Meal Planning Monday 28th July 2014

It’s Monday and I have no plans.. that hasn’t happened for a while! Well, I say no plans but I have been into town to do some shopping with the kids this morning.. a few kids magazines and some Lego later and I got what I actually went in for (wash stuff for me and hubby!) The kids are now playing in the garden so I have 5 minutes to write this weeks meal plan down before they come and ask me to get their scooters out of the shed!

Gordon is working nights this week so I have gone with mostly quick, easy meals.

Monday – Pizza, garlic bread

Tuesday – Macaroni Cheese

Wednesday – BBQ

Thursday – Satay, noodles

Friday – Pasta, lentil ragu

Saturday – Egg Fried Rice

Sunday – Quorn Roast dinner, mash, veg


Juniper Hall BioBlitz fun

Today we went to Juniper Hall in Dorking to take part in the BioBlitz event. We attended a couple of BioBlitz events last year and really enjoyed them so when I saw this was our only local one this year I knew we had to go!

We were amazingly organised this morning and arrived just a few minutes after it officially started so we began the day at the mammal trapping reveal. I’m not sure how many traps there were in total but six had animals in and all six were bank voles! The animals were placed in see-through bags and volunteers were found to hold them until they were all released together at the end. Thomas got to hold one of the bags and took his vole round to show everyone.

Juniper 1Once all the voles had been released we gathered with another group to go pond dipping. The original plan was to do this activity later in the day but the kids were keen so we went along. There are two “ponds” at Juniper Hall, but neither are ponds in the traditional sense. One is a built up tank, the best way I can think of to describe it is almost like a fish tank you see outside at garden centres that have aquatic departments, the other is a large water trough. We went to the water trough and the kids started dipping. We caught lots of newtlets and a couple of smooth newts, mayfly larva and midge larva and a couple of water beetles.

Juniper 2Once we managed to move the kids on from the pond we went to see what moths had been caught in the traps overnight. The moths that had been recorded were placed in specimen pots so everyone could see them, however Jasmine and Thomas had other ideas and had soon crawled under the table and were happily chatting to the guys still going through the traps!

Juniper 3Finally to round off the morning, we went on the meadow survey where we found and recorded several species of butterfly, grasshopper, cricket and small plant/field bugs.

Juniper 4By now we were all getting quite hot, tired and hungry so we found a shady spot in a  field and had our picnic, followed by an ice lolly. The kids spent some time playing with some outdoor toys/games that were available and it recharged us all enough to carry on for a bit longer!

Our first stop after lunch was the reptile & amphibian tent where we saw a couple of grass snakes, slow worms and a great crested newt. Jasmine managed to impress everyone by not only telling them that the slow worm was a leg-less lizard (apparently we were the first people today who knew that) but she even managed to identify that it was female!

And then it was back to the moths! The kids were really taken by the moths today and Jasmine and Thomas both got to hold a large selection .. as did I when I was passing them back and forth, and just from standing so close to the moth tent – you couldn’t help but have a few at a time land on you!

Juniper 5And finally, while waiting to Thomas and Jasmine to finish chatting to the moth guys I had a quick wander round and found a few other things to record…

Juniper 6
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Project 365 (2014) Week 30

Week 30#201.. We went to our friends house for a play and a BBQ. We had a really lovely time, even though the BBQ moved inside when it started raining and thundering!

#202.. Eastbourne. We had to go and help Gordon’s mum sort out some things before she moves house and after a few hours inside keeping themselves busy we took the kids to the pier and for a quick walk along the beach.

#203.. I spent quite a lot of time sewing today. I made ten beanbags in preparation for our HE Group sports day and I also made a start on the superhero capes the kids have asked me to make.

#204.. Sports Day. A very hot, hot sports day in the local park. All the kids joined in one or two races and had a good time.

