Monday, 30 April 2012

Last day-Birling Gap & Eastbourne

On our very last day the sun was shining and by 9am we were in the playground where, for a solid half an hour all my children played together! Twas lovely :D
Afterwards we walked along the seafront and found lots of crab/lobster/fish remains all along the pebbles?!? Some of the pincers were HUGE!! Then the children all had ice cream-yes at 10am!-never too early apparently!! Then we drove over to National Trusts Birling Gap. I've drove past several times in the past but never gone-kicking myself now as its SPECTACULAR!! Amazing views, rockpools, white cliffs, blue sea and charcoal coloured shingle. Was such a wonderful morning. We sat and had lunch and I had a fantastic cup of tea from the cafe, much needed. Then we had an hour to poke around in the rock pools looking for crabs and anything else we could find! We even found foam-which the children said was pollution! How clever they are! I spent ages staring at the cliff edge as it was so enchanting and intricate. Then we headed back to the car to pick hubby up from work and drive 255 miles back home. We've had such a fantastic few days!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Rye Nature Reserve, Winchelsea Beach & Foxes

We were really lucky today with the weather (I here it was heavy rain at home) we had blue skies, no rain but a bit blustery! So we decided to go for another swim this morning, must make an effort to take them swimming more when we get home. I think we got into the habit of not going frequently when they were little because it would have been impossible due to how close they are in age and also with the adult to child ratio we would have had to bring an extra adult with us every time we went for a swim! Things are definitely getting easier as the children get older. After a little play in the playground we came back to the lodge and had lunch, I've realised how happy my children are when they are being fed this week. Moods sour quickly when a mealtime is delayed or a snack time is missed! Some things don't change with age then. We wrapped up and headed to Rye Nature Reserve, which as lovely as it was, was the windiest place on Earth!! We saw some wild rabbits, a Cormorant and a lot of workmen! The sea wall is being reinforced so we couldn't get down to the beach sadly. We had a lovely view of one of our favourite beaches though-Camber Sands. Will have to visit next time. We got back in the car and had a little drive down to Winchelsea Beach. It was deserted so the younger three very happily played chase with the waves-it was very sweet to watch-well until they started daring the sea to get closer! Cue the youngest too having a very wet welly, socks & jeans moment! So back to the lodge we came, dry clothes on, cup of tea for mummy and a quick game of monopoly deal. Bailey meanwhile, laid in his bed and caught up on his mobile time! He's having serious Internet/Xbox withdrawal but it's been lovely to have his attention this week and have him pretty much all to myself! Not sure how he's going to cope in a field in a tent with no wi-fi later in the year!! After we picked dad up from the office we had tea and dad put out some more dog food for the fox. We tried it Tuesday night and although we didn't see the fox, all the food went anyway. Our patience paid off tonight though when we got to see the fox cub eating all of the food wept out!!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Aquarium, Shipwreck & Fisherman's Museum

