Sunday, 27 October 2013

pumpkin carving

A blustery day outside called for some creative time indoors so we spent this afternoon carving our pumpkins.

Next year we're going to plant our own seeds and try and grow our own Mammoth Pumpkins - do join us.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

It's time to say enough is enough

PROJECT WILD THING - official trailer from Green Lions on Vimeo.

"It's time to say enough is enough" were the words used today by David Bond, the man behind Project Wild Thing. 

national report launched today has revealed that only 10% of children in the UK have a level of connection to nature deemed 'realistic and achievable' for all children. Whilst we all know that increased screen time, pressure on family time and parental fear are the main barriers to children getting outdoors, there is still a decline in children's access to nature.

Two things that really stand out of this report to me are the facts that only 10% of children regularly play outside compared to 40% in 1970 and that connection to nature was significantly lower for children in rural areas compared to urban areas. What is going on? Are our lives so busy and our children's diaries so full that they don't have time to play outdoors? I hang my own head in shame as I realise that as my children are growing up, we too are spending less time outdoors, mainly as the sports clubs the boys belong to, are taking up an increased amount of time as the boys have got better and more serious about it. The majority of their outdoor time is under supervision, whilst we stand on the sidelines!

I can totally understand the fact that rural children have less access to nature as the countryside isn't as accessible as you think it is. There is more areas fenced off, you have to stick to footpaths and if you live in the countryside you're in the habit of having to drive to get anywhere, public transport isn't that good! Only last summer a friend went to float some paper boats the children had made on a local stream only to be shouted at by an irate man, telling them to get out and how dare they trespass and leave litter. It's this type of experience that scares children, of course they'd have taken the boats home with them.

In two weeks time across the UK, Project Wild Thing is screening their film described by Hussain Currimbhoy as "enlightening and entertaining. Like David Attenborough and Morgan Spurlock got drunk and had a baby..." The film is an ambitious documentary, fueled by social media interest and takes a 'funny and revealing look at a complex issue, the increasingly disparate connection between children and nature'. But Project Wild Thing is so much more than a film, it has captured the imagination of the big NGO's; The National Trust, RSPB, Woodland Trust and the Wildlife Trusts to name but a few - there are now hundreds signed up. These are the organisations who are fighting daily big conservation issues and welcoming hundreds of people on their nature reserves and land, as well as educating children and their parents. They are now driving forward some of the issues that the film is raising, the need to get our children free-roaming again, this is wonderful, in fact it is groundbreakingly fabulous.

The film is being screened across the UK in a few weeks time and you can book your tickets now. But the story starts now, in our own homes, making daily or weekly changes - the simple stuff like walking to school, jumping in puddles, picking up leaves and reconnecting with nature - I think we're out of excuses, don't you?

Monday, 14 October 2013

fabulous fossil hunting

It's always good to go fossil hunting after a good rain storm as it often erodes cliffs, exposing more! And after the rain this last week, it was the perfect time to go off exploring. 

The best place to look for fossils is the scree at the bottom of a cliff, you may need a fossil hammer and goggles to break rocks open and discover the fossils inside. 

It was really quite muddy though and it felt like wearing concrete welly boots! Such a good workout though.

We found lots of treasure, or in this case 'devil's toenails' or Gryphaea the fossil of an extinct oyster that lived in warm tropical Jurassic seas around 200 million years ago. The UK at that time would have been roughly where the Mediterranean is now due to the movement of the earths plates. No Tyrannosaurus Rex's were found unfortunately!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

things that make me happy #1

My children's drawings

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

Pablo Picasso

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Autumn adventures

An autumn walk with the boys to discover a secret entrance to a tunnel. The portal (pictured below) is where the disused Thames and Severn Canal, disappears underground for over two miles.

The tunnel was open between 1789 and 1910 and doesn't have a towpath, the horses were led over the top and the barges were pushed through the tunnel by legging, two people would lie on the barge and use their legs to propel the barge. It would take over an hour to push it all the way through. Now the only users of the tunnel are colonies of rare bats; Barbastelle, Noctule, Soprano & Common Pipistrelle, Brown Long Eared, Whiskered, Lesser Horseshoe and Natterer's.

Next to the portal is the Tunnel House pub, a lovely pub hidden in the Cotswold Countryside and a perfect place to end up after a walk or bike ride. It is surrounded by the most beautiful ancient oak trees dressed in their autumnal acorn plumage. 

The pub is lovely, packed with vintage signs, open fires and the more traditional Cotswold pub decor of a stuffed animal or two!

Even better is the humongous grounds, bordered by woodland and with rope swings and a gypsy caravan to entertain the boys, perfect for a sunny autumnal day. 

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

How do you measure a child's potential?

In each question, find the number that continues the series. 

Q. 41 
27     31     35     39     (?)

Q. 42
1       1       2       4       7     (?)

Q. 43
1      3       7       15       31       (?)

Three of these four words are given in code.
The codes are not written in the same order as the words and one code is missing. 

TEAM       FATE       SEAT       FAME
 4256           3625         1623

Q. 70 Find the code for the word FATE

Q. 71 Find the code for the word TEAS

Q. 72 Find the word that has the number code 1256

These are just some practice questions that we've been doing for the grammar school entrance test that my eldest son will be taking on Saturday. I struggle to answer them to be truthful, especially 80 questions in 50 minutes. I have very mixed emotions about this test. Firstly, I think all children should go to their nearest school regardless of ability and secondly, how do two 50 minute tests truly measure a child's potential? We're trying to stay nonchalant about the whole affair and not get swept up by other's worry and stress, but that's easier said than done right now!

Oh and answers to the questions below please - you have three minutes. 
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