#205.. At the Thursday HE Group, Thomas and Jasmine found some brambles at the back of the hall full of ripe blackberries. They decided to pick as many as possible and then set up a blackberry stall “selling free blackberries”! They did say they wanted money but I explained they couldn’t sell something they’d found for free!

#206.. We went to the community allotment in the morning and helped with some weeding and planting. When we got home, all in need of a shower, our shower broke! I managed to wash me and the kids down with a jug in the bath but I still felt hot and horrible so decided cooking at home wasn’t going to happen. We went to Frankie & Benny’s for dinner instead!

#207.. I had lots of plans for today but they all went out of the window when the shower broke. While Gordon fixed the shower the kids played out in the garden with their scooters and bubbles. When they got too hot they came in and played Lego. Thankfully as I type Gordon has fitted a new shower and while it isn’t finished it is usable.. so I’m going to try it out as soon as I hit “publish”!
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Alphabet Photography Project | K is for…


K is forAs a family we love kite flying; we probably have 10 kites between us! This photo was taken last year on Epson Downs. There wasn’t quite enough wind to fly the kites for long but we got them up a couple of times and had a great day.

Linking up with Podcast and the Alphabet Photography Project

Meal Planning Monday 21st July 2014

Oh dear, I have missed Monday by 20 minutes! So just a quick post now..

Here is our meal plan for this week:

Monday - Pizza

Tuesday – Eggy bread, spaghetti hoops, sausages, salad

Wednesday – Pasta with lentil ragu, garlic bread, salad

Thursday – Sausage rolls, new potatoes, veg

Friday/Saturday/Sunday – weather and activity dependent meal taken from Toad in the hole, macaroni cheese and a BBQ


Our Home Education Week | Surviving the Heat

Its been a bit hot this week hasn’t it! Even when it has rained or thundered it has still been hot and the thunder hasn’t freshened the air at all. We’ve spent plenty of time outside, but also plenty of time indoors when it’s all got too much for us. While we love the sun and being outside, sometimes when it is this hot it is actually nicer to spend some time indoors next to a fan!

Monday saw the last Forest School of this term. Both Jasmine and Thomas were keen to go, which was such a nice change from the last few weeks and made the day much better. As it was the last session the leader had set up a surprise for the children. She met a lady the week before who has a ferret and a pole cat and had arranged for her to come to the start of the session with the pole cat! The kids all loved it! They got to hold it and give it  little treat to eat too.

During the session they made clay models. I think the idea was for them to make a candle holder as most of the other children came out with a citronella candle but Thomas made a dragonfly model and Jasmine made a moth bowl?! Unfortunately Thomas broke his model in the car on the way home but this gave us the perfect opportunity to do some clay modelling of our own later in the week.

Tuesday was a fairly quiet day. We went to Hobbycraft to buy some ink and then made our quill pens from the feathers we found last week at Ladybower Reservoir. Jasmine did some great writing with her pen.

On Wednesday we went pond dipping at the ecology centre. You can read all about that here.

On Thursday I was planning on going to Twins Club in the morning but the kids had other ideas so I had to cancel. We got the clay out instead and spent the morning making models in the garden. Ben made a few models with his piece of clay and then went back inside to play with the trains but Jasmine and Thomas stayed out for over an hour modelling and they both made some wonderful models. Jasmine made a dog, a tree, a toadstool, a bowl with fruit in and more, and Thomas made a house, our garden, a tree, a black hole and more. They had great fun using the clay and I found it interesting seeing the difference in both their models and how much they enjoyed it since the last time we used clay. Last time Jasmine didn’t like touching wet clay as it made her hands dirty (coming from the girl who loves mud!) but this time she had no qualms with it at all.


On Thursday afternoon we went to one of our local HE groups.

Both Friday and Saturday were spent at home. On Friday we spent the morning painting our clay models and in the afternoon I got the paddling pool out, and on Saturday we spent the day inside playing, resting and relaxing. The kids did all have some time on Reading Eggs and Cbeebies games with me. Ben completed lesson 9 where he did really well reading some simple CVC words although he is still needed a lot of help as, even though he can blend perfectly he isn’t recognising groups of letters together as a word yet. Jasmine completed lesson 97 about vowels, which she found quite easy as she knows them already from watching Thomas! She also read a book. Thomas completed a Skills Bank lesson, a driving test and read a book.


