33/52 :: Margate

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#1 Wind and water; possibly two of your most favourite things. After playing by the sea we got unbelievably soaked by a massive rainstorm. You were beyond exhilarated.

#2 Far less sure about the waves, which were crashing against the steps, than your brother. I’d promised you a play on Margate’s sandy beach but a high tide put a stop to that plan.

We love to visit the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate. It satisfies something for each of us every time. On this occasion the boys loved Spencer Finch’s ‘Cloud’ installation, and the cool #summerofcolour viewing filters designed to be used when looking at the Mondrian exhibition. There were yoga mats available for laying on when looking at an overhead installation. In the hands of my boys these became the equipment for an entirely different game, but thankfully nobody seemed to mind.

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Refuelled with cake and ice cream from the Turner cafe, the plan was to head down on to Margate’s wide sandy beach to have a run around. The sun had made a reappearance after a morning of drizzle and the boys remembered finding loads of hermit crabs there last summer. Only this time the tide was high and the beach was non existent. But they made their own fun, as they always do, by running along the steps and wave dodging. Before too long, a huge bank of black clouds rolled in and the heavens opened. The 10 minute walk back to car was long enough for us to get utterly drenched. It was the type of rain where it’s best to just embrace the fact that you’re going to wet through and enjoy it for what it is. Boy1 found the whole experience massively stimulating. He quite literally loved it. Me and Boy2? Slightly less so and to be honest, when the thunder and lightening started banging and crashing right overhead I was pleased to be back in the car.

Margate, you might be down at heel and rough around the edges but you are yet to disappoint ❤️

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// Joining in with lovely people over at Practising Simplicity and I Heart Snapping #52Project #livingarrows //

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32/52 :: fossil hunting

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#1 You squidged your little finger between two rocks and for the rest of the day that pinky stayed sticking out.

#2 ‘These are fossil-finding hands!’. And they were; you found loads.

I had a spectacularly bad day earlier on in the week. Nothing in particular was wrong, just one of ‘those’ days. I basically lost it with myself, and then with The Man. The children were inevitably (shamefully) caught in the cross-fire. The day was declared a total write-off so we made a plan to take the boys fossil-hunting on a local beach the following day; something we’d been meaning to do for a while.

Despite weather warnings about the tail-end of hurricane Bertha, we ventured out. I’m quite convinced that The Man suggested we head for the coast because (and not despite) of the forecast wind and rain. Yes, it was bracing! But it was just what we (I) needed. I can confirm that fossil-hunting is officially addictive. It was hard for me to know whether to keep searching or carry on snapping.

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I seriously take {and post} too many photos, don’t I? Sorry but I’m not that sorry 😊

// Joining in with lovely people over at Practising Simplicity and I Heart Snapping #52Project #livingarrows //

29/52

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#1 Boy2
#2 Boy1

Short on time, short on photos and short on calm.

Littlest man finally recovered during 29/52 after two full weeks of being unwell. Boy1 was knee-deep in the final rehearsals for ‘Oliver!’. There have been tears, tantrums and over excitement. From all of us.

With show rehearsals and illness taking over all our lives, I decided that it would be best to keep things low-key. During the day we abandoned all home ed meet ups and any of the things we usually do, in an effort to get well again and to save energy for evening rehearsals which sometimes ran until 9pm. In hindsight I’m not sure I did the right thing; the boys were so divorced from their usual routine that the bickering and tiring behaviour began. What it did show me, though, was that despite being unschoolers, we do have more of a routine than I’d previously realised. There is a rhythm to our weeks that I’m now desperate to get back to.

Yesterday was the first performance. I was crying as the orchestra struck up, before the curtain even rose! What an amazingly talented group of young people. I was so proud of my little man; he may not have been the most focused one on the stage but he was amongst the youngest and given that he has always struggled to concentrate he did amazingly. I was so frightened that the experience would have resulted in sensory overload for him but he did it. I’m still feeling wobbly today. Tonight he’ll be watched by his grandparents at an evening performance and then tomorrow I’ll return with The Man and Boy2 to watch his final performance.

As exciting as it is, I’m looking forward to real life making a come back.

Joining in with lovely people over at Practising Simplicity and I Heart Snapping #52Project #livingarrows

25/52

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#1 You’ve always been physical, actually finding it almost impossible to stay still, but this week you discovered that you can balance. And I mean really balance.

#2 You were so tempted to get straight into the water. The deal was that we’d head to a cafe for lunch before getting soaked. You just about kept to that promise. Just about.