The weather was rather atrocious today so we made use of the free pool here today. We haven't been swimming for a while so it made a nice change. The girls practised their front crawl and breaststroke, I chatted to Bailey and sat in the smaller section with Ruben. He isn't very keen on water, he never has been even when he was little funny that Bailey isn't much of a swim fan either. The girls however are quite the opposite! Cordelia brought her goggles and had lots of fun going under the water. Piper was happy to swim back and forth, I even managed a few lengths myself whilst Bailey played with Ruben. We came back to the lodge and had some lunch before venturing out into the rain to visit Hastings Blue Reef Aquarium. Ruben asked only on Friday if we could visit an aquarium do he was very pleased yesterday when I told him our plans for today! I think because we are so lucky to have The Deep nearby it's hard not to compare every other aquarium to it! Seaside aquariums can be a bit of a letdown but we were lucky enough to have a very knowledgeable and passionate staff member chat to us and answer so many of our questions so felt very fortunate really!! Firstly she let the children stroke a python she was holding, they were very impressed, not do much bailey and I who just watched! Piper, cordelia and Ruben said it was very smooth & were told it was because it had only shed it's skin two weeks ago. The same member of staff talked us through feeding the Giant Pacific Octopus called Sherlock because of his high intelligence. I think the chat with her was worth all our entrance fee alone to be honest! She talked to us for nearly half an hour and told us about how Sherlock play fights with the two men who work there but won't with her, he prefers to hold her hand and be tickled! She did say he was squirted her in the face though! Apparently they are as intelligent as a labrodour dog. Their not very good swimmers though and fill their heads with water to propel themselves across the water!! Very cool fact. We also found out: male octopus grow up to 3 metres, females up to 4 metres (there is an octopus in the US that has grown up to 8 metres, they are experimenting with the water temperature, lighting and diet of the octopus to see how big it can actually grow!). They change colour when they eat and get "horns" on their head, they don't look like horns more like feathers though. They have 300 suckers on each tentacle, some as small as 2mm! After our chat she told the children to wave at the stingrays in another section because sometimes they wave back. Cue all of us stood waving at stingrays amongst some very bemused French exchange students! They were all doing it once they saw the stingray wave back at us though!!
After the aquarium we went across to the Shipwreck Museum. It was only small but very informative, there was even a small dinosaur section as dinosaur footprints have been found on the nearby coast. Then we had a walk along the seafront, the waves were super high and the spray hit us from way up the beach! We had a walk around the shops, the children couldn't resist the old fashioned sweet shops. As we walked back to the car we popped quickly into the Fisherman's museum. They had a bought inside!! We had a climb up, it's perfect for me as I get VERY sea sick so this was a good way of taking the children on to a boat without taking them out to sea. We were lucky to miss a mega shower whilst in here too! Back at the lodge and time to write on postcards whilst mummy has a coffee & a rest!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Bexhill, Hastings Museum & Rye

We had a much more productive day today despite our early start-the girls were awake and knitting at 4.30am!!! After hubby explained that it was WAY too early to be awake we got up at a more reasonable 6.30 am. We needed to set off early to drop hubby at work before 9, so we made the most of our early start and had a drizzly walk along Bexhill sea front, home to the very modern De La Warr Pavillion. The children were desperate to walk on the beach and set to work collecting stuff-shells, clams, mussels, seaweed and what the children thought was a mermaids purse but has turned out to be possibly a piece of cuttlefish-we're still not sure! Either way the younger two enjoyed their treasure hunting, meanwhile Bailey was very chatty and Piper enjoyed sloshing her wellies through the shingle! Everyone was happy.
A trip to the supermarket to stock up the fridge and a game of Monopoly back at the lodge. I cooked pizza for lunch and then we set off to Hastings Museum. Only a small museum but it had some interesting exhibitions and we spent a rather lovely half an hour reading stories like Handa's Surprise and being served Japanese food! As the sun was out and the rain off somewhere else we had a drive into Rye. We really like it in Rye. We had a lovely walk around looking at all the independent and vintage shops, the children found a playground to burn off some energy and had lots of laughs. Not sure how pleased the rest of the playground felt about listening to my children's very loud screams but there you go! On the way back to the car we bought some postcards for them to send to friends and I found a street that I'd dreamed about a few months ago! It was really bugging me where it was as I couldn't place it but had a feeling it was Rye. Bizarre to have been somewhere several times that hubby never has! Ruben has spent the last two days solidly listening to Roald Dahl stories on an old portable cd player. He has been laughing his head of at "James and the Giant Peach" all day today, although he calls it "George and the Giant Peach" for some reason. Inspiring lots of conversations today about which is our favourite Roald Dahl story: Cordelia said Esio Trot, Piper said Matilda and I always liked Danny the Champion of the World and The Twits.

First day in Hastings!