Today (Sunday) we have spent the afternoon at a friends house and celebrated Moon Day with them.. it was 45 years ago today when man first landed on the moon! We played some space themed games, made small rockets with old film canisters and alka-seltzer tablets and had a BBQ in a thunderstorm, although we did move inside in the end!


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Project 365 (2014) Week 29

Week 29#194.. a quiet day after our very busy week last week. I can’t even remember what we did to be honest but I know it wasn’t much!

#195.. usual Monday afternoon at Richmond Park while Jasmine and Thomas are at Forest School. Ben and I went for a walk around the gardens at Penbroke Lodge and I took some photos of the butterflies and flowers. We also saw a mouse hiding in a hole underneath a bush!

#196.. We made a quill pen from a feather. Jasmine was fascinated and really enjoyed writing with it.

#197.. Pond dipping at the ecology centre.

#198.. On Monday at Forest School, J&T had made some clay models but Thomas broke his in the car on the way home. While we were buying ink for the quill pen on Tuesday we also bought some air drying clay and today we spent the morning in the garden modelling. They all made some wonderful models.

#199.. we spent the morning painting the clay models we made yesterday and then, being the hottest day of the year, there was only one thing for it and the afternoon was spent in the paddling pool! They loved it, although as the afternoon wore on they moved out of the pool and into the tuff spot?! I think it was because the tuff spot was warm and the paddling pool was mostly in the shade by late afternoon.

#200.. We’ve had another indoors day today. We all struggle with the heat and it has been so very hot. When the game of trains started causing arguements I suggested Jasmine came and did some Reading Eggs with me. Through the afternoon they all spent some time on it and so each had a few minutes on Cbeebies games too.
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Pond Dipping

Pond dipping.. one of the kids most favourite activities. On our first go at it, two years ago, we got the bug and it doesn’t matter how many times we do it, the kids always love it (well, so do the grown ups if I am being honest!)

On Wednesday we went to the local ecology centre with a couple of other home educating families. We took our nets and buckets and were looking forward to seeing what we could find. We’ve been pond dipping at the ecology centre lots of times over the last two years, but not since the beginning of spring this year so we were keen to see what had changed in that time.


The pond was full of life! We caught so much we had to empty the buckets a couple of times because they were getting too full!

We caught lots of fish, a tadpole, lesser and greater water boatmen, a great diving beetle, lots of damselfly larvae, two dragonfly larvae, water scorpions, pond skaters, pond snails, whirligig beetles and probably more I have forgotten.

pd2I think the kids could have stayed by the pond all day but after a couple of hours we decided to move on to try and see some of the other things the ecology centre has to offer. As we were packing up the nets one of the children came and told me they’d seem a stripy caterpillar. I went to have a look and between us we found around 20-30 Cinnabar moth caterpillars on Ragwort. They are so beautiful!

PD3We walked around the centre, looking for slow worms and grasshoppers. We didn’t see any slow worms but did see a few grasshoppers. Jasmine decided not to try and catch any though because she was keen to continue round to the our next stop. We were heading for the log pile to find newts and toads!

The kids were soon turning over logs and seeing what they could find underneath. They were quite disappointed not to find many newts but did find some toads. Luckily though, Gordon came to the rescue and he went off for a wander and came back having found the newts hiding place! This made the kids day when he showed them where at least 20 newts were hiding!

PD4At the end of the afternoon I think we all agreed that was our most successful trip to the ecology centre so far this year. Everyone had a really good time and it was lovely to see the kids all working together and sharing their knowledge of the animals we found.

Of course, never one to miss an opportunity, I snapped some of the other animals I saw along the way too..

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall