Sporty fun

Today was our last meeting at the hall for the summer.  It was the first one that the weather has written off the garden.  As it happens it proved a timely intervention as although the window is now fixed (and covered in bird stickers!) the area around it is still cordoned off in case of glass in the grass and to add to the potential danger they had found a wasps nest in the grass around the corner.

It didn’t spoil the fun though.  I really love this group, just has such a lovely chilled, relaxed atmosphere.  Even if I never get to drink a hot cup of coffee, I am always wanted for something! By the end of the session many of the people who had been in the room next door drifted in to have a look what was going on and smile at us as noise level had gone up in a kids having fun way.

I’d massively over planned and the kids were busy crafting for far longer than expected.  We made footballer finger puppets and football spinners, shuttlecocks and paper plate tennis rackets, sunglasses – which may not be sporty but I’d bought them for the group on Friday and cancelled that session so thought we may as well get some use, painted with golf balls and did colouring, kit design and puzzles.

We then made edible Olympic torches from ice cream cones, cakes, yellow icing and red and yellow sprinkles.

By the time we’d tidied up and done a bit of construction work there was only time for one of the games I’d planned.  Pool noodle javelin.

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Harbour Tour

Tuesday saw us returning Oscar who had spent a couple of nights at ours and then heading to the Dockyard for what I thought would be our last visit for a while but I ended up promising we’d go next week after Code Club.

We did the harbour tour as it was really hot and being out on the water felt like a good move.  Compared to previous tours there wasn’t really anything in dock of note.  Sad to see them stripping Illustrious.  The banana boats are always quite interesting, we see the Naval and the passenger ships a lot but I tend to think of Southampton being freight but 70% of the UK’s bananas come via Portsmouth.  Reminded me that they were supposed to be getting back to me about a group visit, think they said next month, about 4 years ago!

I really couldn’t see when I was taking photos because of the light but love the clouds.  Clouds were something a bit special that day, a beautiful sunny morning was starting to give to afternoon of heavy rain bursts.  Resting your head on the front felt nice apparently, it vibrated.


20160628_115720 20160628_115815 20160628_115852 20160628_120331 20160628_120453 20160628_121109 20160628_122244 We had lunch and a stop in Action Stations.  Where we found another 3 home ed families, quite often find someone there 🙂  Sam did the assault course for a while before a school group showed and home eders scarpered.  We played downstairs for a while and rode the simulator.

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We then spent some time in Gosport picking up some stuff for Jack’s exchange trip with the school and today’s HE group.


The Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl

I almost feel guilty writing this as I am going to be saying ‘it was fabulous you should go’ and it closes on Sunday.  It was though.  We had no idea what to expect and I’m still not sure how to describe it really.  This was how the website put it  “this multi-sensory journey takes you through seven immersive worlds each exploring a different aspect of Roald Dahl’s life, discovering the secrets of a writer beloved by gazillions of children along the way.”

Back in February a friend and I were walking along Southbank and saw a poster for it and said ‘ooh!’  Looked at the costs and it wasn’t cheap but if we had 12 of us (we were already 5) and I could get us a schools tour.  Turned out a lot of friends fancied it and we were actually 42 of us and needed 3 tours :).  Most of us traveled up together on the train too which was nice.

It was a guided tour and much of it was in the presentation rather than the actual sets.  We went through a room filled with cardboard boxes, more into it (not sure on the reason I think it was about archiving), into a school room to talk about his early life, the Libyan desert for his RAF days, a bedroom for dreams, a woodland to talk about some of his books, a library with a real hidden door in a bookcase and finally the inventing room.  At this point Sam decided to be sick!  Luckily we got out of the room and into the toilets first.  Was fine after so must have been the stuffiness.

Could only take photos in the inventing room unfortunately so you will just have to take my word for it being good.

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As we’d broken down already into groups and families we then spread out to do our own thing after.  For us that meant going for lunch with a couple of other families and then going to the park.  We then headed home on an early train as the boys (had Oscar, Sam’s best friend in tow) had Minecraft and DVD plans.   If you forget the vomiting it was a very pleasant day.

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A Time Turner Would be Nice

Found myself typing a post on our local home ed group this morning saying I’ll run an art group.  If you haven’t guessed, although I lack skill personally, doing art appreciation – creating art based on the work of famous artists is one of my favourite things to do with kids.  If I can make Sam enthusiastic about this one then I must be okay at it too 😉

Then before pressing send I stopped and thought ‘when?’, ‘when do you possibly have a gap in group activities to fit one in or even in your own diary?’.  So I deleted it.  When I sent out the list of what was on this week there were at least 2 group activities every day and that is without counting a large number of regular groups which are closed numbers wise.  I think something would have to give way to it and what is that going to be?