Well to be honest after the five hour drive down to Hastings there really wasn't much to do except buy some food and check into our lodge home for the week. After tea though we did have a lovely, if not very muddy, walk and saw the sea!! It's the first time in nearly a year I've seen it and OH how I've missed it. I think I'm a secret sea-baby. On the walk back we were lucky enough to see a family of foxes and two badges!! This is the first time any of us have seen badges in the wild so it was very cool! The lodge is lovely and despite the very British weather I'm looking forward to some serious relaxing, walking and eating and not necessarily in that order!!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Building Dens in the Rain

We started the day quite early, early for me anyway. Hubby left at 5.30 for a day full of meetings in London so I was up at 7.30 to do breakfast, I'm REALLY, not a morning person at all. Hubby does breakfast usually and I get woken up with a cup of tea about 8am. I know, I'm a very lucky lady ;-) It hasn't always been this way though, when the children were little I spent a lot of mornings up at 5.30am and through the night feeding etc but as the children get older and so do I, I need more sleep! As all five of us were up we had some really good conversations over breakfast. First we talked about bats and their hearing, which was because Ruben was playing with a bat action figure, and that related back to last week's Bang Goes the Theory, which was all about how the younger you are the higher pitches you can hear. Then, as we were looking through Cordelia's new Monster High fashion designer book we got talking about colour wheels and primary colours. We discussed it recently on our trip to Hardwick Walk as we were questioning why bluebells were called bluebells, when they looked more purple than blue (we compared them to Cordelia's blue wellyboot!) and that lead on to primary colours etc. Then we discussed Nutella and where it comes from. I asked the children where they thought it came from, it was a mix up of answers between France (where we first tasted it in 2007) and America. They were quite surprised to find out it was actually Italy! I only learnt that too from the Hairy Bikers Bakeation programme last night but I thought it was interesting! Last night I made very last minute plans to meet our friends over at lighting fires for a walk this morning. I wasn't feeling well yesterday and really can't do more than one full day indoors, so thought some fresh air would be good. The weather was pretty horrific and so were the driving conditions but I took some snacks and kitted everyone out in waterproofs and we headed out, leaving Bailey to get on with a mock paper. His exam is now only a few weeks away, eeekkk!! We were a bit late but got there in the end, the rain was still really heavy but after reading this article on the BBC and the National Trusts list of play musts-one of which being run around in the rain! I feel we need to make sure we have done all the things on the list! We've actually done a lot of things already on the list but still....

We had a lot of fun. Laughs. And got drenched.

Back home, dry clothes and lunch. I had time to go over Bailey's mock paper with him. He's struggling a little and I'd rather him wait a little longer before taking the exam, (a whole other story really) but he is determined to at least try so I'm letting him make his own mind up. Just letting him know that there is certainly no pressure from us if he decides against taking the exam yet, we love him loads either way! I managed to start my dining table refurbishment, read one of my favourite Dr Seuss books to Ruben before bed-Green Eggs and Ham and watched an interesting programme called Food, (here is the iplayer  link if your interested) with the girls before bed. Its now making me crave fresh Kent Cherries, we ate lots of them last year when we went to Sussex, and try a "cobnut".....

Cordelia is 10!

The good thing about having the birthday party before/after the actual birthday is that you can concentrate more on the birthday girl! We were all a bit shattered though from the party the day before so we had a rather lovely chilled out day. Cordelia was up at 6.30am to eagerly open her presents. Because of the party yesterday she had lots to open, lucky girl! The main theme of this year's birthday was Monster High. The girls collection started at Christmas and has been steadily increasing. Cordelia now owns 8 dolls, Piper has 4 and even Ruben has a boy Monster High Doll. 
 After a breakfast of scrambled eggs on bagels. Cordelia no longer eats red meat and I'm vegetarian so daddy, Bailey, Piper and Ruben tucked into bacon bagels!
 We then went shopping to toys r us to buy more monster high stuff. Daddy cooked us all a curry for tea-yummy! And then we sang Happy Birthday. Plus side of making a 3 tier birthday cake for the party-we used the top tier for her actual birthday!
 Meet the Monster HIgh dolls: Left to Right: Lagoona Blue, Frankie Stein, Cleo de Nile, Abby Bominable, Special "Black & White" Frankie Stein
 Clawde Wolf, Operetta and Clawdeen Wolf
 Frankie Stein's bed!
 And Cleo De Nile's dressing table
For the last few days our house has been a huge game of Monster High mixed in with the new Sims game she also got for her birthday! She had some fantastic presents and its lovely how well her friends know her because all her gifts were a perfect fit!

