Tag Archives: Holidays

Easter holidays

I have been erratic as usual in blogging what we have been up to, which often happens when we are too busy doing it to write about it.  I am really tired at the moment, and have been going to bed as soon as the children finally settle, but I have made myself stay up tonight in an attempt to catch up.  The holidays started with a relaxing and fun Easter weekend at Granny and Grandpa’s.  The children enjoyed lots of arts and crafts, cooking and playing, and I enjoyed having time to blog about it all – a one to one ratio is very civilised!  Since then life has been a little more hectic.  I had two days at home, mainly occupied with washing and packing before setting off annual trip to Butlins in Minehead for Spring Harvest.  It is a… well I’m not sure how to describe it… Christian holiday/ conference type thing.  I’m sure there’s a better way of putting it.  We are the group organisers for our church, and we enjoyed spending time with the other families in our group, as well as meeting new people.

Our Spring Harvest highlights this year:

  • soft play and Bob the Builder world – we spent a lot of time there, as always
  • the children settled in well to their group activities in the mornings, and had a lot of fun
  • I managed to attend four of the adult sessions this time – a significant improvement on my previous best, and a testimony to the fact that life is getting easier as the kids get older (though that did make me a bit sad – it was weird being at Spring Harvest without a little baby)
  • the Big Start in the big top – an all-age introduction to the day’s theme
  • the evening all-age worship – a very chilled out end to the day
  • having two extra children with us for 24 hours while their parents’ drove home (four hours each way) for their eldest son’s confirmation.  This was a lot of fun, and also a highlight because it felt like quite an achievement that it all went so smoothly, and it was nice to be able to help our friends out.  Six children? Easy!
  • some evening socialising with the other parents (thanks to Supergirl) and daily chats over coffee
  • swimming (for the children) and not swimming (definitely a highlight for me and thanks – again – to Supergirl.  I love swimming but not the kind that involves standing at the bottom of slides getting cold and hoping your children will emerge safely.)
  • setting foot on the beach (for about 15 minutes, in between all the other things the children wanted to do – there is never enough time to fit everything in!)
  • feeling proud of Owl who had a little more freedom to explore this time, in the Skyline where the book stall and exhibition stands were, and was very responsible about coming back when he said he would (usually only about 5 minutes at a time, but it was a good experience for him.)
  • twinning our toilets (I kid you not)
  • Tiddler’s birthday, which was the last full day.  All four children were extremely lucky to be chosen to dance onstage in the final Big Start in the morning (the link is to someone’s video from Week 1 and we were there in Week 2 but it gives you the idea!)  Later on, to celebrate Tiddler’s birthday we had lunch with three other families (19 of us in total) in one of the restaurants on site.  And for me another highlight of the day was catching up, briefly, with my lovely friend (Owl’s godmother) who came for the day and joined us at the all-age worship in the evening.

I always come back from Spring Harvest feeling tired but happy, and inspired about something new.  This time I got most excited by a conversation with others from our church about the idea of starting a “messy church” service, which we have been wanting to do for a while.  It was good to discover that the others liked the idea too!

Since then, we have had a quiet few days at home, trying to catch up with laundry and housework, but also having fun with the children and enjoying unstructured time before the term-time routines start up again.  They have played with their trains and cars, Lego and puzzles, and set up a shop selling toy food.  We have enjoyed time together drawing, colouring and working on sticker and activity books, and playing with playdough.  Monkey, Rabbit and Tiddler made food, and Owl made a red planet with a space police prison on it (apparently this is based on the Lego Clutch Powers movie!)

On our way to and from Spring Harvest we drove past Stonehenge, and the children drew some great pictures for our Prehistory project when we got home.

We have also started a new project based on a Friends and Heroes DVD which we bought at Spring Harvest, along with a curriculum pack for home educators.  And today we have been making the most of the sunshine with a whole afternoon of messy play in the garden, involving rice, split peas, flour, shaving foam and water.  I really need to blog that separately I think.  Tiddler hasn’t been very well for the last few days, but he seems to be getting better and he really enjoyed playing in the garden today.  I hope Spring is finally here!

