Monday, 20 April 2015

First camping

Don't worry, we are still here. We're just busy. Not with anything exciting - just everyday life. But I will get around to back-updating soon. Promise.

In the meantime.....

This weekend was the first of our camping collective adventures. We were one family down due to ear infections, but the rest of us were keen and raring to go. Actually, all of us almost called it off in the week before as its been mighty chilly oop here in the north, but we braved ourselves, and it was well worth it. There was ice on the car the first night, but we had a fire, and the sun shone during the day, and so we were warm. We actually removed thermals for great parts of the day! (cf last year when most of us just spent the entire weekend in the same five layers.)

For various reasons, we needed to be close to Harrogate, and so we payed an extortionate amount of money for a field to ourselves, a long walk from some distinctly average facilities. Fortunately, our main criteria for a campsite is good scenery, good location, and to be left alone to burn stuff, so we were happy. We camped on the banks of the Nidd, in a valley below a caravan park and were disturbed only by the distant sound of snoring DofE-ers.

A steep climb down from the toilets

The kids ran around and flew kites and kicked footballs (except Nathaniel who is not into that at the minute), and collected wild garlic and drew complicated pictures and ate long and many-coursed breakfasts.

Thea and J made boats and peopled them with baby flower people who were rudely capsized into the torrent seconds after being launched!

The adults managed to sit and chat, teach Katherine the main musical themes to Jurassic Park (ill-educated woman!) and play with fires.

We climbed across stepping stones and only two of our party got a leg in.

We wandered out to Brimham Rocks which were amazing! I can't believe we've never been before!

However, future visits are likely to happen in the dead of winter because the number of people there was astronomic! Far too busy - and that's on a chilly April Saturday. I simply can't imagine what it is like in the height of summer. We picniced halfway up a rock, and played a very long game of wolf and pigs (I was a wolf who could eat any pigs not on the safety of a rock). Lots of screaming ensued!

We did lots of climbing and the narrower of us squeezed through what we are affectionately calling the sandwich gap. It was very narrow with a massive step halfway up!

Nathaniel was very pleased with himself for mastering it!

All in all it was a very good start to the camping season.

Thursday, 16 April 2015


Soon there'll be none left!

NB To date, Nathaniel has not been impressed by the tooth fairy and has declined to engage with her reward scheme. I think this is some sort of complicated savings plan.

Saturday, 11 April 2015


Annually, at this time of year, I get increasingly grumpy until I snap and demand that I am taken on a long walk in some proper countryside. Clearly a long walk was out of the question (still can't persuade him to walk......), so I excercised my giant intellect and dredged up a location with a pub and almost cyclable paths. That was acceptable to all!

So off onto the Moors we went, to Levisham where there is a fine pub in which we all ate more than we intended to and enjoyed every mouthful. And then off along the track to the moor:

It's a longer track than I remember, but that's probably because in the past we have been galloping the other way, bicycle-less, after a long walk, eager to get to the pub. But in the end we made it to the bestest bit of slope which both children declined to decent en velo, so we did instead. It seems that we can both fit onto the kids' bikes if absolutely necessary!

Then we did a good bit of clomping around Dundale Pool.

Thea climbed to the top of a giant hill, and Nathaniel and I explored a gully.

It was really blustery and cold (I felt that hats were a necessity), but very wonderful.

And then all we needed to do was to get back up the hill to the car.......

A quick trip around the Hole of Horcum and we were all ready for home.

Friday, 20 March 2015


Nathaniel has been looking forward to the partial eclipse for weeks and can give a pretty good explanation of both an eclipse and why it's only partial which ain't bad for a 6 year old.

We borrowed some kit for the occasion, and after a week of clouds, got a glimpse of the sun for a whole five minutes yesterday. Which was just long enough for a bit of a practice:

Today, he scampered downstairs early and would have been out in the garden from 7 if it hadn't been for me meanly insisting on breakfast and the fact that there was cloud cover. The fact that cloud would make the whole thing rather boring was reinforced, but didn't diminish his enthusiasm at all.

And then, as we set off to drop Thea at F's, the cloud just melted away and we were suddenly met with a clear blue sky. Bliss! Thea had understandably lost interest in the whole thing, so she pottered inside without a fuss leaving Nathaniel and I just enough time to get out the solarscope and watch first contact (when the moon first starts to obscure the sun) from F's driveway.

I was pretty excited! We watched for five minutes as the the sun was eaten up at a surprising rate, and then literally scampered to school, one eye always on the cloud gathering in the south west.

We set up again in the playground and were instantly surrounded. This is within a minute of setting up - by the time the bell rang we had half the school gathered around us!

While the kids had half an hour in class, we parents started to play. We had a whole host of watching paraphenalia. No-one had eclipse glasses, but we had white boards, carboard boards, shoe boxes, giant boxes, binoculers and lots of different paperplates. We had loads of fun and it was only the sudden reduction of light and a noticable chill to the air that reminded us to go and get the children! Then great excitement occured and everyone tried all the methods and watched as 93% of the sun was obscured by the moon in a clear sky.

Maximum Coverage

Then we tidied and the kids went back in for the rest of their "Eclipse Party". Still none the wiser about what they actually did, but there were hats and videos involved.

I wondered home and by the time I got there, there was thick cloud everywhere. We'd been in exactly the right place at the right time!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Half term

Never let it be said that I don't over project manage my kids.

Here is Nathaniel's response to the first verse of the Jabberwocky:

You may not be able to see hiding amongst the wabe, the two poisonous snakes, Gyre and Gimble. But they are there, with their "piercing eyes".

In fact, drawing has been a bit of a theme this week:

And some good old-fashioned wax-resist painting:

We've also indulged in a good lot of craft. Mainly of the kit variety:

What do you mean, you don't know what it is?!

We've hung out with friends and taken them cycling on the moor (clearly), and done more craft. This time, sewing on plates:

Of course, there has been much recreation of the BMX bandits, under 7 style!

And when they weren't on bikes, they were making fires(!):

There have been a multitude of woods. We played extensive hide and seek by the pond:

And then gathered a gang of conveniently met friends who suggested fish and chips!

We tried to go geocaching at Skipwith Common

Which would have been more successful if I hadn't left the list of caches on the kitchen table. But we had fun anyway disturbing frog spawn, climbing trees and investigating old bunkers.

We took a sunny bike ride to the shops and found ourselves an unexpected apple tree which led to some gardening:

And poor Ian has missed it all! All he has done is eat tasty pinxos in San Sebastian and go skiing. It's a hard life! Fortunately the kids have been great in his absence and seem to have finally learnt that I am not a morning person. They cheerfully get up and serve themselves breakfast while they wait for me to surface! This morning they decided to have a picnic!

Yes, it's been a good half term!

Modelling their most beloved badges: "I love maths and it's applications". (FF: bet you could get a prize from the IMA for that picture!)