Tuesday, 12 August 2014

40 Days of Summer - Days 11 to 20

Day 11: Building a Den!

We had planned an exploring expedition today, but it's been raining on and off all day. In the end, we went for den building instead. We've been doing a bit of decorating lately, so all the dust sheets made a brilliant canopy for our dining table and chairs. We used the chairs to create an entrance, with our big crafting board for the 'porch' roof. I don't know why children are so fascinated with hidey-holes, but I do know he will happily sit in there all day, with his torch and a pile of sausage rolls! This is also a great way to play board games. We attempted the card game Monopoly Deal. It may just be me, but it seemed very complicated! I don't think either of us worked out how he won! 

#40DaysofSummer What will you do today?

Day 12: Making Biscuits!
This evening we made biscuits. I developed the recipe because I don't get on well with gluten. Nothing specific, it just makes me feel not-so-great. I recently discovered Spelt flour, which contains a different type of gluten. I find this much easier to digest. So, these biscuits can be made with wholemeal flour or, if you have a more delicate constitution, you can use Spelt flour instead. I am a massive fan of baking with children. I love recipes like this one, where you have to get your hands in the mix and get really involved in the whole process. It's just brilliant fun and teaches children not to be afraid of food or trying new things in general. The recipe can be found here if you'd like to have a try. I used writing icing, which you can buy from supermarkets and comes in a tube, a bit like toothpaste, for ease of use. Any sweets will do for decorating. If you are baking with young children, I don't recommend using the silver balls, as they are very hard and not ideal for new teeth! 

#40DaysofSummer What will you do today?

Day 13: It's Movie Night!

Well, movie day, really. We made too much popcorn again, but no one seemed to mind. Popcorn is actually pretty healthy, especially if you make your own. We've had our popcorn maker forever and use it all the time. It's basically a capsule containing what is essentially a very small hairdryer. It heats up the kernels until they pop, then they push their way out of the funnel at the front. You can buy one for around £15. Amazon have a few to choose from at the moment and they are an investment as the kernels cost around £1 for a 500g bag, which will last ages. You only need about 50g for a generous bowlful! It's also quite fun to make, watching a few tiny kernels turn into lots of fluffy popcorn. The film we watched was Phineas and Ferb the movie, but, if that's not your thing, remember; it's not about what you watch, but who you watch it with! 

#40DaysofSummer What will you do today?

Day 14: Thing that go Squelch in the Rain!

Last night I hung out two loads of washing. It snaked in lines across the garden, taunting the sky. So it rained. All night and most of today. It was nice not to have to water the garden, but having stayed in most of yesterday, L really needed to go out today. Boys are just not designed to be indoors! As soon as the rain stopped L and his sister went off for an explore with a camera, to see what minibeasts the rain would bring out. The world always looks more interesting through a lens. It really helps to focus on small details and children see things in a totally different way. It soon became clear that snails were the order of the day, with a few slugs (naked snails?!) thrown in. L has a Vivitar Vivicam 5119, which currently retails at around £20. It's a really good camera for children, because it is light and easy to use. I love that it has a screen, as this is really helpful for children to see what they have taken and improve their shots. It also has a video function, but we've not really used that yet. Here are some of our best examples of snails. I hope you're not squeamish! 

 #40DaysofSummer What will you do today?

Day 15: Shooting Hoops!

We really don't go here often enough. It's about a mile from our house and has the most fabulous views across the countryside. I have tried to take a picture of the view but I can't really do it justice! Anyway, it's staggering how much fun you can have with a basketball. I was mainly enjoying the views and trying to take some good action shots, but it was really fun watching L get so involved in scoring baskets. I don't think it hurts to get children interested in sports. It's also really nice for L, because this is something he's pretty good at and, more importantly, he is better than his older sister, which is always a bonus. There were no costs involved in this outing, we just took some cold drinks along, as it was a very hot day. It's lovely to have the space to run around, the garden has shrunk so much since the paddling pool went up and boys, especially, do seem to benefit from letting off steam. There are football goals there too, so that's something to try next time! 

#40DaysofSummer What will you do today?

Day 16: Castle Toilet Park! 