Summer Holidays

This summer seems to have gone by in a bit of a blur as we have been so busy.  I usually enjoy the holidays as many of our term-time activities stop and we have more free time to play with, but it’s been a bit different this year.  The first part of the holidays was dominated by our kitchen being redone, which was very stressful, though the results are definitely worth it.  What with that and a couple of weeks of holiday clubs (not altogether successful), there wasn’t much time to relax.   From the middle of August, things improved as Suburban dad had two weeks holiday, of which we spent a week at home and a week at my parents’ house.

We did our annual day trip to France which is always good fun, and considerably cheaper and easier than many other family days out.  The children love going on the ferry, and we bring a breakfast picnic (the remains of which are eaten on the way home for supper!)  This year we went to Wissant, a village just south of Calais, and we spent the morning on the beach.  We had a late lunch in a restaurant then drove back to Calais just in time for a supermarket sweep of Carrefour before getting back on the ferry.

We went swimming twice which is something we seem to find ridiculously difficult to fit into our term-time schedule.  When the children are older, I’ll be able to take them myself but for now it takes both of us to do it, and it’s hard to find the time.  The children loved it of course, and we have good intentions of trying to go more often, but in case we don’t I have booked them all in for lessons (to add to the logistical nightmare that is next term’s schedule.)  It’s only taken me a year since the local swimming pool closed to find an alternative.

Another easy family day out was the Cotswold Farm Park.  We went there a lot when the big boys were little, and I wanted to give the little ones the same opportunity as well.  They all enjoyed it, especially the sandpit, climbing frames, ride-on tractors and bouncy pillows.  They quite liked the animals too!  We watched a cow being milked, bottle fed some goat kids, and fed grass pellets to some of the other animals.  I suppose it is a little bit commercial but as these things go it is pretty good.  I didn’t know how lucky I was growing up with grandparents who owned a farm.  I can’t give the same experience to my children, but the farm park is better than nothing.  Owl has just come to me now and asked “If a cow is grown up when it is 8, is it a teenager when it is 6?”  So he remembered something from the milking talk!

Also this summer we finally took the children to Thomas Land at Drayton Manor.  It was much less stressful than I imagined and I wished I had taken the big boys there when they were at the height of their Thomas phase a couple of years ago.  However they enjoyed it anyway and so did the little ones, so it was a good time to go as it appealed to all four of them.  It felt more organised than some theme parks and though it was busy it was somehow manageable.  There were plenty of rides that all four could go on, as well as a few that just the big three did with daddy.  They went on a rollercoaster (albeit a fairly small one) for the first time and all enjoyed it.  Owl and Rabbit are very keen to do it again.  Monkey is not so sure but is pleased that he did it!

We spent a lovely peaceful morning at the Rollright stones near Long Compton on the Oxfordshire/ Warwickshire border.  It is a complex of three Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments, called the King’s Men, the King’s Stone and the Whispering Knights.


Part of the King’s Men stone circle

We also went to Warwick Castle which was alright, but a bit too much of a Merlin “attraction” for my liking.  I suppose I should have seen it as a warning sign that the website describes it as Britain’s “Ultimate” Castle.  We saw (through the crowds) eagles and jousting, and the firing of the trebuchet which was amazing, and looked around the state rooms.  But it was cold and wet and we had optimistically gone without coats.  The little ones had had enough by mid afternoon so we decided to leave, which upset Owl who still wanted to see more.  So for a little while no-one was happy.  But then we called in on the excellent Toy Shop in Moreton-in-Marsh and suddenly everyone was happy!

Much more to our taste was Chastleton, a small National Trust property.   I love the description from the website: “With virtually no intrusion from the 21st century, this fascinating place exudes an informal and timeless atmosphere in a gloriously unspoilt setting. There is no shop or tea-room, so you can truly believe you have stepped back in time.”  And even better, the church next door have spotted this gap in the market so we got tea and cake after all.

We spent the Bank Holiday weekend at home, had a delicious lunch out at an Italian restaurant and visited our local Environmental fair.  After all that excitement we needed a quiet week at home, and it has been good for us all.  We have been trying to sort our house out and get rid of stuff (well we are always trying to do that, but recently with a bit more success, I would say, although there’s a lot still to do.)  All in all it has been a good summer, if a little busy, but now I am looking forward to settling back into our term-time rhythm and enjoying Autumn, my favourite season.