Monday, 3 August 2015

Book Sharing Monday, Amelia Rules - Super Heros

Petal picked this up on a whim from the library shop and my goodness me was I impressed! Great style, imaginative plotting, moving, sensitive look at big issues and how kids grapple with them such as kids with serious illness and conditions, fab line of up of believable, feisty characters, empowering, thought provoking and feel good. I couldn't have asked for a better book for one of my young daughters - if I had known about it before I certainly would have already bought it for her! We're definitely looking out for others in the series now.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

June round up

Well, 2015 definitely started with a more leisurely pace to it, then I blinked and it was the middle of June. Then I blinked again and it was July, then I blinked again and it's nearly the end of July!!!

June was extremely busy - I didn't even blog about the ballet show which was long ago now- and of course we were busy watering and netting and picking things at the allotment, and there was writing and editing and housework and - so yeah, half the year's gone already!

So, casting our collective minds back to June...

Roo's settled into school well, he's now just gone up a year - his school does this in June rather than September, which I think is quite a good idea - to get them bedded in nicely in their new year before the summer holidays.

The girls had their much anticipated ballet show - a big dress rehearsal on the Saturday and two performances on the Sunday which I thought was very well organised - not only was there plenty of room for parents (it would have been extremely squashy with only one performance) but it's always more fun to get to do it more than once and really, it went incredibly smoothly with only one weaper. Considering most children had at least one costume change (Petal had three!) and considering the number of children there (lots) and the age range (five to ten) I was impressed! I helped out and was on the door letting the children back out of the performing hall and back down to the changing room so that was exciting, and Papacrow, all the boys, Nana and Grandma all came and watched and thought it was lovely, so that was a success!

Petal, Dot and I saw Midsummer Night's Dream at the cinema of course, and we also got to Bateman's at last - Rudyard Kipling's Sussex home. This was a bit of mixed visit - positive over all but I'm not in a hurry to repeat it! It was NOT the easiest place in the world to find for a start. The staff were numerous, knowledgeable and welcoming but the place still had a 'best behaviour' vibe to it and the majority of the other visitors were nice quiet retired couples. The map could have been clearer about the length of the walks, how much of them were actually by the road and how much of the road had no pavement - eek! Still, the grounds were beautiful and the house was amazing. They were well prepared for younger visitors with a nice laminated informative sheet with things to spot in each room, though the guide in the study was sadly uninformed about theoretical maths - he asked the children to guess how many books there were in the room and one of them - probably Wig - answered 'a graham!' which we then had to explain :D We also went to the Redoubt, the Napoleonic coastal fort in Eastbourne. We've been before but a good while ago and they've done a lot since then - there were some great new exhibitions, we saw loads, learnt loads and really enjoyed it.

There was also plenty of tennis - both to play and also at the Ageon Women's tournament and Wimbledon of course, and we also followed the Women's Football World Cup.

We enjoyed our Cave Paintings and Prehistoric Art project and also read Lucy Fitch Perkin's Cave Twins, although she is a little didactic at times - I had to keep breaking off and explaining that it was written in the 1970's so was based on the archaeological knowledge and theories of the time, some of which are now a bit out dated, not to mention she makes sweeping statements of things she couldn't POSSIBLY know, like 'and that was the first time anyone said that to their child'. Still, we enjoyed it and the kids particularly liked the illustrations.

We got a new (to us) piano! Someone at Nana's church had died and left everything to one of their associations. No one wanted the piano which was smaller and nicer by far than the battered old one we had - I was dreading trying to get someone to move it for us as it had been a real struggle last time, but luckily I remembered the company that delivered our sofa, Rhino Removals - they had impressed me so much and it was simple, quick, easy, no hassles or arguments! There were delays here and there on the day but that's to be expected really, obviously they had other jobs. Curiously they found the newer piano heavier than the old one. The old one got taken down the stairs really quickly and left outside for the council to pick up but the new one they had to leave in the hall until they could get reinforcements. Amusingly, after the all the others' huffing and puffing, the new (huge) lad turned up and more or less picked it up with one finger and jogged it up the stairs! Anyway, it's in and it's lovely.

We had a good look at how we did table time, especially as Wig had begun to find it boring and was a bit resistant. Bizarrely what worked was bringing him and Fluff back into the kitchen and reverting to doing it all together, also getting some new resources and slightly increasing the written work. I say increasing, we were still getting done in an hour or two and had plenty of time to go to the park, allotment, etc. Papacrow and Roo were badly hit by hayfever but the rest of us were okay, thankfully.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Book Sharing Monday Milly Molly Mandy

I'm sure I've mentioned Milly Molly Mandy before as it's one of my all time favourites, but I thought I mention it again as it's become a regular read out loud at the end of table time and everyone is loving it! They're gentle and relaxing with interesting bits and bobs of social history and while there is often an obvious moral the text is charming enough not to feel bludgeoned.

