Sunday, 30 September 2012

Building Lego Bridges

Lego has always been number one toy here, ever since Bailey was little we've had Lego in the house so the younger three are extremely fortunate to have inherited most of Bailey's collection. They've added to it themselves but its mainly Bailey's lego. I had a sort around and re-organised our lego recently and it seems to have triggered the children's imagination. There has been a lot of lego building in our house again. Ruben asked me to take photo's of his most recent build... a lego car and a bridge....

He was very proud of himself!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Great British Bake Off!

I am a huge fan of the BBC's Great British Bake Off but this year the children have really gotten into it too. Since we spent a week feeling unwell with flu, coughs and colds we snuggled up on the sofa together and watched lots of yummy food being made on the Iplayer. When I saw on the library catalogue that our local library had the book in stock the girls and I jumped into the car and went and loaned it out. We poured over the pages making lists of what we wanted to bake and who we want to win! I really wanted to try Madeleine's but found it impossible to find a metal tray, I'm not a huge fan of silicone ones, so ended up ordering one of Ebay and impatiently waiting for it to come. These are a few things we've made in the last week, not all GBBO recipes, we watched Nigella's new BBC show too this week and I just HAD to try the Nutella Cheesecake....

Ruben helped scatter the almonds on the Madeleine's

 I slightly overbaked them but it was my first ever attempt! They were still very yummy..
 Ruben filled in a page of his Moshi Monster book whilst we waited for them to come out of the oven
Cordelia and I made these yummy chocolate tarts, divine!! They were a recipe from Kirsty Allsop's Channel 4 programme and quite easy to make.
 We added our own white chocolate curls on top!
Nigella's Chocolate Hazlenut Cheesecake....EPIC

To complete our week of yummy bakes I made my newly engaged little sister a cake for a family party. I've never tried roses before but was really impressed by how they turned out. I just made a victoria sponge underneath. 

I want to try this again but with chocolate on a chocolate sponge, NOT that we are obsessed with chocolate at all in this house..........

Off to look at what to bake next.......

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Geology & Thing-searching at the beach

Our last day in Sussex and it always seems to be spent on this beach at Birling Gap! I'm not complaining because it has become one of our favourite spots and we were lucky to have it all to ourselves. The tide was in so no rock pools for us to explore so we did some geology instead, lots of smash rocks open to see what was inside..

 We found lots of big chunks of chalk that had fell from the cliffs, its quite soft and easy to break up, we brought some home with us for when our new chalkboard arrives.
Inspired by our favourite book character "Miss Pippi Longstocking" we went on our very own thing-search!! The sea had washed up several interesting things...first up was this flag
 and this plastic tub which had been washed up from Cornwall by the looks of it and it had a few interesting passengers inside, think they might be mussels?
 There were quite a few inside the box

 Then time for a little reading, the girls love these books "How to be the best at everything" and this one is a firm favourite The Family Book Amazing Things to do Together. I can't think of a better spot for reading, although reading "The Jungle Book" to the children in Rudyard Kipling's garden was pretty epic....
Inspired we had a family spelling test at the children's request with some Starburst as prizes. Piper did extremely well which I'm putting down to the amount of time she spends reading! As spelling tests are not something we do regular here at the Barras Home-School of Excellence!!

A lovely last day in our second home Sussex, thank goodness hubby can drive though as he ended up driving us all the way back home as I started with the flu!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Camber Sands & Wakehurst Place Visit 2!

First day back at work for hubby after a two week break, felt a bit teary dropping him off at the office, be great if he could be HE with us all the time. The children decided they wanted to go to Camber Sands for the day, it was much cooler than the weekend and extremely blustery but we still spent four hours sat on top of the sand dunes, well I sat and the children all played a huge game of Minecraft. Thankfully there were lots of things around for them to "mine". They only came back to me for food or drinks. It takes a lot of getting used to having older children, when they were little I'd spend all my time on the beach building sandcastles with them, collecting shells, paddling, drying feet now they prefer to do their own thing. I have mixed emotions about it, in a way its nice to be able to just sit and think and in another way its a little sad that I'm not so "required" any more. I know that its different kinds of requirement that is needed from me now but its a lot of adjustment! Only took this one photo on the beach sadly, which is a shame as they were rolling down sand dunes and all sorts, but I didn't want to interrupt their fun so I just let them be.
Tuesday morning was dry again, we were so lucky with the weather this camping trip, so we headed to Wakehurst Place again. We visited in July and had a really lovely walk but didn't get to see all of it so we tried to visit the spots we'd missed last time and as we are NT members and the schools are back our visit didn't cost anything! I was a bit annoyed at the entrance when the lady on the desk asked if I'd booked in advance, she took all my details for some reason-no idea what she was going to do with them. Never had this from a visit with my HE membership but she said I'm supposed too. Now I understand if I was bringing a school group in but there were only 5 of us!! Silly rule I think that should only apply to school education groups and not home educating families!

