneventfully.

A lie in, brioche for breakfast and present opening (mostly money!) took up the morning.

We’d bought him a Kindle and he had some Amazon vouchers so he spent some time browsing and downloading books.

So he had something to unwrap (we’d let him have his Kindle early to encourage lie ins during Gang Show week) I’d got him a collectors folder and some packs of Match Attax cards.  So time was spent sorting those.  And I’d made him a Tatty Ted picture.

At lunch there was cake of course.

Afternoon was spent having a family party play on the X box Kinect until Pete and I collapsed in an exhausted heap and the boys played Lego Star Wars until it was time to take Sam to Beavers.  Pete, Jack and I nipped to the pub, before collecting Sam and a Chinese take away for birthday tea as requested by Jack.

Gosport Gang Show 2012

Back in October Jack auditioned for, and got into, the junior cast of the Gosport Gang Show.

For those who don’t know, Gang Shows are theatre shows put on by Guides and Scouts (and Brownies and Cubs).  They are based on the old musical hall concept with songs, dancing and drama sketches.  In Gosport, at least, they are not some quickly cobbled together, school stage affair, they are properly laid on theatre shows running for a week and performing to probably well over 1000 people.  All organised by a tremendous team of volunteers.

What has it meant for us?  Well it has meant that Jack has been out a lot (not alot!).  Rehearsal one evening a week at which he stayed late most weeks (since the friend giving him a lift had a daughter in the main cast too) and on a Sunday daytime too from February.    It has meant that we are extremely grateful to my friend who scooped him up with her brood and drove him there and back every Thursday making it possible for him to do it.  And it has meant we have become very thankful for the car (the car that we weren’t sure we wanted, never mind needed) being able to take him there on a Sunday was good and as for show week when he was there until 10pm/11pm every night, well it was worth its weight in gold.  It has been a constraint!  We have not been able to go over to South Wales for the last 6 months as Jack had committed not to miss rehearsals, weekend trips have been cut short, we’ve had to be home by 3pm on a Thurs to make time to eat before rehearsals meaning we’ve missed home ed group activities… The late night on a Thurs did effect moods (his and therefore mine) on a Friday and not in a good way.  And as for show week (and the week before) well there was no point trying to achieve anything at all then for anybody (I think Pete and I were more tired than Jack).

Was it worth it?  YES!

Jack has had the time of his life, he loved every minute of it.  Which makes everything else insignificant really.

Rehearsals gave him the opportunity just to hang around with kids all his age or older.  He is older (if only by a month in some cases, but in others by a year or two or even three) than pretty much all his friends so he appreciated not being the oldest.  Because they were older they were less supervised and given more responsibility and freedom, which they seem to have used up playing Top Trumps. There was also a (cheap) tuck shop which was a draw 🙂  He made new friends and reignited old friendships.  His best friend from pre-chool, whom we lost touch with over the years despite them living 2 mins walk away, was in it and the boys got on as well as ever and are now at the age where they can just go down the park and keep the friendship going themselves without need for the dreaded ‘playdates’.

His confidence and independence have come on massively.  If at this point last year he had been required to get up on stage in front of several hundred people dressed in a skirt, wig and bra top and do the can-can (no unfortunately I couldn’t take photos 🙁 )then I’m not sure of the response, I had enough trouble getting him into costumes for his drama plays (he didn’t want to ‘look a fool’).  He didn’t bat an eyelid, indeed he was rather pleased with himself and acknowledged that skirts are comfy but no he won’t adopt them as his style 🙂

But this confidence is more than just about practical things he is not afraid to do.  I can see it coming through internally, he is more confident in himself.  I see it when I watch him with groups of other children, he is less of a follower and has more sense of his own value.  He is still quieter than most but a lot of that is down to manners, he is never going to shout his way to the front of a group he is too polite for that.

This inner confidence is also coming through at home.  He is less reliant on my good opinion and guidance and more keen to go his own way.  Which although in practical day to day terms is not necessarily good, leading to a period of renegotiation of boundaries and relationships aka shouting and door slamming, it is as it should be.  I am a control freak, it is better I learn to back off a bit now and let us build a more equal relationship (although with well established boundaries) as we head towards teenage years.  In 10 years time hopefully he will have grown up and flown the nest, best to gain independence by degrees and with confidence in himself.

Here’s Jack’s view of show week

Hi there.

Mum said I had to write a post about the Gosport Gang show so here it is.

The costumes I wore were Bronze shirt for the opening. Edwardian, Skirt and costermunger for music hall. Scarecrow and music note shirt for Never Forget. Then we had an interval. Then we dressed up as cowboys for  Hoe down. Cave man for Cave dwellers. and Our cub uniform for the Finale

We did the same every day except some days I did the Finale and some days I didn’t.

We also had to wear make up but most people accidentally licked off their lipstick.

It was fun.


Yes I’m late I know!

In the run up to Easter we found ourselves busy; seeing schooled friends, attending activities at the library and having friends around and of course Pete was off the last day and a half of the week.  The result was although we weren’t ‘on holiday’ there was not a great deal of work done, but what we did we had fun with.

We looked at symmetry.


And co-ordinates


Logic (sudoku)


And wrote stories


One of the advantages of my work is that I always have a bank of these sort of activities to draw on.

Easter itself slipped by in a blur of Gang Show rehearsals, but we did find time to dye some eggs using home-made natural dyes.

Unfortunately I didn’t photograph the immediately and they faded a bit, the photo doesn’t how them well (part. green and pink) but we were pleased.  They were all boiled for 10mins in a mix of water, white vinegar and our colour.

Brown was coffee, yellow turmeric, pink beetroot, blue red cabbage.  The blue needed an hour or so soaking to get the colour.  Green were eggs dyed yellow and then soaked in the blue dye.

We also found time for baking, Easter nests and carrot cakes.

Sam made the paper chick he’d had as a birthday present and been hoarding for Easter.

We made Easter crowns


And of course there were chocolate eggs!

And finally here’s our season table.

I am the God of hellfire and I bring you …

…well, fire of course.

We started off sensibly by making a fire extinguisher from vinegar and baking soda.

And when that didn’t work (think I held it too far away) we illustrated why we always have buckets of sand at campfires.

We also looked at weighing a candle before and after burning it and results of depriving fire of oxygen.

Then we started building structures and burning them.

Ever more elaborate structures.

Then for good measure we threw on some paper caps.

Great fun was had by all.

Spring days…

While I’ve been lying in the sun reading and recharging the boys have been busy. Here is a snapshot of what they’ve been doing the last few weeks.

They’ve been busy reading too …

… and there has been lots of this…


… and some ice cream of course.

There’s been building…

…including attending a trial at a new Lego club in the village, which they both loved.

There has been some work too…

including some much needed handwriting practice…


we started a new human body project…


and Sam did some weighing and measuring…

which led onto baking of course.


We set up an experiment to test factors that affect corrosion.

We picked up some puzzles from a local charity shop which given us some fun.


Sam has discovered Beast Quest and is reading his way through Jack’s collection.  There have also been lots of requests to set him quests and the Beast Quest top trumps have come out of hiding.

We have made some spring flowers…

some to look at…

and some to eat, along with some marzipan chicks and bunnies.


Sam has been playing with sand.

And we’ve all been having fun with some stretches from My Daddy is a Pretzel (he’s a lion).

Finally here is one of the beautiful sunsets we’ve been enjoying.  I do like living by the sea.