Are you bored of pictures of our kitchen? Now for something completely different.
Over Christmas we reminisced with James and Beth how much fun we had when we went camping in Derbyshire, and were sad that camping was so very far off in the distance. So we booked a cottage, and off we went to Shropshire!
After many days on the internet, we decided on the vicinity of Church Stretton in "Little Switzerland", home of hills and moorland. Our rather fine cottage was at the foot of Caer Caradoc:
On Sunday we set off up Long Mynd:
We walked up a steep-sided valley with a marvellously chuckling stream ("That stream is happy, Mummy!"), and found an unfeasibly steep slope on which to eat our lunch.
When we got to the top, we found ourselves in heavily folded moorland.
Though some of us didn't find the scenery too riveting!
We made the obligatory trip to the highest point to see the view. It was hazy, but beautiful, though not easy to photograph.
We almost lost our way along the many footpaths that appear in open access land, but trusted our instincts (the compass was buried at the bottom of the rucksack!), and were rewarded with a narrow gorge with another great stream and an un-photographed waterfall.
There was tea and cake, a bit of map chewing and a very furry caterpillar.
We finished with, ironically, the steepest climb of the whole walk, but it was generally regarded to be lots of fun!
On Monday, it was sunny and so we were incredibly active (can you see how much cake is on that table?), and wandered into Ludlow for some exploring, castling and lunch eating.
We were refreshed by Tuesday and ready to climb Caer Caradoc in the sun.
We stopped for refreshments 7/8s of the way up and to admire the view.
And the little boy walked the last bit himself!
Does anyone else see the spitting image of Ian here?
In the last week, Nathaniel has become very interested in creating "life-size" vehicles in the living room. Unlike previous vehicle-building activities, the important aspect of the game is now adding specific elements to the vehicle rather than "playing" the game. Previously we would "build" a train and then spend half an hour arriving at the station, getting passengers on, driving off, fixing the broken train and filling it up with petrol. Now, the actual diving is a 5 minute game at the end, but first we have to scour the house for all the important elements that make up the vehicle.
Here we have a truck:
It has a steering wheel, wheels on either side (cushions), bricks in the back, and a CD player so that the driver doesn't get bored on long journeys. Ian is non-descript cargo.
This (note how it is totally different!!!), is a tractor:
It's key features are small wheels (2) at the front (stickle-bricks), large wheels at the back (tiger feet), a steering wheel, and a sheep (Ian) in the trailer. What, you didn't identify the animal from the face it's pulling?!!
There is also a train, which has no steering wheel, but has two different levers, a funnel, two carriages and passengers.
All are made up of a stool and two chairs, but the exact arrangement of the furniture is key. Woe betide the parent who puts them in the wrong place - "No Dadddy - that's a truck. Making a tractor now!".
Last year, we took charge of the Steiner toddler group bulding blocks over the summer holidays. They were kept with our toys and were played with all the time to make bales of hay, sheds, churches and all other important items. Differently to most sets of building blocks, the toddler group ones are made out of oiled hard-wood and are random shapes. They are harder to use if you want to build a standard tower, but great if in fact you are trying to build a realistic gothic cathedral (which we often are!).
I had a good look around the internet before Nathaniel's birthday for some similar blocks, but unsurprisingly, they were few and far between and rather expensive.
So when the builders left us a great pile of off-cuts from the roof (intended for someone's wood burner), we were rather pleased. It may be soft wood, but there are some pretty brilliant shapes, and let's face it, I was never going to get around to identifying, buying, cutting and sanding wood.
Over the weekend, I got together with the sander (if I was a true Steiner parent, Nathaniel and I would have done this together, by hand, over many winter afternoons - but neither of us have that patience at the minute!), and finished off a pile of "windmill pieces" (so that's what we are going to be using them for!).
Today was properly spring. It was the sailing club clearing day (or stand-around-and-gossip day, as it is better known), so we bundled up in our waterproofs and wellies and headed down to the river.
We endulged in all the standard activities - scraping mud off the boat park, clearing the jetties of several inches of silt, and carrying boats out of the club house. Nathaniel enjoyed the festivities last year, but this year he was in his element! He got involved with everything.
His sweeping was done with an adult-sized broom and was attacked with gusto. He took direction from several club members, and Dorothea even managed to get him to sweep forwards into the pile rather than concentrating on getting an even spread of mud across the whole dingy park!
He took on the role of hose carrier for the slipway clearing and gamely washed mud out of the way, pausing only to put on gloves. This is totally unheard of! Typically, he will not wear gloves in any situation, and when his hands are so cold that he loses all coordination, demands to go home!
He spent some time learning to use pedals on the trike that Neville had brought down to the club last year. This year, Nathaniel's feet reach the pedals!
After watching a bonfire, and having lunch with friends, we came home and attacked our garden. Nathaniel did more sweeping and helped Ian put the prunings into the green bin.