 Not sure if that's a headlock or a hug but still......
 After a few days of camping Bailey starts to really enjoy it, it can be hard with teenagers, especially with Asperger's because they really love their routines and it can be hard adjusting to doing something different and being away from his beloved Xbox. Its lovely to see how well the children can get along when there isn't the distractions of TV, computers, cats, dogs etc, Cordelia and Bailey talked for ages about Pokemon. Piper had a quiet start and wondered by herself ahead of us, she is very much like me in that she thinks such a lot. The girls are so different, I can read Cordelia like a book, her emotions are always very clear on her face and I can tell instantly when she is unhappy about something or when she is very happy about something but Piper can be very hard to read. Maybe some of it is because of her age of 11 and 3/4 she is very close to becoming a teenager, I know we will be approaching an age where it can be difficult to have a good relationship with your mum. I know I struggled with my mum as a teenager but I'm hoping things will be different for Piper and I. I think not being at school will have a big impact on our relationship, and obviously the fact that Piper's childhood has been very different to mine. Its a worry but I think if I'm aware of it then I can make sure or at least try my best and make sure we are still close and that she can talk to me. Its hard to not worry when she is so quite but I gave her some space and she came around in her time. I asked if she was OK and she said she was just thinking.

 The rest of the afternoon went much easier, we spotted lots of signs of the approaching Autumn weather like this tree that was starting to turn and was a beautiful colour.
 We sat in the sun and watched two pheasants having a fight for a good 20 minutes! Then they kept following us about until they got bored and wondered off (the pheasants not the children!)
 Ruben found himself a fab chair to sit in....
 We had a walk around the vegetable garden and found these very cute pumpkins, the sign insisted that these were courgette plants but I'm pretty sure they are pumpkins!!
 A very slow wander back up to the car and a look in the gift shop. We bought 3 cacti plants to take home as the children really loved the cacti area in the seed bank, this way we have our own little bit of Kew Gardens at home!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Last Day in London & Mummy's birthday

Our last day in London and my birthday! Again we were blessed with incredibly good weather so we spent most of the day in Hyde Park. We bought lots of food and plenty to drink and had several mini picnics around the park. We had a paddle in the Princess Diana Memorial, which was incredibly busy and then we walked up through to the Italian Gardens. 
We walked right up to Kensington Gardens to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground but when we arrived there it was incredibly busy and one look in the playground and at the queue to get in and the children decided they would rather just sit outside. So we sat and watched all the runners, cyclists, skateboards and roller blading people coming and going instead, and I looked out for all the expensive prams (I love prams despite no longer needing one I still love spotting the very expensive ones!). As we came out of Kensington Gardens we saw the palace (but I didn't get a photo!) and this magnificent memorial to Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband. Piper told us all about how Queen Victoria mourned Prince Albert and wore only black and hardly went out for 7 years unless it was to open a memorial for him. She is a fountain of knowledge, usually when we least expect it. I suppose it all comes from the amount of books she literally devours on a daily basis. She has always been very fond of History, especially the Victorian period.
Opposite was the Royal Albert Hall, I've never seen this before so it was a day of first times for me and the children. Hubby spends quite a lot of his working time in London so he was like our very own tour guide!
This is the view from the other side, its a very aesthetically pleasing building, which I love.
As we walked down past the Royal College of Music we could here piano's, trumpets and violins all playing, a very magical sound from such an old, historic and beautiful building. We walked until we came to the Science Museum. As we were all getting a little weary from the heat we sought some solace in their air conditioning! Despite being weary when we went in the children found lots of energy to run around in the discovery area and tried lots of the different experiments there. Ruben built a bridge, which he made daddy test.
Bailey found some interactive video games (you can take the boy away for the Xbox...)
Piper enjoyed playing games on the PC too

Whilst Cordelia drew an invention for the inventor's wall, I took a photo but it didn't come out very well at all. We had a slow walk back to Victoria Station and no one really wanted to leave, we had such a fantastic 3 days in London and have decided to try and do it at least once a year. But I'm kind of thinking maybe Paris in September next year.........

Saturday, 8 September 2012

London Museums

The second day in London, which was even hotter than the day before!, and we walked from Victoria station through Belgravia and onto Kensington to the Natural History Museum. Its about a 2 mile walk, so not the fastest but I really, really hate the tube and London was so busy anyway with the para olympics and the weather was SO nice it seemed a shame to be trapped in a tiny metal tin, underground with lots of other people. So we walked. As my favourite sport is people watching and hubby is the same, we both love drinking in the ambience and atmosphere of London, especially a bit more of the main areas. Maybe the writer in me is inspired to look into all the people passing me as I can't help but wondering what their lives are like, what their thinking and feeling. Could all be very useful stuff one day..

Anyway, approaching one of my favourite buildings in London I was surprised it was only a small queue, but we sat in the grounds and had an early picnic lunch first. Ruben wanted to see the dinosaurs, when we first brought him here he was 4 years old and dinosaur crazy. When we got round to the big T-Rex he was so terrified and hid behind my legs! Not today, he knew it was coming and was very unaffected. I didn't take any photos of him with the dinosaurs as it was so busy and I have so many photos of him with dinosaurs. 