I can't quite believe my youngest daughter is now in double digits! Cordelia- you are such a special girl, you are funny, kind, caring, so very clever, so intuitive, a lovely friend, strong, thoughtful and we are so fortunate to have you in our lives. You brighten up gloomy days with your infectious giggle and your ability to keep us all entertained and informed, whether that be about animal extinction, nail varnish or your favourite book. You can be such a loving big and little sister and you have us all right in the palm of your hand. Love you lots Boo! Mummy xxxxxx

Alice in Wonderland Tea Party

For Cordelia's tenth birthday we planned an Alice in Wonderland Tea Party, I've always wanted to do one so I was very excited that it was what Cordelia wanted. Over the last few weeks we have spent a lot of time gathering things together for the party and fortunately as I collect china teacups and saucers that made things easier! Cordelia made tea cup invitations and invited her friends so we had 15 children altogether, just enough for the house to cope with I think! We had thought about playing some games outside but the weather was not looking as good as it was for last year's party sadly so we planned indoor games. I made my own bunting that read "Happy Birthday" from material scraps, Cordelia painted these clock faces out of cardboard and we hung them around. We had arrows saying "This Way" and "Up" etc and put them in different spots around the walls. Across the room we hung string with folded paper doilies across them-they looked a little 1940's, so I was rather pleased with them! I made "Eat Me" signs from patterned paper and cocktail sticks and "Drink Me" signs from textured card and tied them on to the teacups with 3mm ribbon.

  As the guests arrived they were given a chocolate to eat in the hallway by hubby, then they followed the white rabbits footprints before they "shrunk" to fit through the doorway hubby had created. (He's very clever!). Cordelia, Piper, Ruben and I were all waiting in the room for everyone to arrive.

 We had put "fancy dress" as optional because I didn't want anyone to feel pressured into buying/making fancy costumes. Cordelia was dressed in an Alice costume and her friend also came as Alice, we had a fabulously dressed Mad Hatter guest too!! When everyone had arrived I gave them all a pen and a sticker to write their names on backwards, we were supposed to say them for the whole party but forgot!

The first game we played was musical playing cards-basically you play music and dance and when the music stops you have to jump on one of the A4 size playing cards laying on the floor. After each turn a card or two gets taken away and if you don't get to stand on one your out-or off with your head! The winner was allowed to pick a prize from the prize tree. We had gone for a walk in the woods last weekend to pick some suitable branches for this, hubby then planted them into two pots and we put toadstool sweets, heart sweets and marshmallows into cellophane bags and hung them off the branches with brightly coloured wool The second game we played was pass the mad-hatters hat charades. Hubby had thought of some rather random charade actions, but if nothing else it was entertaining for the parents and challenging for the children-a dragon eating a banana was my personal favourite! 

Then it was time for some afternoon tea, I had baked a selection of cupcakes and jam tarts, and there were scones, pink wafers and pink lemonade too. I tried to go for a brightly coloured cake but I'm not fantastic with fondant icing so I think I'm going back to butter cream icing for future parties! After the guests had eaten some food, we played a game of "Who am I?" the Disney version which proved very funny!

 Singing Happy Birthday to Cordelia!

Then the children went off and played together, coming back occasionally for more snacks! When it was time to go the children were given a small box (Lakeland) filled with chocolate eggs, we attached name tags on with ribbon and a tiny key charm (which I bought from Ebay!) and home made white chocolate rabbit lollipops wrapped in cellophane bags and tied with pretty ribbons.
 Cordelia had a fabulous time and hope everyone else enjoyed it too! Thank you to all those who came!