Rollercoaster Mum: March 2014


Sunday, 30 March 2014

The Year 2014 in Photos - Week 13

Bit late posting this week as had a bit of a dose of 'can't be arsed' and also been really tired (lots of photos though as includes two weekends - next week might be a bit sparse!) Gas was finally restored last Monday so we have heat and hot water again - yay! Last Sunday however found us at the local swimming pool having a rare family swim with the primary aim of having a shower!

After all that excitement it was Bigger Miss's birthday later in the week - she is 9 - eeek! The birthday itself was fairly quiet as what with school and Brownies she didn't spend much of it at home but she was very pleased to get what she really really wanted which was a sheepskin rug as the finishing touch for her 'new' bedroom. Once the birthday was over the rest of the week was spent gearing up for her Brownie adventure weekend away at PGL. We delivered her there on Friday afternoon and she is expected back for Sunday tea. Little Miss has thoroughly enjoyed being an only child for the weekend with bike rides, trips to Pizza Express and just generally some peace and quiet. So quickly on with the pictures before all hell breaks loose again...

Rain clouds on a country walk, Longmoor Ranges
To stop us being too fed up last weekend I dragged the girls off for a walk on the Ranges, reluctant at first they ended up having a great time and I took some panaromic pics of the rain clouds with Big Miss's camera.
firing a cannon! HMS Victory, Portsmouth
Little Miss on HMS Victory - we had gone down to Portsmouth as Bigger Miss had a Laser Quest party to attend (never again she said afterwards!) so the rest of us had a wander around the dockyards - slightly marred by hordes of foreign students! 
bunting for birthdays
Birthday time and the bunting is up! (bit of a tradition in our house!)

They love each other really! 

Ikea sheepskin rug
Bigger Miss was very very pleased with her sheepskin rug which completes her 'new' bedroom
birthday presents
Bigger Miss modelling more of her birthday presents! 
Birthday cake with chocolate fingers and raspberries
And finally the Birthday Cake - quite proud of this one, it turned out well! 
Pizza Express on an only child weekend
Little Miss enjoying being an only child for the weekend - bike trips to a local park and lunch at Pizza Express! 
graceful white swan
Had I not been chasing Little Miss around the lake I could have taken loads more fabulous pictures of the birds and the blue water but this was the best I got -  I may just have to go back (alone) if there is a sunny day on one of my non-working days! 
 For lots more springtime fun head on over to the Boy and Me....

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Silent Sunday #MySundayPhoto

Spring blossom


Thursday, 27 March 2014

A Winter Walk at the Devil's Punch Bowl - A National Trust Great British Walk

In the autumn last year we had a fabulous autumn adventure following the Hidden Hindhead trail at the National Trust Devil's Punch Bowl in the Surrey Hills and the girls were keen to go back and follow the other main trail from the car park there. Both trails are really well signposted and there is also a self-guided trail leaflet that you can pick up. If you only have a short time there is another shorter trail called the Sailor's Stroll which covers part of the Hidden Hindhead trail.

So, on about the one and only dry day in the Christmas holidays we escaped the house and whisked ourselves off for a winter walk on the Highcombe Hike. This trail is sightly shorter than Hidden Hindhead at just 2.8 miles but it was a bit muddy and hilly - especially after all the rain and storms we had over Christmas. Some of the pics have been posted before but I wanted to do a whole post on our walk - even if it has been just a tad delayed!

view of National Trust Devil's Punch Bowl, Surrey Hills
We walked a little way through some woodland and then happened on a lovely view  which the girls wanted to take a picture of too.
herd of Exmoor ponies, National Trust Devil's Punch Bowl, Surrey Hills
We emerged out of the trees on to a moorland area and one of the highlights of the walk - discovering the herd of Exmoor ponies that are kept there to help maintain the habitat.
saying hello to Exmoor pony, National Trust Devil's Punch Bowl, Surrey Hills
Saying hello to one of the Exmoor ponies
sunny day at the National Trust Devil's Punch Bowl, Surrey Hills
From up here there was another lovely view and even some blue sky (it didn't last though!)
splashing in puddles, National Trust Devil's Punch Bowl, Surrey Hills
The girls found a puddle with a view! 
trail signs for Highcombe Hike,  National Trust Devil's Punch Bowl, Surrey Hills
Spotting the yellow trail signs was all part of the fun.

electricity pylons, National Trust Devil's Punch Bowl, Surrey Hills
While they were spotting trail signs I was admiring the electricity pylons! We were on a ridge between two valleys and on one side was a line of pylons so we were above them - giving us an interesting perspective.

cleaning up after the storm, National Trust Devil's Punch Bowl, Surrey Hills
There were lots of fallen trees and I think this fire was all part of the clean up after the big storms at Christmas.