I did take this one of Ruben under the diplodocus in the entrance but its so big I managed to cut its head out of the photo!
 Cordelia wanted to see the animals, in particular the horses, as she is horse-crazy! Its amazing to see how tiny the very first horses that existed were compared to modern day horses. And also how they are related to rhino's and tapir's! I love the view from this balcony.....

After the NHM we crossed over the road to a museum we haven't been into before-the Victoria & Albert Museum. I've wanted to go for ages and it really didn't disappoint-WOW. Piper and I loved the fashion area. The Raphael Cartoons were, well IMMENSE is all I can really say. I particularly liked the Renaissance Sculptures, and it has made me feel very excited about our holiday to Italy next year!

Its just HUGE inside!
 These columns were HUGE

 Ruben hit a bit of a meltdown point, my children aren't made for heat + lots of walking and it was the 2nd day in a row of walking around London.

 So we perked everyone up with a break, would you believe this amazing square exists in the middle of a busy London museum????

It was like being back at the Roman Baths, only we could paddle this time! We all sat with our feet in the cool water, the girls and Ruben had a walk round the water. After a coffee (me) and cold drinks we were all feeling much perkier.

Which was good since the girls and I discovered the jewellery room....Oh My Word it was MEGA!!! I found at least 3 tiaras that I'd like....No photos allowed sadly.

We left behind the V & A, but a definite "got to come back again soon". And headed to Harrods, I thought the toy area might be a bit of a let down compared to yesterday Hamleys Top Shop visit. But as we walked in Ruben said "Mom, pinch me, I think I'm in a dream". Funny boy. Children headed off in different directions again. Cordelia chose a rather beautiful wooden rocking horse with a £4999 price tag, ouch! Piper immersed herself in the dolls houses section, and Bailey found a great TV for his room, s nip at only £66,000!!!!!!!!

Down the escalators and we saw the sign for the Christmas shop-who could resist a Christmas shop on September the 8th, only two hours after paddling in 30 degree heat-not us!

Friday, 7 September 2012

London calling

Gosh its been a LONG while since we went into London, actually it was 4 years ago!! Meaning the last time I brought the children they were aged 10, 7, 6 and 4, gosh that was so long ago. I will have to find a photo of them the last time we came... I am always looking for ways to get into London as cheap as possible which isn't that easy with 6 of us. So we bought a Friends and Family Railcard for £28, we drove to Hayward's Heath Train Station and caught the train into Victoria. It meant it cost us just under £20, which is pretty good value as it costs me nearly £12 at home to go into town! It was a very pleasant 45 minutes into London and so much easier now the children are a little bigger. The children really just wanted to sightsee today, Ruben wanted to see Big Ben, the girls wanted to see Buckingham Palace and Bailey was just very happy to soak up the ambience of London.
 We just missed the changing of guard by a few minutes so it was very busy around the palace. We even saw some para-olympians from the Japanese and Russia teams but were too slow to get a photo!
 Everything looked so clean and sparkly, London has obviously taken great pride in being the Olympic host city and it looked better than ever.
 We kept spotting the Olympic Mascots around the city
I asked the children to stand in front of this because I figure one day they will be able to tell/show their own children that they went to London during the para Olympics, which I think is pretty cool :-)
 Being patriotic in Trafalgar Square
 Standing next to the Olympic Clock
 Hubby just had to take a photo of the children with these horses, we had to practically drag Cordelia away!
 Cordelia and Ruben loved this mime artist, he was so good I actually thought he was a statue when we walked past him, maybe even a Banksy....maybe I need some new glasses
We took the children to Hamleys, they were SO excited. Ruben rushed off to find Moshi Monster figures, his new favourite thing, whilst the girls and I dived straight into the Monster High Dolls section! Here is Piper with Frankie Stein and Draculaura 
 And Cordelia with Toralei
The children loved the Lego section, another phase we are going through thanks to the new Lego store opening in Sheffield. He wanted his picture taken with all the Lego models
 He has a few Lego Ninjago figures at home so loved this one
The Iconic red phone box-in LEGO! With the Queen chatting on the phone inside
 Then on to Leicester Square to visit M & M world-which to be fair was more me than the children, peanut m & m's are my absolute favourite! Never realised they were was so popular....
 four whole floors of m & m merchandise, we settled for a pick n mix of m & m's. The silver were my favourite, yum!
 Even a special machine to tell which is your favourite colour m & m! Ruben was white
 Cordelia was white (think she was slightly annoyed to be the same colour as Ruben!)
 and Piper was light blue!
 Gold, silver and bronze medals hanging in Leicester Square, where we had a lovely rest in the shade and watched the fountain before heading off for more sightseeing!
 Big Ben!!
 River Thames and the London Eye, we were so lucky with beautiful weather
 I'm really not sure you could find a better spot for a carousel then under the shadow of the London Eye!

 As we walked back to the train station after 7 hours of walking around London we spotted this beautiful statue in the grounds of Westminster Abbey, Cordelia loved it and Ruben took this photo of her