Revolution and Illustration

I may have used the words ‘I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier’ yesterday and that was before we met Lucy Worsley :D. Looking down on original medieval documents and books will do that to me.  For a history geek with a love of books, yesterday was as good as it gets. Sam was very good natured and rustled up enough enthusiasm and interest to let me indulge.

The day started with a trip to the British Library for their Russian Revolution exhibition.  Was very well done, interesting, spacy and cool (BM could learn a lesson or two).

After a trip around the corner for lunch in what I think of as a proper London ‘caff’, the sort I’d have breakfast in to mop up the hangover 20 years ago, we went back to the British Library for a general look about.
We stayed about an hour exploring their Treasures of the British Library exhibition before deciding there was a real danger of never leaving. Bit like the Land of the Lotus Eaters that place 🙂  We’re back in October for the Harry Potter exhibition and can’t wait.  Need a general no agenda potter just to absorb the place too.

We walked over to Kings Cross to visit the House of Illustration instead. With a pause to goggle at the wonder of the St Pancras Hotel.
 Then a much, much longer pause to get very wet (no change of clothes this time – oops). House of Illustration, I would have been disappointed in if it had been our main agenda for the day. For a diversion while in the area it was enjoyed by all. I’ve spent years telling Sam he’d like anime, he’s finally convinced.

As an unexpected bonus the walk back to the bus took us past the Youtube offices and the very nice security guard let the kids go up and have a quick gander at the offices.  No guesses where they want to work now 🙂 There was a shop too full of ‘Youtuber’ tat.  I feel very, very old as I really don’t get the whole ‘youtuber’ thing :S

Summer Days

Blogging definite slipped way down list of priorities. Probably should be when I should try and make the effort to blog more really when we go more relaxed and unschooly as I miss recording exactly how much can be learnt this way. I no longer feel the need to though, I am happy with what we covered this year, he’s entitled to a rest and a holiday and if he was learning nothing for a month or so would it be an issue – no. In reality you can’t stop a child learning, he’s like a sponge, I just feel no inclination to analyse and document it.

What have we been up to practically since the last post?

We had a day’s home ed trip learning about Victorians and riding steam trains on the Watercress Line.
It was my Dad’s birthday last week so we spent some time with him on Thursday at Titchfield Abbey, playing with Nerf guns and treating him to lunch out. Sam very patiently spent a good deal of time helping a random toddler fire a small nerf gun (was scary to watch!) He is like the Pied Piper, collects small children about him whereever we go it seems.

Thurs afternoon was spent making vast quantities of playdough as Friday was the last under 10’s group of term.  Lovely session, 5 new families along and a lot of mess to clear up.  I do love playdough. 

Sam spent the time I was at the group shopping for a birthday present for my Dad and hiding out in Costa. We had lunch and shopping and a leisurely afternoon as Sam had bought Sim City for his DS.

Weekend was normal pottering (aka kindle/computer/ds play) with the exception of popping to see Grandad with cake and presents (birthday was Sat).

Plans for this week went by the wayside. We had a home ed session booked on bushcraft on Monday and plans to go geocaching yesterday.  Eczema flare up meant poorly cracked skin and swollen feet though and didn’t want to take risk of infection (we do get them).
Monday was spent finishing off cartoon strip for the HE comic we’re getting published, reading (History of the Russian Revolution in prep for tomorrow) and then computer play really.

Yesterday after starting off the day with a horrendous sick head ache I managed to make it out to see a hall for potential group meets with a friend and we followed up with tea and a chat while kids played Lego and Pokemon. Afternoon went in board games and then when Scratch wasn’t working he agreed to try a Python project. He ‘wants’ to do Python but wants to do it immediately and gets frustrated so needs coaxing. After a bit of a hiccup we did get it working to draw a robot though.

Today was my last Home Ed group session for rhe academic year. After an early morning BP check up Sam spent the morning programming a art project on Scratch based on Kandinsky’s Circles. Group was a  bit of a manic one (you can tell by the fact that my coffee was so cold I didn’t even attempt to drink it) but a lot of fun and messy children.