Keeper's Cottage, National Trust Devil's Punch Bowl, Surrey Hills
We soon dropped steeply down into the valley and passed the lovely Keeper's Cottage, one of the four or five dwellings in the area. 

time for a snack, Highcombe Hike, National Trust Devil's Punch Bowl, Surrey Hills
We reckoned we were about half way round so it was time for a snack! 

muddy paths, Highcombe Hike,  National Trust Devil's Punch Bowl, Surrey Hills
It was very muddy in places down in the valley! 
tall trees, Highcombe Hike,  National Trust Devil's Punch Bowl, Surrey Hills
The path was like a sunken lane at this point and there were lots of these fabulous tall trees which the girls spent ages playing around. 

green footed trees, tall trees, Highcombe Hike,  National Trust Devil's Punch Bowl, Surrey Hills
Little Miss striding off to check out the green monster feet on the trees in the valley that we came out into after the sunken lane. 
Monster tree feet, tall trees, Highcombe Hike,  National Trust Devil's Punch Bowl, Surrey Hills
They really did look like monster's feet! 
damaged by the storm, Highcombe Hike,  National Trust Devil's Punch Bowl, Surrey Hills
As we left the open valley we went down further into the deeply wooded Highcombe Copse which had lots of storm damage and fallen trees. There was a lot of climbing round trees that had fallen over the path - lots of work for the rangers.

At the top - Highcombe Hike,  National Trust Devil's Punch Bowl, Surrey Hills
After a steep climb out of the wooded valley we emerged back at the car park - Highcombe Hike hiked and off back home for a hot drink after a windy picture at the top.
 Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall 

Sunday, 23 March 2014

A STEM Festival and some science to celebrate National Science and Engineering Week

We had a great afternoon out last weekend at a local secondary's school's STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Festival - the girls really enjoyed experimenting and joining in with all sorts of things from rainbows in test tubes to trying out Army minesweepers. Although I posted a collage photo for last weeks ' Year 2014 in Photos' I thought that being National Science and Engineering Week (albeit near the end) I should do a longer post about it too. I am all for encouraging kids to do more science.

Bohunt STEM Festival for National Science Engineering Week 2014
Poster for the fab local STEM Festival and it was freeee!!

Titan the 7 foot Robot, STEM Festival Bohunt
Titan the 7 foot Robot was very entertaining, even dancing Gangnam style.

making rainbows in a test tube, STEM Festival Bohunt
Making a rainbow in a test tube - if you want to know how it worked it was done with different coloured sugar solutions made at different concentrations.
Putting your hand through a bubble, STEM Festival, Bohunt
Science can be Magic! - this was how to put your hand through a bubble without bursting it (the answer is to cover your hand with the bubble solution. If you try it with a pencil, a dry one will break the bubble but one covered in the solution will not - it's all to do with surface tension)
Army minesweeper training - STEM Festival, Bohunt
Little Miss trying out the minesweepers with the Army - not sure if it was the equipment or the soldiers that made her want to give this one a go!!

Giant bugs and beasties, STEM Festival, Bohunt
You could hold and touch all sorts of not so mini beasties and admire some slightly odd ones like the Pacman Frog.

Changing the wheel on a go-kart, STEM festival, Bohunt
The girls were surprisingly fascinated by this exhibitor - especially the wheel changing which they were insistent on doing - think it was something to do with the tools!

There was loads of other stuff to do - almost too much, we just didn't find everything but all in all it was great afternoon out and hopefully they inspired lots more kids to give Science a go. I had the best of intentions to dust down the science kit that Bigger Miss got for Christmas but we only managed one short 'experiment' on Friday after school. 

The girls were very excited by the exploding 'volcano' even if it didn't exactly 'explode' - next time more baking soda maybe? The fair has definitely inspired me to try more simple science stuff with the girls. Meanwhile Little Miss totally coincidentally got given a 'Science Dictionary' as her reading book for the weekend - not exactly an ideal read for a 6yo and definitely a little odd from the literacy angle but she has actually been quite interested in it. 