I asked before confirming hall bookings for Sept and got a loud yes to everything continuing as is.  I suspect in reality that might not translate to numbers in Sep as lots of new ideas/groups popping up and people saying – ooh yes!  So possibly may have time (and halls) to play with but only time will tell.

In the mean time I am fighting the urge to say ‘ooh yes’ to lots too.  I want to be supportive of others organising stuff and the activities are our sorts of things but it is the fitting it in timewise and financially that is boggling the mind.

It really doesn’t help that our plans for what we want to achieve at home are increasing too.

So personal priorities we need:

  • At least one full day and two further half days at home every week.
  • At least one day a fortnight that can be used for all day trips, casual meet ups, hanging out with friends, having appointments, doing what we fancy when we get up that morning…
  • At least 1/2 a day for time with my dad
  • Ideally weekends and 2 evenings/late afternoons for work (my work!)
  • Of the activities Code Club is his favourite so as long as that continues, hassle though it is, it is the thing I will try and fit around.
  • The social sessions at Alverstoke are the ones that work best for us.  They are the ones that feel most like a HE group session should be.  Mixed age, relaxed, with no real agenda therefore we can do arty or science or cooking or games for variety, kids of all ages participating and playing group games together with little adult input.
  • The DIY group is the one most tied in to Sam’s interests.  It is the one that I find most interesting and he does too and the one I would really like to develop into a proper D&T/science investigation group in the future.  It is the one I expect we will need to lose from the numbers though.  Just seems to be a shortage of boys in particular of that age to whom it would appeal.  That might possibly be my art group.
  • The under 10’s group I will do as long as there is a call for it.  I enjoy it and keeps me thinking for work.  Although if numbers tail off space is good for so many other things and I have a LONG wish list and a book of one day plans 🙂
  • Of the new stuff being touted.  Trampolining is a priority to try and fit in.  Swimming would be nice but won’t happen in reality as no longer a direct bus there.  Possibly would if we lose Code Club.  Outdoor meets will always have to be a flexible, slot in on quieter weeks thing.

It’s so hard to prioritise what we want to do.  I have to sit on my hands sometimes to stop myself typing – Young Engineers Club, Crest, Philosophy, Art Awards, Book Group, Around the World sessions, History, Walks, Archery, Laser Quest, no end of one off workshops and trips I would love to book…  Just don’t have time or money.   Also have to face the fact that the most popular activities for Sam’s age group and the ones where most children he would/does get on well with go have absolutely no appeal to him or me.  Far prefer doing the book work educational stuff ourselves, we toy with going to some of the tutorials for the social aspect but doesn’t feel right.  One day probably.  Plus need to be mindful of the fact we’re home birds who burn out easily with too much socialising.

So good to see home ed thriving locally and so much on offer for everyone.  I would definitely rather have the dilemmas I have than the opposite.

Stormy Weather

The last couple of days have mostly been about trying to avoid Facebook while at the same time being drawn to it, moth to flame like.

Moments like these living by the beach comes into it’s own.  Nothing like the sound of the sea to offer calm and reflection.  We hadn’t planned to go to the beach when we left the house on Thurs but the pull was strong and that is where we spent our morning, before heading home via polling station and nipping in to check on my dad.

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I can’t tell you where Thurs afternoon went.  I think I read and Sam played a computer game we’d picked up from the charity shop that morning.

Friday was always going to be a funny mood sort of day with the referendum result and severe sleep shortage.  Despite really not wanting to we had to trek to the library for the meet there.  Once again everyone else ebbed away so it was just us.  However a new lady had said she was going to come so I couldn’t not go.  Thanks to a very late bus though we were very late so hoping she didn’t show rather than showed up before we got there.