Westminster Abbey

The best thing about home ed from a selfish perspective is being able to explore and experience some amazing places that we just wouldn’t otherwise because of time, volume of people in holidays and cost. Got to love places that offer educational rate to home ed families – yesterday we spent the day exploring Westminster Abbey and it cost £10 for 2 adults and 3 children, amazing.
No photos from inside the Abbey not surprisingly but sufficient to say it was amazing. The children did a trail looking at the decoration and stained glass. While Rachel and I were very excitedly pointing out tomb after tomb of famous names (and we definitely missed a few). It definitely helped to have knowledge and context of history, wouldn’t like to go with children younger than ours, the more you know the more you appreciate what you are seeing. The guides were helpful and was easy to find people to ask questions of (we had quite a few).
I’m organising fewer larger structured trips in favour of self led trips like this. We were able to take our time and explore at our own pace. In the end (with the inclusion of a long picnic in the garden) we spent most of the day in the Abbey as although hot, it was decidedly cooler than outside.

 We were hit by a wall of heat when we came out, a quick discussion about whether we could be bothered to walk to Somerset House for a play in the fountains was a unanimous ‘No’ so we decided on an early train home. Until we spotted sprinklers across the road and spent an hour cooling off in them to the amusement of passers by 🙂It was an interesting day all round as our journey there was complicated by the State Opening of Parliament and the journey back to Waterloo took us past the anti-austerity protests.
Delays on the trains made it a long trip home but a brilliant (hot!) day.
Train daftness.

Quiet Days

It’s been a few days of being really sluggish. Finding it too hot to breathe properly never mind do much else.  We’ve read, watched documentaries, worked on graphs, kept up with English, Latin and Spanish.  We did make a paddle boat. Also spent a lovely afternoon in Flip Out, they have their air conditioning on so strong it was a reasonable temperature.  It was so quiet too, rather than fragmenting off in to small groups the kids all played together and it was easy to spot likely home eders so I had a walk round and found some new people and people I’d just not crossed paths with before even though I know they have been around for years.


While we were in Bristol we visited the science centre there.  I’d checked before hand and they offered home ed rates making it more affordable. As a matter of fact we ended up going back the day after as we hadn’t done the Animation Studio the first day and the two trips were still cheaper than one full price rate.

I can’t rate this place highly enough. We’ve done quite a few of these sort of places over the years (Winchester, Cardiff, Birmingham, Oxford, Science Museum…) usually we find them hot, loud and overstimulating. They range from a really dire experience that we’ve been put off ever stepping foot in again (Winchester, Science Museum) to the passable for a short time (Cardiff, Birmingham). This one though we spent about 6 hours in total in happily and would happily go again.

It was bright, airy and cool. We had easy accessible lockers for coats.  Even though there were hundreds of school children in there there were no queues and it didn’t feel over crowded.  Everything worked, was well explained and it didn’t have buttons for the sake of buttons.
The animation studio alone is worth entry at home ed rates.  Hope this link will take you to one of his videos.

Tried to limit photos.  The sand tray with contour lines probably took up 2hours of our visits.



We couldn’t look at the industrial revolution without a trip to Bristol to explore the works of Brunel.
We had a very wet day exploring the docklands and SS Great Britain, a very windy day at the Clifton Suspension Bridge (and visitor centre) and a quite pleasant day pottering around the old city. 

Writing, Wrestling and Relaxing

Weds morning was a bit wobbly getting out the house, 2 big days out on the trot took their toll on Sam combined with horrendously high pollen counts. I just said City Museum when I was asked where we were going, decided mentioning we were doing a creative writing workshop would have lead to mutiny. Was the right move, he loved it! 
Inspired by some, seriously drab in my view, paintings of wartime Portsmouth he has sketched out a 3 book series of diary style books telling the story of WW3 from the perspective of a dog.

There were other home educators in the workshop, not as many as I thought there would be a free workshop like this posted on the home ed group I thought would get a bit of interest. The ones who were there were friends though so a picnic in the museum gardens followed.

Before home for an afternoon of relaxing (well some work for me) on the Xbox playing wrestling with Jack. Today was supposed to be relaxing but he needed to tidy his room and go to the library. Then he went straight back out since he forgot to buy the Beano. Me, I worked, organised home ed stuff, made plans for a trip away next week (mainly by emailing the places we’d like to visit and asking if they do home ed discount) and cleaned – doing that without having to rush out is the closest to relaxation I get.
Grandpa is staying now for a few days so busy again it is.

Walking! Lots of Walking!