We took a train into London for a day of exploring the HMS Belfast, and playing in the water fountains on the More London Estate. The boys had the best time, climbing up and down steep stairs on the ship, engaging in navy related imaginary play, and waving to passing tourist boats. Just a short walk from the Belfast we found the water fountains and made the most of a warm day. London really is the most bizarre place, you know. I lived there for seven years prior to having the boys and I never really noticed. Where else would you find young children, wearing just their swimming trunks, running around playing water games (and acting out bizarre contemporary dance moves) amongst city workers on their lunch break and no one bats an eyelid, engages in conversation or even remotely acknowledges your kids are, quite literally batsh*t crazy?! If this sort of thing happened on Canterbury high street it would make the local news 🙂

It was a great, albeit slightly mad, day (and despite the very serious faces I seem to have captured, they did an awful lot of laughing!)

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Joining in with lovely people over at Practising Simplicity and I Heart Snapping #52Project #livingarrows

23/52

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#1 You returned to ‘base’ momentarily to say something, and then you were off again; my only opportunity to take your photo all afternoon. I love your muddy knees.

#2 And while your brother played at the shore with his friends, you hung out with me again, collecting stones, picking flowers, and admiring beach huts. I love your determination.

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We had another day at the beach, this time with our home ed group. We’ve not joined them as much recently, but with the weather so lovely and the boys being seduced by the craft activity on offer (making catapults), we ventured out. It was so good to see the increase in Boy1’s confidence amongst the other children there.

As you can see, I clearly need some lessons (or self restraint, perhaps) in selecting photos to include here. Trust me, I’ve been tossing coins in an attempt to slim the amount down. Back in the day, I would definitely have been one of those annoying people with a projector who invited people over to sit through endless holiday slides ZZZZzzzzzz.

And right now, we’re literally heading out the door on our way to North Norfolk for a wedding. The boys are safely deposited with the grandparents. It’s been a very, very long time since it was just me and The Man. Such a strange feeling!

Just as my week 23 is submitted, others will be about to submit their week 24. Says it all really! Joining in with lovely people over at Practising Simplicity and I Heart Snapping #52Project #livingarrows

20/52

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#1 You like to take your time over things, concentrating on the details, preferring to hang out close to me…

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#2 …You, on the other hand, constantly move quickly from one thing to another, rarely still

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We were introduced to a wonderful local community park we didn’t know existed by our home education group. What a fantastic place, especially on a day in May that was so warm you could have been fooled into thinking it was high summer. The space is wide and open, with meadows and wooded areas but with the added bonus of a skate park and bike track, as well as play equipment. We spent hours there and returned home grubby, exhausted, and a tiny bit glowing from so much time spent in the sun. A perfect kind of day.

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Joining in (late this time) with those lovely people over at Practising Simplicity and I Heart Snapping #52Project #livingarrows

16/52

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#1 Decorating oneself is a very serious business, don’t you know? You always start out by painting on paper but inevitably, you move on to bigger and better ways of expressing yourself. Let me say it got a whole lot more messy than this but this was my favourite shot of you; such concentration.

#2 You are a reader. A passionate one. You rarely go for anything other than fiction (currently you’re working your way through every age appropriate graphic novel the library can find) but here you’re immersed in a Minecraft tips book. Reading, Minecraft, Lego, and lots of imaginary play is our curriculum.

We’ve had a lovely, laid back, low conflict Easter and today most children return to school and we enter our final term of our first year of home education. Of course, because we’re not following a structured approach there’s no real change from one term to another. But there is an imaginary, philosophical one inside my mind which is turning itself to thoughts of evaluation. So as Boy1’s yr2 peers gear up to take their SATS, I can’t help but ponder on how this year has gone, where we’re at, and whether it’s been a success. These ponderings probably deserve a blog post all of their own though…

For wonderful links to beautiful blogs and photos, please go to Practising Simplicity and I Heart Snapping. And please, share the love ❤

Welney’s swans

We’re visiting Norfolk again; our last chance to say farewell to Nana and Grandad’s house – the house I grew up in. They’re moving out at the end of this week, all being well. Being back has reminded me that when we were here just a few short weeks ago we visited Welney Wetland Centre. It is literally on their doorstep so it seemed like the perfect adventure.