It was off into Bristol today for our weekly bus jolly, this time a little detour through Castle Park. I am going to have to do a full-size post on this lovely little gem, as it is such a fabulous place. I am always in awe of the fantastic history hiding around every corner of our wonderful city. The unique aspect of Castle Park is that the history it contains is part of it's charm, but it doesn't define it. People go to Castle Park to soak up the sun and the atmosphere, maybe have an ice cream, meet friends, but snuggled amongst the grassy mounds and cheery ice cream vans are some beautiful pockets of history. I am weirdly fascinated by what I am convinced is the fanciest toilet in our fair lands, so we entered through the Castle Park Toilet entrance. There is a stunning little tree lined walkway with fruit sculptures that makes a beautiful backdrop for a photo. We had a really enjoyable walk, examining some of the historical monuments, that include the ruined tower of St Mary-le-Port Church and parts of the south wall of Bristol Castle. You can literally feel the past oozing from the dusty bricks and tiny windows. The atmosphere is incredible. It's really one of those rare and valuable places where children can cheerfully absorb so much information and wonder, without ever even realising they're learning!

#40DaysofSummer What will you do today?

Day 17: Brean Sands!

When most people think of the Somerset coastline, it's usually Weston-super-Mare that springs to mind. There are however, several smaller, lesser known resorts that offer different types of seaside experience. Brean has a Leisure Park with rides and entertainment, ample parking and a large covered arcade. What I like best about it, is Brean doesn't have a pier. The beach is just a good, old-fashioned stretch of sand and sea, perfect for an uninterrupted spell of sunbathing or paddling, without the lure of the (let's face it, fairly expensive!) pier attractions. I don't want to sound like a total misery, but sometimes I just want to sit on the sand with the children and do normal beach stuff, that's why I love Brean. There is so much space. There were a lot of people around, but it didn't feel at all crowded. I have to say a special mention to the ice cream lady, who drove over to where we were sitting, so my daughter wouldn't have to carry all the ice creams and was very reasonably priced, especially compared to some we've encountered recently! The only downsides of Brean were the vast amount of litter and dogs permitted on the beach. This wasn't a problem, as they were well controlled, but could have been if the owners were less considerate. It's a little bit trickier to drive to, compared to Weston, but definitely worth the effort. 

#40DaysofSummer What will you do today?

Day 18: Games Night!

The weather was horrid today, and we were worn out after two days of gallivanting around, so we decided to have a day in. We really enjoy playing games as a family, but recently we have become a bit bored with the same games. I remembered when Jade was small, she really enjoyed card games like Old Maid and Donkey, so I had a look on Amazon and found some for just over £1. I have a lot of small toys and gifts that I buy in the sales for party bags and stocking fillers, so we made a little prize tub, to make things more interesting. L got really involved in the games and was really concentrating and trying to win. I think it has done wonders for his sportsmanship, though, as he has stopped reacting badly to losing! The prize tub could contain sweets or chocolates, if you don't have a strange shopping habit for trinkets like me! 

#40DaysofSummer What will you do today?

Day 19: Why Walk, When you can Roll?!

We are building up to a weekend away, travelling from Bristol to London by bus, so things are getting busy here, in preparation. We did, however, manage a bit of a stroll, just in our local area, between persistent showers! This weather is making it really hard to get out and about. I should probably toughen up and go anyway, and I do in the autumn, but I keep thinking it will pass and we will get our lovely summer back! Anyway, amongst other interesting activities, such as hide and seek and racing round the tree, we found a big hill for rolling down. This amused me greatly, as I used to love doing this until I was old enough to know better! Here is a picture of me rolling down a hill on a school trip in the early 90's, next to L rolling down the hill outside our front door! 

The grass was greener when I was young!  

#40DaysofSummer What will you do today?

Day 20: Make a Silly Cake!

I love Play-doh, I really do. But, the time comes to us all when the children outgrow it and you can't really justify buying it anymore, even though everyone knows you were probably buying it for yourself. Mainly because it smells so great. There is good news, however, as there is an alternative that is nearly as good. It is mouldable like Play-doh and may not smell the same, but certainly tastes better! I'm talking about fondant icing! Hours of fun can be had, moulding shapes and characters, which you can use to decorate cakes, or just eat, but not too many, or the tooth fairy would be very busy indeed! We made this really silly rabbit cake, that went a bit wrong. Well, it actually went very wrong, as it was originally a mole. Anyway, it might be a bit wonky and a little bit odd, but we made it and it was fun. And delicious. I saw a competition that was closing that day, so we entered with hopeful (delusioned) hearts! We don't stand a chance, but we enjoyed the dream, and the cake. Ooh, by the way, the 'grass' is dessicated coconut, dyed green. It works for lots of different cakes, where you need to add texture. 

 #40DaysofSummer What will you do today?


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