That has how we’ve spent the last two days.

Yesterday it was London. We met up with my Sister in Law and family and explored the Olympic Park.
Afterwards we headed over to Whitechapel. 20 years ago when I was only 18 I went to London for the first time to stay with a man I’d only known for a few months and he took me on a tour of the East End showing me sites linked to Jack the Ripper! Well the short story is that that didn’t scare me off and ‘reader, I married him’. Yesterday we did a shorter and tamer version with Sam, looking at relics of Victorian London.  There were a lot fewer pub stobs than last time.

Today’s walk was closer to home. We did the Treasure Trail of Old Portsmouth. Can’t recommend these enough, we had great fun and caught the murderer 🙂

It was a rush to make it to the theatre for our show and lunch ended up being crisps and ice cream! Love the building this theatre is in but show was ridiculously short and organisation is rather rubbish. A real pity as could be so, so much more. 
All in all a lovely day though.

Things you can’t teach

Kindness, compassion, respect for and awareness of the needs for others, compromise…

This week has highlighted that so much on a national level. My facebook feed has been full of ‘look for the helpers’ quotes and memes and there was plenty to see.

On a much smaller scale my boys have given me plenty of encouragement that they are growing up in to fundamentally decent human beings who, ignoring the fact that they are my children so of course I love them, I can like as individuals because of who they are.

I’ve commented already on what a star Sam was earlier this week when I was struggling, immediate response was what could he do to help?  On Thursday we were out at a home meet and a new child Sam’s age came along, a quick wave of the hand was all it needed to get Sam out of a game to say hello and take new child off to join in with Sam and friends.

Friday was what really prompted this post.  We had a day out ‘for me’! Sometimes I can dress up a visit I really want to do as educational and interest him in it (art exhibitions in particular) but a trip to a couple of Jane Austen exhibitions held no interest for him and being selfish I wanted to join them myself without worrying about involving him. He was perfectly happy to accompany me though, made no complaints at all and we worked the day so there was stuff he’d enjoy too.

As the exhibitions were in a library Sam ended up taking himself off to read in the children’s library leaving me free to potter at leisure collecting him at the end to show him a few things of interest to him.

After we finished up there we went to a toy shop to get a present, Sam loves picking presents for boys a few years younger than him 🙂 We spent ages pottering in there.

Street market for a browse and collect lunch and then to the park we went. I think this is our second favourite park after Jubilee Gardens in London. Not sure why, I think it is the setting.

Sam played happily while I sat in the shade with my sewing. Overheard a pair of mums near me (who hadn’t connected him to me) commenting on how lovely Sam was. He was spinning their toddlers on the roundabout and I think they were relieved to not have to venture out of the shade.  It always makes me smile to see the chain of small children he seems to gather around him in a playground 🙂
We spent some time watching the eels and fish and playing ‘Pooh leaves’ (leaves in plentiful supply, sticks weren’t) on the bridge before leaving the park.  Ice cream on Cathedral green before heading home hot but happy.

Busy Days

We’ve had a hugely busy couple of days, good ones though and bits woefully short of photos with others perhaps over represented but hey ho.
We started Thurs with an early morning Tesco shop and a early start to Sam’s work as we were expecting someone round for coffee.
Again a no show but taking the deep breath and ‘be kind, you never know what others are going through” mind set.
We spent much of the morning getting frustrated with an origami set for making geometric shapes.
After lunch we decided to crash a home ed coffee afternoon in a local cafe.  Pleasant afternoon, Sam went to the park to play with others, I drank coffee and chatted.  It was gone 4pm by then so we caught a bus to Gosport for tea in KFC as a treat and then headed to the Submarine Museum for one of the twilight tours they are laying on for home educators. Was not what I expected, the tour was not of the big sub you see here but a smaller one and we didn’t really go into the museum it was all in the education suite. However, I suspect we had more fun as a result. We’ve toured the big sub many times and been in the museum many times. Plus we have passes and can go whenever we want so nice to do something different.
A couple of Sam’s friends came back for a sleepover after.

Friday was a morning of play before Sam’s friends were picked up about lunchtime.  We spent the afternoon finishing off the treasure trail of Gosport we’d started with friends a few weeks ago. Sun was out and it was a lovely afternoon and we’ve located a lovely picnic venue for one day.