Sunday, 26 June 2011

Moths and Moonlight (and camping and bats)

The husband has just returned from a night away with the 2 older girls at Anglesey Abbey. They went camping, set moth traps in the dark, saw bats, went to sleep, woke up, ate a cooked breakfast, released and looked at moths - AND returned home tired but happy. (some photos stolen from his facebook page taken by him himself)

Friday, 24 June 2011

Midsummer fair

Today after school we went to Midsummer common to visit the Cambridge Midsummer fair. It is one of the oldest fairs in the UK- this year being its 800th anniversary. It is mainly a fun fair.  I always find the need the warn the girls how many rides they can go on before I get bankrupted. Most rides cost between £1.50 - £2.50. G decided she wanted to hook a duck and won a very expensive large bouncy ball/balloon thing, E went on 2 little rides and I went on a climbing wall. Then both I and G went on the dodgems- I am never going in a car with G that's all I say! E said "I love fairs - lets go home and get some more money and come back" - hummm!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Marmite snails and busy spiders

Today I went to E's nursery as part of their cooking week to make Marmite snails - no photos because whilst I am more than happy to put photos of my children on the www - I know some people get worried about such things! They are so easy to make - puff pastry, covered with marmite (or passasta if you are not a marmite fan) and then grated cheese. Roll them up, cut into bits and then cook at about 200 degrees C for 12-15 minutes on a lined baking tray and ta da! SIMPLE

Then when we came home we did string painting to make spider's webs. First we read the Very Busy Spider and felt the web and then we dipped string in paint and made webs. They started off looking like webs but then the girls got a little carried away in the excitement - so they look less like webs! But it was fun and everyone got very messy :).

Oh and the other big news P took a step (but she also had her 1st injury not related to the step- she fell over and cut her lip)!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Peppa Pig's Birthday

Today E and me and some friends went to the Cambridge Corn Exchange to watch Peppa Pig's Birthday show. The premise of the story is that we are invited to Peppa Pig’s birthday.  Peppa, Mummy Pig, Daddy Pig and George, together with Suzy Sheep, Emily Elephant, Danny Dog and real human friend Daisy (who formed a link between the audience and the characters) play hide and seek (which had E laughing and laughing), sing, dance and watch Daddy Pig do magic tricks. It follows closely the style of the TV show but using puppet characters with visable human operators. There were lots of panto-style audience participation and joining in with the songs and dancing in the isles. The girls had a fab time and when it ended asked "Can we watch it again?"

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Hungry Caterpillars

Today I stole an idea I had seen on someone else's blog - I am so sorry because it was a long time ago I can't actually remember where! Anyway today we made the caterpillar copying carefully the book and the toy we have. We cut a 12 egg egg box in half (so one side looks better than the other) and E carefully painted the 1st egg hole red (for the head) and the rest green. We then left it to dry whilst we did the school run. Then I made holes in the head and E poked a purple pipe cleaner through and then painted some yellow eyes. I think he looks really cool!

Miss I has been away for a night with school. They took them to  She has come back full of the amazing things they did; from collecting firewood and lighting fires, to cooking several meals, making shelters, swimming in a lake ("although I just paddled Mummy as it was very cold") to getting very muddy. She wants to go back - I do note they take unaccompanied children in the summer holidays


Monday, 20 June 2011

Eric Carle - the Very Hungry Caterpillar

It celebration of his birthday on the 25th I have decided to do some craft stuff based around his books this week.

We love The Very Hungry Caterpillar - it as been a firm favourite of the girls (and I remember being read it when I was a child). So to start the week off E, P and me read the book. We talked about the life cycle of a butterfly and went in the garden to spot some (although we didn't find any caterpillars). Then we did some mirror painting. 1st I drew some butterflies on paper and cut them out. Then E painted on one side of the butterfly. Then we folded the paper into two and pressed to smoothen it. What was painted on one side was imprinted on the other side making it a mirror image and thus the butterfly is symmetrical. You need to ensure you use lots of thick paint (although try not just to end up with a brown blob :) ). It was interesting that although I tried to extend this by just using a price of paper - E wasn't interested - she just wanted to paint a "telescope".

