Thursday, 15 May 2014

Marisca's party: documentary evidence

Documentary evidence of the theme.

Documentary evidence of a turn of pace at Cranium Hullabaloo.

Documentary evidence that Risky won this round of musical bumps.

Documentary evidence that Marisca likes being in charge.

Documentary evidence that Tom is cool

Documentary evidence that pass the parcel anticipation is the most powerful force known to man.

Documentary evidence of pink milk.

And documentary evidence that Marisca loves being sung Happy Birthday to.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Holiday lessons: biology & nature

Our final holiday lesson is about the natural world.  On the way down to Warwickshire we visited Twycross zoo, where Marisca fell in love with a baby bonobo who kept jumping on his sister.  I've got curiously few photos from the zoo but here is a zebra and a grumpy gorilla.

This photo is nothing to do with the topic, just Tom playing with his trains.  Aw, cute.

We also visited Mary Arden's farm and had fun looking at animals, playing in the playground, getting soaked by a sudden rain shower, watching some barn owl flying, and doing some tile making.  But the best bits were walking a sheep:

... seeing a pig with hair like Thomas:

...and playing in the willow tunnels - slightly more fun for a small girl than a crouching Daddy!

We also had a trip to Batsford arboretum which we've only seen in autumn before.  There were bluebells and other spring flowers in evidence as well as the stunning Japanese Maple trees (which you'll have to indulge me in a couple of pictures of below).  Both children had a really great time - we had an exploring list for Marisca which she was really good at finding items from, as well as the quiz sheet which helped us pull her around.  Tom walked for massive distances (relative to leg length).  Probably the most peaceful and relaxing part of the holiday for me was strolling along next to my boy through the quiet gardens while Marisca and Elspeth raced off ahead looking for something.

This is a photo Marisca took with my camera - I'm impressed!

Tom wrestling a rock into submission:

And finally - a couple of photos from our garden at the cottage.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Holiday lessons: Science & art

We had a trip into Stratford on a gloriously sunny day, bookended by a coffee and playing in a courtyard cafe and a really great lunch at The One Elm pub.

The highlight of the day though was undoubtedly the MAD museum which had three of us hooked (the other being asleep except for a bit to watch the trains choo chooing along).  

The photos can't do it justice as the artwork (although really we'd called them scienceworks) is all about mechanical motion.  Marisca loved pressing the buttons and was totally absorbed by a number of the pieces.  The one pictured below is a good example and took up at least 120 minutes of repeatedly pressing the button to make the white balls rise up the central helix to then whizz off on tracks around the sculpture with switches, sprials, jumps, and all sorts.  Absolutely mesmerising.

Marisca enjoyed all of the exhibits except for the massively loud clapping machine.  Her favourite may well have been this marble run though, which had hundreds and hundreds of marbles chasing each other all over the place, bouncing off tambourines, over xylophones, down lollipop stick staircases and the like.  Very cool.

And finally, for posterity, a nice little mechanical sculpture commissioned some time ago by my very own employer extolling the virtues of the Halifax Building Society.  If this was up in our office I'd get much less work done.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Holiday lessons: history

The girl has taken to pretending to be 'the teacher' in many of her games recently, so I thought I'd structure our holiday updates accordingly.  And the first lesson is history.  Kindof.

On our first afternoon we popped over to Kenilworth Castle.  Many years ago in the dinky years we invested in life membership of English Heritage, and so we felt that popping into Kenilworth Castle for an hour or so to run around on a sunny afternoon was perfectly acceptable.  We've been twice before and this time didn't really spend much time looking at the castle, although we did enjoy playing in the Elizabethan gardens.

As luck would have it, the castle was having some St George's Day celebrations and so there was a lot more going on than usual.  We watched some people in spotlessly clean medieval dress waiting in a queue for the toilets, and enjoyed the knight school where dozens of children hit each other with foam swords.  The highlights though were the dancing and the dragon story.  Marisca and Elspeth got involved with some medieval dancing (Marisca, in particular, really got the hang of it and had immense fun).  

Our second history lesson was a trip to the Black Country Living Museum.  On a Monday it was more of a Black Country School Trip Museum, but that did mean that if we avoided the groups it was quite quiet for a nice explore.  Highlights were the little park where we had our picnic lunch and a lot of running chasing games:

The fairground where Marisca enjoyed her horse on the carousel but Tom REALLY enjoyed driving his car:

And the vehicles - a vintage car showroom and the double decker bus: "CaCar, CaCar"

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

What a silly bunch

Time away from the hustle and bustle of home means more time with the camera to take photos of my silly little family, so here are a pair of the sillier ones.  The first incorporates Tom's new pointing skill, the second demonstrates Elspeth's ability to be silly behind the photographer...

Monday, 5 May 2014

Lengthsman's cottage

We're just back from a week's holiday, although with fourth birthdays and associated parties, it doesn't feel like we're all relaxed!  We stayed at a Landmark Trust property, as has become traditional for this time of year.  This one is the Lengthsman's Cottage, situated near Warwick on the Stratford canal.  The cottage was originally built to housethe people working on and then maintaining the canal, and before 2006 was occupied by the same chap for his 80-odd year life.  

It was a lovely little situation for a holiday.  Enough passing traffic on the lock to bring frequent entertainment without being too busy.  Enough space, yet cosy in the cottage, and a nice enclosed garden for many different games.  

One of the boats coming past ("Up the canal or down?, Up or down Mummy?") was kind enough to let us hop on up to the next lock to try our hand at being mariners.  Tom, in particular, decided this was Not A Good Idea, although Marisca did like the button labelled 'horn'.

The canal path was nice in both directions - solo runs and walks for the grown ups and the occasional saunter for the children, rather than any big family outings.  Here Marisca is enjoying striding back to the cottage.  

Tom did very well at not falling in too - always a bit of a concern given how close we were to the water (see the first picture).

The garden was enclosed although only by a fence that Tom could (and often did) climb through.  Risky enjoyed climbing over it, even when not strictly necessary.

We also enjoyed games in the garden: blowing bubbles, playing catch and football, riding bikes, knocking 'rose bud petals' off the apple trees, and playing with the new shooting ball which proved the pick of the bunch.  It was great to see them both enjoying being outside so much.

And finally, well, here's Tom sitting on the door step.