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 ūüôāIt 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.

Geffrye Museum

A photo heavy blog, featuring lots of nice chairs. A lovely day at the Geffrye Museum in London.  It’s converted almshouses (which I now understand what they were at last) and the history of the home.  I loved the tour of the alms house, the pre 1900 rooms best and the beautiful gardens, very glad we waited until they were open. Sam was taken with the exhibition of teenage bedrooms and was talking about redecorating his.
Total gem of a place. 
Although better booking system for tours/activities and a ban on big buggies (or a one way system) would improve it.


Charles Dickens House and The Foundling Museum

After a quiet start to the month itchy feet hit and we were ready to add some flesh to watching and reading we are doing on the Victorians.  So we headed to London to explore Charles Dickens House and The Foundling Museum.
Both were lovely places if not the most child friendly. My friend’s 8 yo wasn’t really engaged by much of it but the older two really seemed to enjoy it.  I think the ability to read the displays and trails helped plus of course familiarity with the Dickens’ stories. 
The lady behind the desk in the Dickens Museum was really lovely.
The things that stick out were the tokens in the Foundling Museum, we found one engraved to a ‘Stephen Large’ had to wonder if an ancestor.  The names given to some of the children caused much amusement.  There was a William Shakespeare, a Julius Caesar, Francis Drake and even a Robin Hood and a Little John.
Mis Havisham’s wedding dress and a hedgehog in the kitchen stick out at the Dickens’ house.  The contrast between Dickens’ huge writing desk and the tiny writing table used by Jane Austen was striking.

Pure Gold

Some days are just like pure gold and Weds was one of them. ¬†We were up in London yet again and the day started with an early morning trip to Sam’s favourite park in hazy sunshine and had it blissfully to ourselves.

20160922_2 A walk and a sit on some of the rather bizarre benches that now adorn the Southbank followed. ¬†Paused to recall visit to St Paul’s earlier in the year and spot where we’d climbed to.

20160922_9 Then we got to our destination! Finally got in to see this, wanted to since it opened. ¬†No photos of course but it was wonderful, never enjoyed an exhibition more and considering a trip back minus the boy before it finishes. ¬†He enjoyed it too, I’d picked up the audio guide to keep him entertained which did the trick, he isn’t a bad companion for this sort of thing (much better than Pete or Jack would be anyway).

20160922_10 View from balcony of the Tate.  Spent quite a while out here musing on computer animation. 20160922_13 In other words how they made this?

Having had my big treat (of the year!) I set about making it up to Sam. ¬†Lunch at Pizza Express did it. ¬†I wasn’t impressed but he loved it. ¬†Look less manic I said!

20160922_15 After lunch we walked into the City.  Sam has been asking loads of questions about money, interest rates, inflation and exchange rates so we decided to take a trip to the Bank of England Museum.

Fabulous place.  Lots to explore hands on about trying to keep a steady economy.   Sam was so excited to touch real gold and feel how heavy it was.  Even did the trail!  Highly recommend a visit.

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Long discussion about ‘con artists’ in particular people dressed as Buddist monks who corner you when you can’t get past them under Southwark bridge and demand a donation of ¬£20 for plastic tat that says peace on it and why Mum is not her usual polite self to such people!

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Friday saw us back in London. ¬†This time with friends, we managed to nearly fill a carriage as there were 20 of us on our train (and to Sam’s delight, although vastly outnumbered he did have male company).
The venue this time was a video introduction to and a tour of Parliament.

We’d done a tour last year and it was completely different, I knew they varied depending on what was going on that day but it didn’t overlap at all. ¬†The big difference was that the House’s weren’t sitting so we were able to go onto the floor of the Commons (might rank as one of the most exciting things ever for me ūüôā ).

We saw the old debating chamber full of statues of ex-prime ministers and the Members Library and one of the Division lobbys as well as the Commons chamber.  Not allowed to sit down or take photos in the chamber unfortunately. So here are a few in the debating chamber and Westminster hall.

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I had vague plans to try and go to the O’Keeffe exhibition after but we were a lot later out than I expected so it was picnic, park and catch the train home with friends.

A lovely end to a fabulous week.

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Kensington Palace and So Much More

Wednesday was one of those days that you know will stick with you as one of the great home ed days when you look back.

As you have probably gathered I love days out. Sam given the choice would rarely leave the house but with only very rare exceptions is very good at embracing and throwing himself into things, particularly when there is just us to please, and does obviously enjoy it.

I am a firm advocate of learning by doing and seeing, so where better to start a study of Queen Victoria than at the palace where she was born.


We had a look at a interesting take on a timeline of kings and queens.
We started from the early days of the Palace as a royal palace, in the Kings and Queen’s apartments of Mary II and William III.

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Then we moved on to the Victoria Revealed exhibition. ¬†It was lovely done with quotes taken from her numerous letters and diaries. ¬†For some reason instead of having information boards on things they had books in each room that had the floor plan and info in. ¬†We didn’t like that, Sam devours information boards normally. ¬†Was fascinating to see exactly how small she was – we reckon about 2 inches taller than Sam.