This was great to talk about changes and life cycles and in to introduce the term symmetrical. When we went to pick G up from school we looked for things that looked symmetrical.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

I am one of life's great planners

To be honest I think I get more from the planning than the doing ... but I have enjoyed using this great website .. it is not finished and husband is getting cross because it is bedtime but check it out

Bumps and Truffles

Husband took the girls off down the river this afternoon to watch the college bumps. Although we met rowing I have little interest in watching other people row so I stayed at home and played with P.

Then this evening the girls set to work making truffles for Father's Day. They heated I small carton of double cream to boiling point and then added it to 150g 85% dark chocolate. (I then sneakly added a bit of Grand Marnier). We then left it in the fridge for a couple of hours to stiffen up. The girls then rolled it out into small balls - half were rolled in finally chopped milk chocolate and the other half in cocoa. I hope husband will like them!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Salt Painting

After last weeks sucess with the shaving foam E was keen to do more art that involved her having more control over her materials (ie adding food colouring or squeezing out paint) .. so today me and E salt painted as inspired by

First using squeezy glue E made some wiggle lines (this was the bit she enjoyed the most). She needed a steady hand to keep the glue coming out. Next she enjoyed covering it with salt and shaking the excess off into the bowl. Then having diluted some ready-mix paint with water, using a thin paint brush, she touched the salt with it. The colour ran along the salt trails - she was fascinated with how it spread out. And then because she is 3 - she then painted all over it "because I love painting Mummy" - and who can argue with that :).

Sunday, 12 June 2011

A walk in the rain

I am so excited - today it has rained ALL DAY! Although I suspect we need several weeks of rain my grass is already looking greener! It was less good cycling back home in it - P was not impressed as she sits at the front and it was blowing in her face the whole time! Anyway husband had cooked a lovely Sunday lunch, some friends came over and then we went out for a very short walk in the rain!
We went to the Magog Downs ( , an area of chalk grassland just to the south (opposite Wandlebury). We have never walked their before, but it was lovely - lots of beautiful wild flowers, well marked paths and for those with dogs it has an off lead dog walk as well as a dog on lead walk (which we took as we have no dog).  There are also a number of benches to admire the views. I also imagine, had it not been raining, it would have been very busy!
After we have put on our waterproof coats and said hello to a dog we set off. Looking at the down, we turned right out of the car park and walked up a hill (I say hill, hills are clearly rare here and this one did offer a good view of Cambridge and is apparently good for kite flying).  WE then walked to Jane's piece which offered us a good view of Stapleford and some interesting holes in the hedgerow which we thought may be inhabited by Gruffalos. We then walked along the south down where we saw some sheep grazing. About half way along this path there were some steps up to your left which we took and then then turned right and walked in Magog wood. We then took the diagonal path along north down back to the car park.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Cambridge Town & Country Show

Today, whilst Miss I was at Mr Stink - a touring play at Cambridge art's theatre with a friend [incidentally she said it was fab. It is a play based on the book by THE David Williams - we have the audio book read by Matt Lucas which is brill.; we took the girls to the Cambridge Town and gown show at Parker's Piece. There was some free stuff - animals to be looked at (ponies to be groomed, dogs, ferrets and chickens), The Sheep Show (demonstration sheep sheering) and battle re-enactment. But what the girls mostly wanted to do was go on expensive rides - bouncy castles, inflatable slides, small roller coasters etc etc AND eat ice-cream!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Painting with shaving foam

I don't do enough messy play with E - I wish I did but I can't be bothered with all the clearing up!

However messy play is important; as well as being loads of fun it offers many educational advantages. Finding a link about the importance of messy play in the EYFS, Duffy says messy play allows the process of what Piaget called cognitive disequilibrium (where thinking has to change to incorporate new information). Messy play allows this by challenging children's interpretation of the world via exploration of different materials (  It also helps develop children's curiosity and encourages a positive approach to new experiences and can help develop concentration.  In observing, selecting and manipulating different objects and materials, children can identify simple features, similarities and differences thus helping language and scientific development.