As ever once we’re actually there I am glad we went.  I just can’t decide what to do with this one long term.  It was good to be away from the house.  We did quite a lot of maths in a push to finish off the year’s work (didn’t but very close) and then spent some time drawing.  We took along the Usborne Complete Guide to Drawing and sat there until well after we should have given up the tables, happily drawing away.  We’d never do that at home. too many distractions, which makes me wobble on giving up the library tables even though they feel like a bit of a bind.  We decided that treat of lunch in the library and a big slice of chocolate cake was a good idea after 🙂

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Busy Bees and Chilled Out Times

End-of-term-itius is upon us, it may have taken me far longer than it should have to recognise that this is a real thing for us.  Mainly as the whole ‘term’ thing didn’t really feature in our home ed world in the days before Jack went to school.  We’ve adjusted well on the whole and have come to make the rhythm of half terms etc a positive but do find this time of year the hardest, in an ideal world we’d down tools from about late May and bounce back with enthusiasm early August.  Just doesn’t fit around the reality of having one at home and one not though.

I’d planned well this year  Finished off some of our curricula already and don’t have much left on the rest.  Project work is drifting a bit but I’d picked stuff that is easy to let go, and as ever we’re picking up other stuff to fill the gaps.

After the excitement of Monday, Tuesday was a near to home day as Code Club was cancelled again.  We had a few errands to run and my Dad has been ill so we dropped in on him.  Most of the day was spent lazily though.  Lots of reading, still in Roald Dahl phase and a pile of new books had come through the post about Bunnicula, the Vampire Bunny (yes really!).  Then Sam worked on Scratch and read more while I did some of my FutureLearn Europe course and watched a rather bizarre version of The Tempest (Russell Brand and Shakespeare combined is odd).

Weds we did some bookwork and read more before heading out to home ed group for a visit from a bee keeper.  Was a very, very busy session but a nice one.  Lots of new and not regular faces.
20160623_1 20160623_3 20160623_4 20160623_6On the way home Sam gave me a list of things he wants to learn about and what part it is he is interested in.  SO back to the drawing board on next year’s plans then 🙂




Change of Scene

I needed to get properly away from the house yesterday. Shake off the black mood that was starting to engulf.  Things were just starting to overwhelm me; pollen count feels very high, teenager is troublesome, boy 2 is out of sorts, sleep is not happening, work is hugely busy, mood across the country feels dark following last week’s events and the upcoming referendum.  Plus Weds home ed group rocked me more than a bit; there have been practical things to deal and worry about but the ‘what ifs’ that have been playing in my head are worse.  An accident at HE group has always been my worst nightmare as I could so easily see how they could happen, and besides sending messages to the group have always felt powerless to avoid.  Yesterday was about saying to myself stop dwelling, yes it could have been worse but it wasn’t, be grateful and move on.

It was a good pick me up.  Sam was ‘reluctant’ originally – he’s in cocooning phase – but went along happily enough when he could see I was not taking not going out as an option.  With the rain falling steadily all morning we opted to head into London to the British Museum.  When you don’t drive so many places that others take for granted are a fuss to get to but London is very easy and not that expensive when you weigh up entry costs and what it offers.

We hung out in the Greek galleries for the morning to try and reinvigorate our project.  We’d taken our Book of Centuries along for some sketching.


Nereid Monument
Parthenon sculptures

We then had a look at the Greek and Roman life galleries upstairs which were much quieter.

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We’d had enough by then.  We love museums but little and often is the way to go.  So we headed off elsewhere for lunch and happened to chance on a very smaller Camera Museum with a cafe attached and virtually no one in there.  Two paninis and a huge slice of hot chocolate fudge cake followed.  Plus a little look at the museum.  The Spy/gun/camera from a James Bond film was Sam’s favourite.

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We were thinking of nipping in to the Cartoon Museum but it was closed so we headed off with the idea of watching the street performers at Covent Garden for a while.  However I wasn’t concentrating and after about 15 mins cottoned on that I wasn’t where I intended to be but was in fact somewhere better – the end of Charing Cross Road!  The bookshops of Charing Cross Road were a very frequent weekend potter in my London days, not as many now but we still managed a pleasant hour or two and a reasonable haul.

20160620_32A walk through Whitehall followed, sad to see the flags all flying at half mast.  Then a spell in Jubilee Gardens as the sun had finally come out.

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… I often post about having to be flexible and go with the flow.  Yesterday was one of those days for definite.

Eventually managed to get Sam up at 9.30.  We did maths and English and then he spotted a Beano comic maker on the table which he’d had for ever (I was searching for something) and there went the rest of the morning.  Not on the Beano thing but on comic strip drawing.  He hasn’t done any for ages.  Love that he was explaining tricks he’d used with proper comic makers jargon.  He may not have been drawing but he’s obviously been reading/watching videos about it.  I’d intended to try and do something on Greece for history as feel we’re drifting but hey ho, not going to interrupt if he’s engaged in something.