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//image source: Welney Wetland Centre Facebook page//

Every winter swans migrate here in their thousands. They put on a stunning display each evening after dark when the conservation centre staff provide supplementary food. You don’t have to be a wildlife enthusiast or a bird lover to appreciate the drama and beauty, especially as the main hide is enclosed and heated (yeah, this is my type of wild!).

The boys loved it as much as I hoped they would. Feeding time is around 6:30pm so the excitement began simply by leaving in the dark to take the short drive along the bumpy fenland road. This is real isolation for the uninitiated. The boys were busy looking out for the barn owls often seen along this stretch of road but didn’t get lucky on this occasion.

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//image source: Welney Wetland Centre Facebook page//

Nowadays the Welney centre boasts a rather stunning architect-designed eco visitor reception; a far cry from the very humble shed they had back when I used to visit as a child. It was a very windy evening which made the walk across the new bridge that links the centre to the hide even more exciting.

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We’d not told the boys what we’d gone there to see so when they walked into the hide and were faced with swans as far as the eye could see, the gasps were audible. It’s one of those things that you really need to see yourself to appreciate.

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They listened pretty well to what the conservation officer said during her talk, and came up with some thoughtful questions, too. It made me realise, again, just how much Boy1’s confidence has grown and how much more he learns by seeing and doing.

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Boy2 was completely over the moon with the way the swans were fed (with corn from a floating wheelbarrow kept buoyant with a spare tyre). If he doesn’t invent something sometime during his life I’ll be shocked!

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We are lucky to have family living just a couple of miles from this wonderful experience. Given its out-of-the-way location I doubt Welney WWT Centre would be on most people’s to-do list but I urge you to make the effort during the winter months when the swans grace Welney with their presence. My boys came away tired but describing their visit as an ‘exploration’ and an ‘adventure’.

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5/52

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#1 Red…
#2 …and blue.

A chance conversation about what Boy2 might be doing if he was still enrolled at playschool led to us getting the paints out.

What followed was an intensive, sensory-rich hour of pure unadulterated fun (provided we ignore the minor panic of a whole load of paint flicked up the wall. Baby wipes really are a miracle invention, aren’t they?). I felt extreme mummy guilt when it became apparent that my littlest man was experiencing playing with paint like this for the very first time. Boy1 has never really shown an interest in art and craft play, quite the opposite in fact, despite it always being available to him as a toddler. And so I guess it slipped from my radar as something fun to do. Once again, my littlest man is showing himself to be quite the individual and I need to be mindful that they are so different. Boy1 actually had a whole lot of fun too, but was quite happy to get cleaned up the minute his interest waned. But no, not my small one. He squirted, smothered, and squelched until the paper was destroyed, too sodden to withstand anymore punishment. ‘I’m a builder man, Mummy, and I’m mixing up some lovely concrete’.

It was good for my nerves, while the concrete making and wall splattering was going on, to be clicking away and enjoying their happiness rather than cringing at the inevitable mess and over zealous paint replenishment. Something inside me felt insanely satisfied that, quite by chance, they both ended up using paints which complimented their outfits. Yes, I really am like that…

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Joining in the 52 Projects over at Practising Simplicity and Living Arrows.

45/52

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#1 Your first ever sparkler; you loved it which is more than can be said for the big firework display we went to the weekend before where you had to retreat to the safety of the car with Daddy.
#2 A rare moment of sparkler stillness and therefore the only halfway decent photo of you that evening. You just don’t ever stop moving!

This time of year is punctuated with celebration. We have Boy1’s birthday mid October, followed by Halloween. Then it’s bonfire night just a couple of days before Boy2’s birthday. And now all of these are behind us my brain is very slowly shifting into gear for Christmas. The boys enjoyed a wonderful evening of trick or treating, with the last of their candy stash finally being consumed just today. A few days after we took them to a local firework display where Boy1 was in his element but Boy2 was beside himself. And then I remembered just how scared his big brother had been at the same age and felt a bit silly for assuming he would be fine. Funny to think my labour with him started while watching fireworks three years earlier…

We were invited to a bonfire gathering by a lovely new homeschooling friend just a few days later, which really redressed the balance. No scary fireworks, a roaring fire, yummy soup, sparklers and lovely company (it was here that I discovered just how hard it is to take usable photos in the dark!). We’re feeling very blessed right now that seemingly out of nowhere we are now part of a small, very local little home-ed group, right here on our doorstep.

Be sure to check out the other 52 Project submissions at Che & Fidel. I’ve not had a chance in the last week to do so myself but will make sure that I do, just as soon as I can x