Today I was brave and we got out shaving foam and food colouring. E was amazed at how the foam changed when it was interacted with and spend along time drawing in it. Then we added food colouring. She enjoyed being careful adding the colours and then mixing them up with a old chopstick. To be honest the printing on paper was almost unnecessary.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Wicken Fen walk and elderflower gathering

 Today we drove to Wicken Fen which is about half an hour out of Cambridge.  We have been twice before - once for I's 7th birthday and once to meet Father Christmas  but I wanted to do a proper walk. Having googled it, we picked the Adventurers’ Trail: which is 2 3⁄4 miles.

We started with Wicken Lode on our right and followed the path keeping the water to our right. We saw some ash trees and Wicken’s Poor Fen on our left which is common land where local villagers used to collect sedge and peat from here. We crossed Monk’s Lode at Norman’s Bridge. There were 2 narrow boats mored here. Having turned left we walked along Monk’s Lode. Then we turned right through the lower set of gates. The girls were interested in the two hides on the right, but knowing their inability to keep quiet we thought we better stay away. I and G were excited to see the wild Konik ponies and highland cattle in the distance however. We then turned right along the next path. Then we turned right again to walk alongside Wicken Lode. We crossed back over Norman’s Bridge and returned to the car park.

Even more excitedly I found lots of Elder in flower which I collected. Then I came back and have made elderflower cordial. I used this recipe:

25 elderflower heads
7 tablespoons of lemon juice (as I didn't have any real lemons but if I did I would have used 3)
2 tsp of citric acid (bought off the internet)
1.5 kg  of sugar
1.5 ltr  boiling water

First I boiled a kettle for the water. I shook the flowers over another bowl to get rid of insects (although I note there are a number of drowned tiny ones in the mixture) Then I put the other ingredients in my huge bowl. Then I pour the water over the other ingredients and stired until the sugar has dissolved.  I covered with a tea towel.

I will remember to stir twice a day for five days. Then I'll strain though a fine sieve and a muslin cloth to decant into sterile screw topped bottles and refrigerate.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Meeting an author

The highlight of I's half-term was meeting her favourite author, Jacqueline Wilson, at the close of Bookfest in Birmingham. She gave I hope as she told the children when she was a little girl she would start stories and never finish them. She was a really good speaker and I would recommend hearing her if you have any young fans. I was lucky enough to get a book signed by her. I think I was right in not taking any of the others - I am not sure they could have sat and listened for an hour, nor waited for an hour and a half for a book to be signed! They were quite happy pottering at my parent's.

Friday, 3 June 2011

bunting ... how very Boden

This morning we had a flying visit to see a friend from school and one of her children .. plus the chickens (I am soo jealous!)
Then I and G had a "how to make bunting" course at the Midlands Art Centre (in Edgbaston Birmingham). It was very reasonable at only £7 a child for 2 hours.  We (my mum, me, G and P) left them bunting and had a walk round the park and a play. E's favorite game at the moment is hide and seek - although she is not so good at hiding, giving herself away by giggling or hiding in the same place. She then told us, "We are going to play more hide and seek when we get back to the car" - humm! The girls really enjoyed their course and the bunting is fab! They made it with their names on - each flag had a letter on. It was done without sewing - just irons and glue!
It is things like this that remind me how different my girls are. I walked straight into the room, telling the lady running it she had spelt her name wrong; where as G held back and was much more nervous about it.
 We then admired the bunting and ate ice-cream!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Twycross zoo

Whilst visiting my parents in Birmingham at half-term we went to Twycross zoo. The car park was packed but actually once inside the crowds seem to disappear and we had no trouble seeing any of the animals - some a little too close for E's comfort. Twycross has lots of primates.  I think it was only the snow leopards we didn't see because they were hiding. The girls said there favourite animals were the meerkats, the penguins and the gorillas. They also had a few rides which were included in the price of the ticket. They had 2 suitable for E and 2 suitable for G and I (but not if you have a brave child hardened to theme park rides). The best one was a little train ride round the children's zoo. We stayed at the zoo for about 5 hours and saw most things - but by then E had had enough ... so we came home!