In the afternoon we were at the hall for a home ed workshop.  Sam wasn’t taking part as it was pitched at slightly younger.  He was happy enough to come though ‘it’s good to hang out with friends and not do stuff about bugs!’


I like hanging out with the younger ones sometimes and it was a lovely workshop.
Then one of the older children decided to come and see what was going on and entered the garden via a window thinking it was an open door!  A double glazed, toughened glass window.  Real stuntman style!

He was ok amazingly, cuts obviously but nothing too deep or with glass in.  Afternoon turned in to dealing with parish secretary (who was wonderfully understanding, particularly as she’d finished work and I’d summoned her from the hair dressers), glaziers (who were rather impressed and bewildered  ‘he should have bounced off, never seen anything like it’), standing back and shaking head while a friend struggled to free another child who had managed to get an arm stuck in a chair (how?!) and taking an extra 3 children home with me (siblings of stuntman who had gone to hospital).

Boys played Minecraft and worked on comics while I played and crafted with their sister.  Friend’s husband showed up in time for a coffee while they had tea.  Sam and I restored the house from the explosion of toy weapons that always happens when said friends visit, then I sat down to pizza and an entire bottle of wine.  Was not a day to worry about the diet 😀


Dockyard Deadline

Our pass for Portsmouth Dockyard expires early next month. We’ve had a pass pretty much non stop for 6 years now.  However we’re finding we’re visiting less and less.  Once upon a time we’d spend sunny afternoons being pirates on the deck of the Warrior and wet ones in Action Stations on an almost weekly basis.  Now we’ve done Explosion a couple of times this year but that’s about it.  Think I am going to let our pass go for now,

With that in mind we thought it was worth a last hurrah.  Although we forgot how much was there so looks like we need to find another day!

We started with the Warrior.


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Did the obligatory time in Action Stations, where the new assault course is open and I wavered on the not replacing pass thing.


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Last stop was M33.  We’ve only done that one once and 2 mins after we were on the ship Sam had turned green and said he wasn’t feeling well.  So it was nice to do it again feeling a lot less stressed. We stopped and watched the video on Gallipoli and then stopped for a lot longer to talk about it.  Up on deck one of the volunteers uncovered the ship’s gun and gave Sam a lesson in how to fire it (cripes!).

20160613_54 20160613_55 20160613_56 20160613_62After that we had coffee with a friend and Sam went back with them for the night.  When I picked him up this morning I was excitedly told ‘Claire fell down the stairs and fainted and we played lots of Magic’.  Good time then!  Not for poor Claire obviously.

Mixed Bag

Is the best way to summarise last week.  It wasn’t a bad one by any means, if I look at the photos it looked lovely.  Poor sleep patterns and very high pollen counts meant that emotions were heightened and everyone had a tendency to overreact and see the bad side.  Was a lot of effort to keep us ‘up’.

Tuesday was the definite downer of the week when CodeClub had to be cancelled due to computers down but they never bothered to contact us again so we’d trekked all the way there.  I did fix Minecraft on the laptop in the afternoon which cheered him up but may prove a bad call in the long term.

Weds was game designing at DIY club.  Think we were just lacking motivation, it was a pleasant enough afternoon.

Thursday we went over to Explosion museum with my Dad and his visiting friend.  We like it there and it’s one of the nicest places to sit for a cuppa.

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We bought a parachutist and a spring loaded rocket gun and spent most of the afternoon down the park.

20160612_38 20160612_41 20160612_42Friday it was friends’ birthdays (in the plural – twins) so we joined them for a celebration at Game Over (video game cafe) in Portsmouth.  We stopped by the exhibition at the museum first but it was mostly stuff we’d seen at the cafe and some games to play.  Had trouble getting them out though.  Sam spent all his time at the cafe playing one game apparently.  I sat outside and chatted to a friend I have not seen in far too long.

20160612_43 20160612_45 20160612_46 20160612_47 Running about while we wait for the bus.
20160612_50 The other big thing of the week was Sam has finally decided that we can read Roald Dahl.  They just didn’t appeal when he was younger.  Not ones for his sensitive soul.  Good timing as we’re off to an exhibition on them at the end of the month.  We read Fantastic Mr Fox on Weds morning and Esio Trot on Fri as he didn’t feel up to Scouts.  Love reading Dahl aloud, so much fun to be had with the voices.