Petal's favourite story so far is Milly Molly Mandy enjoys a visit when Little Friend Susan comes to stay, and Dot's is when they throw a party for everyone in the barn.

We do have one of the more modern copies with the new, colour illustrations but really, we all love Joyce Lancaster Brisley's original illustrations the best.

Friday, 3 July 2015

June Book Log


Murder Under the Sun by Agatha Christie

New to me -

have several on the go but didn't complete anything! been a LONG while since that's happened, so not sweating it, as ever, there's a LOT going on here.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Dear Cat

Dear Cat that ran out in front of my wheels today,

Here is your ninth life back, courtesy of my lightening fast reactions and well maintained brakes.

It comes with the ten years you knocked off my life.

Yours sincerely,


P.S. Please look twice next time. I can't spare any more nerve endings.

Monday, 22 June 2015

June Project: Prehistoric Art, Cave Paintings, Rock Art

From our shelves, first of all, this handy time line book.

Here's the relevant pages we've been using -

This absolute gem of a book we picked up for a quid in the library shop a while back and it is absolutely wonderful.

 This was also from the library shop I think, and is brilliant for slightly younger readers - packed with info in a simple, picture book presentation and rhyming text with heaps of illustration - just fab.

These we ordered from the library. The top right hand one is fascinating but a bit too specific (about aboriginal Australia). The other too are fab with tons of pictures. I have been reading out loud from bits of the text, particularly from the the Ice Age Art one - definitely a the highest level resource we're using. 

These two were from a Oxfam Bookshop haul and a couple of quid a piece - we've been going through them and picking out the relevant bits. Hoofie particularly likes The Book of Life for some reason!

Wig has been writing a great essay on it all and we also found a great documentary on youtube linking rock art to shaminstic trance experiences which was really interesting, and of course we'll be trying out some of the techniques ourselves!

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Happy Summer Solstice!

We celebrated the Summer Solstice today by working on the allotment - some much needed weeding was in order, Papacrow thinned out the carrots and we gave everything a good water.

Then later that afternoon I went to the cinema to see a live recording of Julie Taymor's Broadway production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Petal and Dot fancied it and came too.

It was lavish and gorgeous and thought provoking - David Hare was arresting and somewhat distracting as Oberon, spray painted even blacker than normal he stalked barefoot and topless round the stage highlighted in gold paint, and even sang - musical and magical. As a contrast, Tina Benko's Titania was stark white. The fairies were a ragged, Mad Max-esque wild Lost Boys band of highly talented children who danced and juddered and contorted. Roger Clark was a solid Duke Theseus, Okwui Okpokwasili a majestic Queen Hippolyta.

The Rude Mechanicals, a rag tag band of Detroit construction workers - were an utter joy. Max Casella swaggered through the part of Bottom with a witty assurance, Zachery Infante was a heavily Italian accented Frances Flute who raised goosebumps and tears with his performance as Thisbe as, at the end of the play within a play, he twisted it inside out and played it straight. Amazing.

And Puck. My goodness me, Puck. If you're not familiar with who Kathryn Hunter is, then she is well worth a google - in a long and illustrious stage career, she's played many Shakespeare parts including traditionally male ones such as Richard the Third and the Fool in King Lear, and was also Arabella Fig in the Harry Potter films. She was wonderful - in a baggy Chaplin-esque get up including bowler hat and white face clown make up she flew, she capered, she scampered around the stage and up and round David Harewood, contorting her body and bringing t a really alien, otherworldly element to Puck's chaos and mischief.

The setting, sort of contemporary 1920s crossed with quasi Elizabethian, was interesting, the use of blacked out puppteer style stage workers to manipulate the bamboo poled forest and enable the little fairies to fly worked brilliantly, the use of sheets and projected images was also really good. There was good, picturesque wire work by Puck, Oberon and Titania, platforms and hammocks that raised and lowered, trapdoors and a lowered pit section that was intelligently utilised. The incidental music was a raucous mash up of 1920's vaudville and classic circus, with a raucous big band feel and worked very well.

It had a slightly sticky start for me. Partly the text - I always forget how deeply misogynistic Theseus and Hermia's father are in the first scene - partly the male actors seemed to fall into the old 'stamp and shout to be dramatic' trap, but Lilly Englert was marvellously natural and, later on, really quite funny as Hermia and once we were off with the story proper I was swept along and suitably enthralled. Jake Horowitz was Lysander and Zack Appleman was Demitrius. I took a little while to warm up to them but then was utterly convinced - the pillow fight scene was just genius! Mandy Masden was an inspired casting as Helena and really very good indeed. The chemistry between all the four of them was good and believable.

I enjoyed it immensly, and Petal and Dot enjoyed their first Shakespeare!

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