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Sam agrees with me that Prince Albert is a bit of a hero. ¬†Until I read a biography recently I hadn’t realised that the whole museum quarter of Kensington and the cultural institutions around them were his brainchild and were funded from the revenues of the Great Exhibition. ¬†What a gift to the Nation!

Although it didn’t interest Sam he humoured me enough to come and look at the fashion galleries. ¬†Remember this one so clearly. ¬†I loved the sketches.

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After the museum we picnicked and explored the grounds.  Spent a long time in the Diana Memorial Playground and ended up walking back through Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park and Green Park catching Pokemon on the way.

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An Interlude

As this blog shows I get to do a lot with Sam.  Not so much with Jack whose life is far too busy to accommodate much time with me.  The slightly ironic thing is our interests overlap much more.  Theatre and musicals in particular being one.

We simply had to go and see the new musical for Disney’s Aladdin, to this day we are all word-perfect on the songs (and much of the dialogue) it has been watched so often. ¬†Sam wasn’t bothered either way so decided to leave him home with Pete.

Lovely couple of days shopping and exploring the West End (including a little detour down Charing Cross Road to restock book shelves).  Although it was far too HOT!!!!

Oh should have said Aladdin was amazing!  Really, really fabulous.  So colourful and the staging was brilliant!

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The photos below are from M&Ms World. ¬†A shop dedicated to M&M merchandise, we simply couldn’t resist.¬†20160812_120240 20160812_12110520160812_121538



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‚Äôs 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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St Paul’s Cathedral

Have I ever mentioned I love home ed? ¬†One of the major selling points is the trips and opportunities on offer, at prices we couldn’t afford full price and at times when places are quieter. ¬†If you are prepared to do a bit of organising or find a friend that is ;).

Some of these trips (such as this one) I suspect appeal far more to the adults but we hope they build memories and experiences for the children. ¬†We did get a small demonstration of this on Monday, when shown the organ at St Paul’s the children were able to relate it to a workshop about 18 months ago in a local church where they’d been allowed to play the organ and see the pipes. ¬†Plus the talk of Nelson when we went to see his tomb is obviously something very familiar to them.

St Paul’s was amazing; really, really amazing! We had a tour, looked at some of the tombs (Wren, Nelson, Wellington), marvelled at the ceilings, heard how it was built, which bits were damaged and rebuilt etc. ¬†Then we climbed the 500+ steps to the three galleries. ¬†The Whispering Gallery where you could hear the voice of someone speaking into the wall reverberate to the other side of the gallery was I suspect one of the kid’s highpoints. ¬†The views from the external galleries were the best bit to me though.

The only photo we were allowed to take inside was the children in the choir seats.


So lots of outside!
20160222_142129 SAM_2155 SAM_2157 SAM_2159 SAM_2160 SAM_2163 SAM_2164 SAM_216720160222_151248Plans for the morning went a bit pear-shaped as they have a habit of doing. ¬†Meant rather than travelling as a group we ended up all making our own way. ¬†Actually as much as we enjoyed the time with friends,¬†it was lovely to have a chilled morning. ¬†Seems ages since we’ve been up just us. ¬†Entertained ourselves on the train with the puzzles in the newspaper, spent some time playing in puddles and had a leisurely early lunch while we¬†dried out a bit.

20160222_110734With time to waste we popped in to the Tate Modern.  Not my cup of tea but Sam is getting surprisingly good at interpreting modern art.  Was hoping to catch the popart exhibition as seeing how much he enjoyed doing surrealism last term I thought the more modern playful stuff is the way to go and had picked popart for this term but exhibition closed last week.  We did, however, find a gallery with works by artists we recognised.

Mondrian’s20160222_115945 Picasso20160222_120156 Dali20160222_120216Plus plenty of ‘what on earth is that?’ stuff. ¬†Sam could recognise a human body in this :/20160222_115734Quite liked this one.
20160222_121046 This one is just someone trying to wash the wall after a child has been scribbling really.  I have a patch like this under my stairs to show how often I decorate.20160222_121249

Is it Art?

We had a trip to London on Weds. ¬†The focus was an exhibition on Celts: Art and Identity. ¬†I wasn’t able to take photos in there so you’ll have to settle for the programme and Sam’s entry into his Book of Centuries. ¬† It was a fantastic exhibition, the intricate nature of some of the metalwork is breathtaking.


20160108_1We were accompanied by some friends and the children managed a very respectable level of concentration.  We decided not to push our luck and try for more of the British Museum, instead we took a long walk through the city down to the Tate Modern.

I’ve said before that the best thing about the Tate are the views back across the river to the city and the turbine hall. ¬†I love the architecture and Sam loves to play there.
I haven’t changed my mind! ¬†I just don’t get most of the exhibits, many look like randomly abandoned bits or children’s scribble, and then you get stuff like this…

SAM_2122It is supposed to represent exactly what it looks like apparently!  How is that art?

I’m not totally against modern art. ¬†Sam and I are looking at Surrealism this half term and while not something I would put on my wall, I can see the artistic merit.

This week’s focus was on dreams. ¬†We looked at Paul Nash’s Landscape from a Dream ¬†and I gave Sam the task of a piece of artwork based on one of his own dreams using any medium he liked. ¬†He chose sketchwork and coloured pencils,