Sunday, 24 April 2016


It was the sailing club open day today, so although we were at the club, we didn't get much sailing in. The kids went for a ride first thing, but then got on with other things while the adults were trying to convince punters to sign their lives away. Can you guess what they were up to?

Clearly they did have a little help, but together we created a:


Monday, 18 April 2016

Rosedale Abbey

Now, you may think that I start all posts about camping trips with "We weren't entirely sure about the weather....", but in this case it really was true!

The forecast was for 24 hours of two-raindrop (BBC levels) rain, including 3 hours of one-snowflake and 3 hours of two-snowflake snow. The temperature ranged from 0 to 8 degrees. That's pretty extreme, even for us!

But we went! How crazy are we?!

But, of course, it was fun. Yes, it started raining as we arrived at Rosedale Abbey after school on Friday and stopped the constant onslaught at about 10am the next morning. The stove in the tipi may have helped a little! The rest of Saturday was filled with snowshowers and rainshowers. So we went for a walk. We went up over the high moor and it looked like this:

Then we went down into the Goathland Valley and walked along the swollen Esk though woods and fields, and watched passing steam trains.

Sometimes it was sunny, sometimes it was hailing and sometimes it snowed. Yes, that is a 7-month old you can see being carried in a sling - I said we were mad. We had a well deserved pint and scone and chips in the over-heated pub and were all very happy.

Next day the sun was shining and we were able to take pictures of our camp next to Lake Brazier that had appeared in the we-didn't-think-it-was-that-low dip right next to us:

And Nathaniel started on his quest. All weekend he had been border-line whinging because he wanted to get onto the island in the middle of the stream that ran alongside the site.

However, the stream was so swollen that at times it looked like churned Guiness (yep - brown with white froth), or posssibly Coca-cola. And there was no way that kids were going to be allowed to wade in that. But by Sunday, I was able to wade carefully to the island without getting any water over the top of my size 8 wellies, so Nathaniel decided it was fair game.

He was almost right. He's got pretty tall wellies, and some careful measuring established that there was only about a metre that was too deep for him, and the flow was dropping rapidly. He was quite convincing that he wouldn't get washed away. So I lifted him over the high bit and put him down in the shallow bit and let him walk across, first to the other side of the stream and then accross to the island with all sorts of warnings about getting washed away. And then, because he had the tallest wellies, he was shipwrecked on the island while I took the wellies back for the next 7 year-old. 20 minutes later there were 3 shipwrecked marriners.

They search for wild animals, and D made a spear for spearing fish, but they weren't able to hunt for their supper, so we had to create system for sending over provisions.

It wasn't ideal - we were lacking length in some of our rope, but it worked. Then the younger members of our party wanted to join in, so I piggy-backed them accross, put some more provisions into the bag and abandoned them. We struck camp and it was very quiet for 45 minutes. How peaceful!

I think we'll do more shipwrecking in the future.....

Thursday, 14 April 2016


I have been somewhat mocked for my reluctance to introduce Nathaniel to Swallows and Amazons. But I can only say that it is rather nerve-wracking to introduce a child to your favourite ever book. What if he doesn't like it? How would we be able to proceed as a family?!

Fortunately, we'll never find out, because he's loved it! I have been unable to read just one chapter per evening due to being harrased for another, and to my great surprise, Thea has been just as hooked (I thought that it would move too slowly for her), and so they have been sharing bedtime stories! What a success.

But, of course, Swallows and Amazons isn't just a book - it's a way of life. When I told Nathaniel that it was this book that defined most of the interesting bits of life that he enjoys - camping all over the place, sailing on any bit of water that stays still, exploring any bit of wilderness I can find, traipsing across endless heather-clad moorland which most people see as the least interesting bit of Yorkshire - I wasn't lying! And Nathaniel has quite understood. Here is what he's done after school this week (all his ideas, needless to say):

learning how to tie a flag halyard with clove hitches and then hoisting a South Korean flag (because thats what we've got!) all over the house:

designing his own flags for us to fly from our tent and boat (the only thing that stopped him sewing them as well was my unsatisfactory selection of scrap fabric. I expect you can guess what we'll be doing next week):

and my favourite, drawing a map of an imaginary (lake-based) land that we have created:

Areas of interest; in the south, sand dunes with pyramids and scarab mounds

Volcanoes with an ancient lava bed, a prospectors' camp and their track to the quartz mines

The Snowlands mountain range, complete with Moomin-style observatory, caves, miner's camp and packhorse and canoe trails. Also visible is the log-boat route from the Great Southern Forest to the metropolis of Lakeside.

The town of Lakeside, with its marina and islands, and a river with lagoon.

There are also farms with different field-layouts and a comprehensive road system. It was definitely a joint venture - but Nathaniel had some great ideas!

Swallows and Amazons Forever!