Volcano - Explosive Experiments
Bigger Miss checking out her exploding Volcano - complete with safety goggles! It works with vinegar (acid) and Sodium Bicarbonate (otherwise known as baking soda) reacting together.
Gold Level Science reading book
Little Miss's school reading book for the weekend was bang on theme! 
I hope that at least some of you might be inspired to visit a Science event, do some simple science at home or generally just try to inspire our kids to do more science. 

Silent Sunday #MySundayPhoto

yellow flowers from Winter Jasmine


Saturday, 22 March 2014

The Year 2014 in Photos - Week 12

I haven't taken that many photos this week so I didn't have many to choose from. Some weeks it is just harder to find the subject matter and as the weather has got a bit more wintry again it is more difficult to be inspired. We have still been busy but mainly with just the routine stuff. The only noteable events were a last minute dress up day (thanks school!) for Bigger Miss and finally replacing our blinking boiler that had gone wrong again.

However as I write, even this has not gone smoothly as although the new boiler is working fine they couldn't sign it off because the gas pressure coming into the building is too low. Apparently this needs to be fixed by Southern Gas networks (or something like that) and quite frankly they don't seem to know their arse from their elbow - we have had two visits from them today (different people) and we were promised another but here we are with no gas coming into the house so no heat, hot water or gas hob - sooooo frustrating - grrrrrrr.

Right rant over on with the photos!

red rhubarb stalks ready to pick
I did manage to take a couple in the garden and I love the shape and form and colour of the rhubarb at this time of year.
Celtic costume for school
Bigger Miss had a Roman Feast day at school to which we were invited and we had known about this for sometime but they had omitted to tell us it was also a dressing up day. They could either dress up as a Celt or a Roman and we knew less than 48 hours before. After considering just throwing a blanket over her head, at the eleventh hour I remembered we still had some Mediaeval costumes we made at Guilfest two years ago. I dug them out ironed them and hey presto - with a bit of hair braiding and the blanket we had a Celt! They had a great day making bread, practising Roman entertainment and finally hosting the 'feast'' for the parents.
watching the goggle box!
After the Science Fair last weekend we were inspired to dig out Bigger Miss's science kit she got for Christmas (more on that later) but after Little Miss had joined in she decided she wanted to wear the goggles to watch TV (goodness knows why but it puts a whole new meaning on the 'Goggle Box'! 
copper pipework on boiler
And lastly the shiny new copper pipework on the new boiler that we cannot use. 
For lots more fun and frolics head on over to the Boy and Me:

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Friday, 21 March 2014

A poem for UNESCO World Poetry Day

I can't write poems to save my life but I do like reading them and I think they are underrated as a form of literature. I have tried to introduce them to the girls and we have several children's poetry books. They do like having them read to them so I hope I am succeeding in passing on my love for poetry. In the light of my inability to write poetry I am sharing a spring poem that I found today that cheered me up. Good on the UN for making 21st March World Poetry Day and I shall be reading some tonight to the girls at bedtime in honour of the day.

Daisy Time
by Marjorie Pickthall

See, the grass is full of stars, 
Fallen in their brightness;
Hearts they have of shining gold, 
Rays of shining whiteness.

Buttercups have honeyed hearts, 
Bees they love the clover, 
But I love the daisies' dance
All the meadows over.

Blow, O blow, you happy winds, 
Singing summer's praises,
Up the field and down the field
A-dancing with the daisies. 

Country Kids - School Trip to Butser Ancient Farm

Last week I joined Bigger Miss's class on a school trip to Butser Ancient Farm to support their current topic of Invaders and Settlers. I have to admit to practically begging to go on it as I was very intrigued and it sounded really rather fun. I wasn't wrong - we had a lovely day albeit a chilly one. The teacher had warned us that it would be cold up on the Downs but it had been a glorious sunny day the day before and we had been lulled into a false sense of security - still it didn't stop us enjoying the trip. I took loads of pictures so this is definitely a picture post of our day.

Celtic Village - Butser Ancient Farm
I loved how the Celtic village fitted into the landscape. 

Celtic roundhouse dwelling - Butser Ancient Farm
The roundouses were fascinating and all such wonderful shapes with their pointy roofs. They have all been reconstructed based on excavations in different parts of the country so they are as genuine as they can be. 
Life in an Iron Age Roundhouse - Butser Ancient Farm
There are some information boards around explaining some of the features like this one outside one of the roundhouses. We didn't really need these as we had a lovely guide for the day called Jenny who was incredibly helpful and informative.
fireplace in Celtic roundhouse - Butser Ancient Farm
We had our own roundhouse for the day where we could leave our bags, have lunch and huddle around the fire! 

