Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Wentworth Castle Gardens

Blogger tells me this is my 900th post, which is pretty cool :)

Toddler Tuesday today so I bought a family ticket to Wentworth Castle Gardens as its near where my sister lives so handy for picking our niece up and dropping her off. Its also a really good excuse to get the girls and Ruben outdoors-no mean feat these days!

We arrived to lots of mist, but actually it looked really atmospheric which went quite well with the toddler tantrums my niece was having! It so takes me back to Cordelia being that age, her and Bella are so alike in lots of ways.

Thankfully we distracted her with some sticks, trees and small hills to run up and down again. Hubby took these photos whilst I was dealing with a tantrum...

Its called Lady Lucy's Walk and is a really beautiful part of the gardens.

Lots of beautiful flowers outside the house, its now used as a college so you can't actually go into the house.

Round the side of the house:

Ruben found a couple of different types of fungus growing on this tree, he and hubby tried to look for owl pelets since it seemed like a good spot for an owl to sit:

The "castle" its right at the back of the gardens and is actually a garden folly built by Mr Wentworth for his children to play in. Pretty epic back garden!

Ruben and I decided to climb all the way to the top, we noticed at the bottom of the stairs the handrail looked like a dragon's tail (wish I'd got a photograph)

And we found the dragon at the top! It was a pretty cool dragon and it would have been a pretty cool view up there if it wasn't for all the mist. Ruben doesn't normally like heights so I was really impressed he made it all the way up. 

Back down the twirly stairs and our niece was looking for us so we pretended to be in jail, she was quite upset not to be able to get to us through the bars so we had to come round and see her.

Lunch in the folly, including a flask of hot tea-its definitely Autumn again :) before a bit more walking in the gardens, a tree to climb and a play in the playground. They have a lovely play area here and we were the only ones in it!

Beautiful flowers (and children) in the conservatory which has been restored since we last visited.

Back home for home made pizza's, skype, wii play for Ruben-he was happy his new nunchuk had arrived and meant he could get past a part of a game he'd been stuck on for a while. Our youngest cat Bibby had kindly decided to kill a rather large wooden pigeon on the front garden so we arrived home to lots of feathers and a rather grotesque looking scene-thanks cat! The girls have been watching Anime.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Fiery Monday's

A slow start in the Pesky Hobbits household, for some of us anyway! Hubby and I decided a whole bedroom move around was required in our room so we started early enough so Bailey was around before college to help with the moving of furniture. My back is really bad at the moment so I'm not that capable of moving anything too heavy. Result is one really nice space in our room :)

After the excitement of furniture moving, Bailey headed off to college and we five ended up all sat around the kitchen table doing different things. Hubby and Ruben playing Yu-Gi-Oh cards, Cordelia finishing another Attack on Titan picture she started last night, 

I caught up on emails and Piper did some IGCSE English. The last one didn't go so well, so we changed and did some cursive writing/letter writing practice. Piper is struggling to see the point in letter writing by hand when she can just use a keyboard. So rather than letting it put a downer on the rest of the day, her and I made pancakes instead! Mondays are just a bit too much for some of us some weeks. Ruben meanwhile decided to have a go at making a small comic based on the game he is currently playing online with friends called Terraria. He started with 30 pages but I talked him more realistically into just starting with 4 and seeing how you get on. He's started a story on the front of page one today before lunch.

After lunch the girls hung out upstairs, giggling and drawing together. Cordelia managed to get her swords finished off from yesterday by adding the dry brushing/shading details. 

They look really good. Piper is enjoying experimenting with the new pastel coloured sharpie pens she bought from Meadowhall yesterday, they are really lovely colours. Ruben played online with friends. I managed some yoga which my back is really not happy about right now and then we had tea outside over a fire. Hot dogs and jacket potatoes-getting into that Autumnal spirit ready for bonfire night. There has been lots of talk about halloween costumes and what we could/should do for the upcoming holiday, which for our children is just as exciting, if not more so, as Christmas!

Cordelia and I read a story in the Guardian today about the ban on young climbers up on Everest. I took her for some 1:1 time last week to watch the Everest film, it was a really amazing film but pretty sad. We keep seeing lots of connections and have had some great chats about Everest this past week. We didn't realise until reading today's article that the youngest person to climb Everest was only 13 years old!!! There's actually been two 13 year olds at the summit which is amazing. Thankfully Cordelia has no such desire to climb the summit of Everest.

And that winds up Monday at the Hobbit Hole :)

University Open Days-what happens after Home Education?

This weekend we had a huge #proudparentmoment when we took Bailey along to his first university Open Day. It was a bit surreal if I'm honest, I haven't been to University and neither has hubby so we were both intrigued to see what happens at these open days. Bailey had chosen Derby University, whilst not that close to us, is still commutable-although that will require him to learn to drive eeeek!!! 