Sunday, 10 April 2016


Sometimes a plan just comes together perfectly. For example, when you decide to go sailing, despite your boat being marooned on your driveway. Then the sun comes out (and the children, who have been dressed carefully in wind-proof thermals, boil quietly), and the wind is just the right amount to take four people in an RS Vision around the river a few times. The kids are happy, the adults are happy and the spinaker flies passably.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Easter Holidays

As ever, everyone was tired and needed a good holiday. But we still managed to fit in lots of fun.

It started with Thea's cello concert which was great fun.

Much less formal than the recorder concerts (thank goodness), and much shorter. Thea played "The Mouse in the House" and we were proud of her - playing solos when you are 4 is not a bad position to be in. She looked a little like a rabbit in headlights, but she tells us that she enjoyed herself!

There was, of course, the aforementioned Clangers workshop, but lots of fun in York as well. The pump track was well utilised, firstly just with Nathaniel and Thea who zoomed around too fast to photograph effectively:

And then with friends:

The kids did important things such as naming the hoovers and then introducing their new friends to the Pink Panther.

There was also compulsory Lost Valley of the Dinosaurs. For two days straight!

We headed down south for Scary-Aunt-Jenni's wedding and had fun taking silly photos of Jenni pretending to be snooty:

But it was really just another opportunity to play with young Ellliottt!

And two other people we rather like:

We found soft play at the reception venue and had much fun:
And there were animals....

Another day, we went into Oxford to one of my favourite places (again) and romped around the Natural History Museum examining bears, and round the Pitt Rivers searching for mice and looking at weapons! The makings of a great day.

And Granny Janni may well have continued a bit of a tradition....

It was Easter, so we did some Eastery things too. Craft (mostly unphotographed) and a lucrative egg hunt with F and co, complete with chocolate eating on a trampoline:

Yep - definitely fitted sufficient activity in!

Monday, 28 March 2016


The kids have very good taste in television. And therefore it was not a surprise to us that they have developed a love of the The Clangers, both old and new. We have a DVD of the original Oliver Postgate series and now the new Clangers is on CBBC, so there is much watching of Clangers.

It was very exciting when we heard that, as part of the Leeds Young Film Festival, there would be a Clangers animation workshop and talk. So we got up early on Monday and got the train (always exciting) to Leeds.

The workshop was fun - we made short animations using foam and pipe cleaners.

I'll upload the real version of both of their animations later on, but for the time being, here is Nathaniel's captured by my phone:

Then we popped over to the museum to make use of their cafe for lunch, and as it was raining in the way that only Leeds rain can rain, spent an enjoyable 45 minutes communing with the taxidermy exhibition. Nathaniel found an computer programme about animal classification and couldn't be torn away.

And the rain stopped so that we could go and play tig in a deserted Millenium Square.

In the afternoon we returned to the festival to hear a talk by John Ashton, one of the animators for the Clangers. We found out all about the different models and sets and how they make an episode of the Clangers. And most importantly, we got to see some of them!
The kids were most impressed by the music boat (N poddled round singing it's song under his breath).

Most exciting for me was the eggbot. You probably don't realise how excited it is possible for me about holding a real eggbot. You may need to watch this to see why I love them so.

And then Thea sang all the way home......

Wednesday, 16 March 2016


And so we count down the days to the Easter holidays, because everyone is tired and I have a cold.

But in the mean time, Thea and F are on a painting kick:

It was Ian's birthday, so we made him a cake. And jolly nice it was too.

Ian and I had a day off. So while the kids were at a friend's, making fires at their allotment, we took a trip onto the chilly moors and drove along my favourite sort of roads.

We stopped for random walks to places that might not be exciting to little people and marched in the snow (which is hard to take photos of).

And we had a pub lunch without having to fret about terrible table manners!

Then suddenly, spring arrived. And so it rapidly became time to massacre the hedge, because 14ft just isn't a sensible height!

Let's just hope that laurel grows back as well in York as it does in the Pyrenees!

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Spring in York

There's not much you can say about that!!

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Boggle Hole

A plan had been made to go to the beach, and we were prepared, whatever the weather. But we were very impressed when after driving across the Moors, the clouds parted and we were greated by this:

There was excavating and climbing on rocks.

There was collecting of shells and very important sea-tossed pebbles. I found lots of stones with mysterious holes drilled through them (made by piddocks, I now know). I took pictures through them.

And, of course, we made Andy Goldsworth-inspired art that would change over time.

Then we were joined by the others and we set up camp with a beach shelter which was crazily warm inside. Sand castles were dug and decorated, more excavations were excavated and we cremated some sausages and beans.

The tide came in quickly and we moved camp. Thea got cold and had to be warmed by the fire and hot ribena and we played with kites as the sun set behind the cliffs.

I will never get used to the sun setting in the wrong direction here. How are you supposed to deal with the sun setting inland and not over the sea?!!!!

And for no reason at all, here is Nathaniel and Thea demonstrating how snuggly their almost matching jumpers are.