Celtic wall art - roundhouse - Butser Ancient Farm
The roundhouse walls had been decorated with lots of fabulous Celtic art which looked great against the white limewash walls.

celtic wall art , roundhouse, Butser Ancient Farm
Bigger Miss in our roundhouse with some more Celtic wall art behind her.

Iron Age Roundhouse roof inside - Butser Ancient Farm
The roof was quite a work or art in itself and this shows how it joins with walls and the art inside - it was a bit smoky with the fire- hence the slight haze! 
animal skulls in the Celtic Village, Butser Ancient Farm
There were animal skulls on most of the rounhouses (I think the celts believed this protected them from evil spirits) and an amazing sheep's skull on a really really tall totel like pole in the middle of the village. 

black lambs, Butser Ancient Farm
After an introductory talk by Jenny in 'our' roundhouse we went outside to do some spinning but we were all rather distracted at first by some newborn black lambs on the hill. 

Spinning wool using a celtic drop spindle, Butser Ancient Farm
Using the Celtic drop spindle to spin sheep's wool was a lot harder than it looked! 

Celtic friendship bracelets, Butser Ancient Farm
We all managed to spin enough wool to make a bracelet - some were better than others!! 

wattle fence making, Butser Ancient Farm
The next activity was making a wattle fence with long hazel sticks. Bigger Miss was a little cold at this point - and obviously concentrating hard! 
hairy pigs, 4 horned sheep, Butser Ancient Farm
After they had finished their fencing activity they could go and look at the animals like the spectacularly hairy pigs and the four horned sheep - all old breeds to fit in with the farm.
Celtic pig names, hairy pigs, Butser Ancient Farm
The hairy pigs were big too. The best game was to see if you could work out their names though - written in Celtic - using the board showing how the modern alphabet ties up with the Celtic one - can you work it out?

large Iron Age roundouse, Butser Ancient Farm
After wattle fence making it was back to the Celtic village and the roundhouse for lunch. Isn't the roof just wonderful?
Living history, Celtic village, Butser Ancient Farm
After lunch we had a bit of extra time and our guide, Jenny, very kindly took us round the Celtic village showing us such delights as the toilet (yes they did actually have one), the beehive, the underground butchery, the smoked meat on the ceiling and the furnished roundhouse amongst others.

information board, Roman Villa, Butser Ancient Farm
After our tour it was time for the afternoon's activities. Over to the reconstruction of the Roman Villa to see how it differed from the roundhouse. I didn't take quite as many picture of this- partly because it just wasn't as photogenic as the roundhouses and partly because we had all tired a little I think! 
reconstructed Roman Villa, Butser Ancient Farm
I nabbed this picture off Wikipedia so you could see what it looks like! 
Roman numeral converter, Butser Ancient Farm
I thought this Roman numeral converter in the Villa might come in handy! 
window patterns, Roman Villa,  Butser Ancient Farm
I was quite fascinated by the different patterns on the windows in the Roman Villa so took a few pictures of them- there were also murals painted on the walls which I didn't take any pics of.
Fabulous Lego Roman Mosaic, Butser Ancient Farm
Being a Lego fan this was my absolute favourite part of the Roman Villa - a whole Roman mosaic made out of Lego - fabulous! I am sure they are more proud of their working hypocaust (Roman central heating) but the lego did it for me!
Roman mosaics, Butser Ancient Farm
After our tour round the Roman villa the next activity was making some Roman mosaics out of small tiles - this was Bigger Miss's effort - she didn't quite get time to finish it though.
Celtic jewellery making, Butser Ancient Farm
The last activity of the day was probably the most popular - even with the boys. Making Celtic jewellery out of wire -using proper tools. They all got to make one and it was very simple but lots of fun and very effective. 

So there you have it - that was our school trip to Butser Ancient Farm. It was a really good day and I had one very tired girl after all that fresh air and fun. Mum was quite tired too! I can thoroughly recommend a visit there if you are passing. It's not just for schools, anyone can go and visit - just check out their website.

Please note that this post is all my own words and picture (apart from the Wikipedia one) and is no way sponsored or recompensed.

I am linking up with the lovely Coombe Mill for Country Kids as this was definitely a fresh air day!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall 

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