Overall we were really impressed with the course and tutors, Bailey liked the look and feel of the campus. The course covers 3-D animation which he is really interested in and is very art based. Listening to the talk that was given made me think it is something that Cordelia would really enjoy. 

Bailey made notes/listed questions on the journey there to ask and the tutor kindly spent time answering all of his queries and even suggesting that he might be able to skip ahead to Year 2 of the degree as the college course he is doing now covers a lot of what would be on Year 1. That is useful to know. They also have a placement year at Derby which is something high on his list, not all university courses in Games Design offer the year placement between years 3 and 4. From the talk given by the head of the Engineering/Computing/Games Design section the placement year makes a real difference and also helps job prospects. Bailey is really excited about the possibility of the placement year, he could even be working abroad...

I don't really have many photos but I did take this one of the entrance hall, which I thought was pretty cool. One of the staff members showed me around the different display's of Derby students. One that looked instantly familiar was that of Paul Cummins-he was the artist behind the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red Poppy Installation at the Tower of London. Which we had only seen two weeks before at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I hadn't realised he was from Chesterfield and did his degree at Derby University. He had kindly loaned the university this metal/ceramic creation from his studio.

There was also a successful Lego designer and an award winning storyteller.

(He took notes on the talk in his Zelda note book :D)
We still have several more open days to visit and Bailey has lots more to think about, so strange to think he will be 18 next year and possibly at university and able to drive!!!!!!

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Attack on Titan Cosplay Weapons-Cordelia's current obsession..

Cosplay continues to be a main theme at home this week, Cordelia has been in full on Attack on Titan mode, having watched the entire season on Netflix. Its spilled into her art, drawings and music/videos watched on YouTube. She has talked about it a lot with all of us, but then that is what I love most about home educating-the focus of attention when they fall in love with something in particular. It becomes all consuming, she is such a passionate, self motivated and energetic girl that its impossible not to get caught up in her interests! 

I love how she draws all day, everyday without any prompts, she has been so busy this week with commissions on DeviantArt that she has made herself $45 from people buying her art! She has used this money to buy the pieces she needs for her next cosplay costume, how resourceful she is! These life skills that she is putting into practice are so important, she is so mature for her 13 years and so self motivated. She already has a business mind, finding ways to turn her art into a business to fund her cosplay designs/costumes.

This week she has done work on her swords with Hubby cutting them out of MDF-at this rate we are going to require an extra room in our house just for cosplay props!- she has spent ages cutting the detailing out of foam pieces, gluing it on the handles of the swords and today has sprayed them silver. She has some more detailing which she is going to do with paint shading to give the effect of age. Something she has done before with a LOTR sword and her Link shield.

Poor grass! It's always being sprayed different colours!

These are some of her drawings just this past week:

I'm particularly in awe of this recent piece:

Here she is showing me how she created his eye:

Will post an update of the swords when she has finished with the detailing.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Heroclix and Attack on Titan!

I popped out with Piper for a bit this morning so Hubby was in charge, he had a game of Heroclix as requested by Ruben. He's decided to get back into it again, I wrote about it on the blog nearly two years that the boys and Cordelia really got into playing. We even took it away to Center Parcs with us in January 2014:

Meanwhile, inspired by some Anime Cordelia has started making plans for yet another cosplay costume. This time an Attack on Titans costume. She has been drawing costume plans:

And props

And hubby found her some perfect boxes to create the props she needed to make:

They will go on her sides like this:

Still need some re sizing and painting but its a good start. Whilst Piper and I were out we bought the Avengers Age of Ultron DVD from Sainsbury's and Piper bought herself this lovely colouring book:


So the evening was spent watching the film with popcorn-all of us even Bailey sat and watched it again!-and Piper colouring in her new book. Pretty chilled out Monday :)

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Visiting the Saltaire Festival 2015

We've been looking forward to the Saltaire Festival for a while now, last year we visited on a bit of a whim and had a great day, you can read last year's post here, Saltaire Vintage Fair so we were all keen to visit again. There is such an atmosphere, its so busy but we were a little disappointed not to see any steam punk costumes this year. Last year we visited on the Saturday and so maybe that is why? Or maybe it was just a random coincidence that there were lots of people in steam punk costume last year?? I don't know. Ruben got a few looks which made him a bit self conscious, he is getting to that self-aware age, but we told him he looked cool and to ignore the looks. Cordelia got the same attention being decked out in black lipstick and a steam punk/goth dress and Piper with her bright blue hair. Seriously though, they looked so cool, I wish I'd have been half as cool as they are at the same age, I am in awe on a regular basis of how individual and confident they are. School would not be able to deal with their epic-ness/individuality and I'm so thankful they don't have to try fitting into someone else's idea of "normal". 

We hadn't realised last year or last month when we visited briefly, that we could go into the Salts Mill. Such a shame we didn't know earlier because it is brilliant in there. We went to have a look at the David Hockney exhibition only to find the most stunning art gallery! The art supplies and art books that they had in the gift shops were the best selection I have ever seen anywhere. All displayed on beautiful antique furniture with huge vases full of white lilies, truly decadent. Was not expecting that at all! Put several books on my list that I'd never come across before. Cordelia drooled over all of the art supplies-such a good selection and some of her favourite pens!

We enjoyed the Hockney "The Arrival of Spring" exhibit, I loved his colourful paintings of sweeping roads with overhanging trees. Reminded me of visits to Sussex for some reason, when Hubby used to work there, it was always Autumn or Spring when we visited. Ruben thought this chair of Hockney's was very cool:

The room/art gallery:

You can just see Hockney's cubist red post box in the background, its a very different shape but was actually used for a full month at the Salts Mill in 1992 and all the mail posted in it was hand franked, Hockney even designed a special commemorative stamp. 

We were heading up the stairs to the next floor which we thought would be an art exhibit, but it turned out to be a book shop. The best book shop I have ever visited, I could have stayed all day, there was such a huge collection and it was all so beautifully presented and laid out. The building is really stunning inside. Lots of book went on to Christmas lists! I think we could have spent £100's of pounds in the Salts Mill today just on books and art supplies.

Another two flights of stairs to see this:

I think because it was virtually empty the roof space felt vast, it felt like time had stopped in this room which we think maybe explains the exhibit? A clock was ticking in the background and right at the other end was a picture of a clock without any hands. Whatever the actual art behind it, the room itself was art, Cordelia took lots of photo's which I'm looking forward to seeing :)

Couldn't help wondering if this is where they'd dry all the textiles back in the day???

Cordelia taking photographs:

Back down the stairs:

The view from the top windows in the mill:

We had a lovely picnic in Robert's Park, there won't be many more opportunities for those but we managed 3 outdoor lunches this week!!! Great atmosphere listening to the live bands and watching lots and lots of puppies being very cute!


Friday, 18 September 2015

Bolsover Castle Visit

I booked a trip to Bolsover Castle with their free education visit for home educating families. You have to book 14 days in advance but its still a great offer. I used to have several home education memberships but I haven't had any for a while now as we tend to visit places more based on what the children are into at that moment. I like the spontaneity of visiting things as and when and not planning too much. Like last year when we watched the Liverpool Giants on breakfast news and Ruben asked if we could go, the next day we went, its more fluid and its one of many, many home education advantages! Things change fast with teenagers and what they love one minute, they have zero interest in the week after. Better to act fast on things and keep their interest is what I'm finding about home educating older children/teenagers. Two weeks was a bit of a wait really, Ruben was really into building his Minecraft realm when I booked the visit. He actually asked to go to a castle! But since then other realms-not his own-and new games have come and suddenly he wasn't quite so bothered. But we still went.

We met up with friends and had a really wonderful day, marred only by a staff member telling the girls adults-yes she took them for adults!!!-weren't allowed on the playground equipment. I get pretty peeved with the idea that only under 12's can play on a playground. I'm pretty sure she wouldn't have approached a parent playing with a child to say that. Anyway, aside from that we had a lovely time.

Friend and I marveled at how the group of them-5 of them-adapt and enjoy where ever we are at the moment. Within minutes they are all chatting, laughing, taking photos on their phones and having fun. It really is wonderful to watch/hear even if other visitors do not appreciate their excitement. Children seen but not heard/should be in school springs to mind there. And I have to bite my tongue and ignore them, teenagers are allowed to be silly and have fun you know...

The first rooms we came to and we were in here for around half an hour, Piper knew a fair bit of the info as she has read lots on Bess of Hardwick who has connections to Bolsover Castle. It was interesting listening to their chatter about the things in this room. We were all a bit stumped by this cake though..

The building is very cool, however:

Outside, we can't believe how big they have all got. When we first met our friends four years ago, our children were all pretty small..

We walked around the top level of the castle, which is new since we last visited and a really good addition, and up lots of steps. Lots of chat about the paintings in one room and how the women look like men only with very round breasts! We thought maybe they were painted by a man who had never seen a naked women?! Lots of laughing and different ideas on the muscular arms and where they came from.

We found an area that was perfect for putting on a play and friend and I spent half an hour sat watching several plays put on by our children. Thanks to a very helpful dressing up box, the children really got into character! Was a very entertaining half an hour before we headed out to the playground for lunch:

Taking a bow at the end of the show!

We spent the next two hours eating lunch and watching them all play in the(under 12s only) playground. Lovely sunshine and chats about why we think home educating through the teen years is so important, plus explaining type writing homework to the kids on actual typewriters!