A visit to the British Wildlife Centre

Yesterday we spent a few hours at the British Wildlife Centre. We have been a few times before, but I don’t think we have visited for about a year now so the kids were very excited about going. They remembered what animals are there and all had a “must see.”

Our first stop was the the Barn and the Hedgerow, where we saw the rats, house mice, fox and rabbits. Everything else must have been asleep!

A1The red squirrel walk through was next. I remember the first time we ever went through this area (a few years ago) and we saw loads of gorgeous red squirrels, but the last couple of times we’ve been lucky to see one so I had my fingers crossed we’d see something as the kids really do love seeing these beautiful animals. And I guess we had a bit of luck yesterday because we saw two! And a couple of Muntjac deer.

A2After the red squirrels we went to see one of my favourite animals.. the snakes! We saw three adders yesterday, the most we’ve seen there before! And we saw a young one too, small and very inquisitive.

A3We ate our lunch in the picnic area and had a nice surprise when we saw they have built a new play area with lots of animal themed things to do. The kids particularly enjoyed the badger set.. they love any type of tunnel they can play in!

A4We finished lunch just in time to wander over to The Dell for the hedgehog talk, followed by an ice cream as we walked past the owls and along the wetland boardwalk. Then we walked past the otters, saw the wild cats, didn’t see the water vole who was hiding all day!, and through the nocturnal house and badger set. We ended our visit with the badger talk, which includes feeding the other mustelids (stoats, weasels, mink, pole cats).


Meal Planning Monday 3rd August 2015

While I remember and before it is too late, here is our meal plan for this week:

Monday  – Nacho topped bean stew

Tuesday – Quorn burgers, roast new potatoes, roast veg (or BBQ if the weather is nice)

Wednesday – Spaghetti, lentil ragu, garlic bread

Thursday – Quorn korma

Friday – Jacket potato, lentil ragu

Saturday – Pasta crumble

Sunday – Quorn roast dinner


The weekend

Oh, I thought I’d only missed a day or two of blogging.. turns out I have missed four! Well, in fairness we didn’t really do much over the weekend at all. Friday was Jasmine’s first full day back at home so I wanted to take it easy, expecting her to be really tired. Surprisingly, she wasn’t too bad at all and seems to have recovered much quicker than I remember doing as a child (and an Guider running Pack Holidays actually!)

The kids divided their time between Lego and playing outside. The only thing to note really is that I finally got round to bringing some caterpillars inside. I have been meaning to buy the Painted Lady ones from InsectLore for months but never actually got round to it, and we now have hundreds of Large White caterpillars on the Nasturtium in the garden so we’ve gone with the free option of raising some of those instead! I put a large leaf full of caterpillars in a pot of water covered with plasticine (so the caterpillars don’t drown) inside our butterfly net. I know we won’t be able to keep them all inside (they eat a lot!) but thought we’d get a few days from them before having to release some back out.


Saturday and Sunday were even quieter days and the kids mostly played inside with Lego, with a bit of time spent in the garden. The caterpillars got some new leaves on Sunday and ate and grew what seems like non-stop!

This morning the caterpillars had eaten and grown so much we realised the time had already come to put some of them back outside.. a lot sooner than we had anticipated! We released most of them, keeping only 16 in our net.

W2And then we spent the day at the British Wildlife Centre, but I am going to blog that separately.

From four back to five

Yesterday the boys seemed much happier about Jasmine not being at home and got on with playing quite nicely. It was still noticeable that they needed much more input from me and Gordon than is required when Jasmine is around. It has been interesting to see how they dealt with a missing sibling. But bedtime on Tuesday went much better than I anticipated.. Thomas only mentioned once that he was in the bedroom by himself and after being reassured that I would stay upstairs as normal he went quiet very quickly.

Yesterday morning we made separate trips to different shops. I took Ben to the post office to post my old iPhone to my mum while Gordon and Thomas went to Asda to buy laundry powder. Ben didn’t stop talking for the entire trip but he was happy to come with me so I treated him to a sweet on the way home! After lunch we took the boys and their bikes to Nonsuch Park. We had been wondering about going somewhere different but Thomas started talking about dogs again so we decided, after the success of last time, we should stick with dog-free for a while and Nonsuch has some great dog-free fields that they can ride in. We also had a little stop by a pond that has shrunk to about a quarter of the size it was when we last saw it! All of the boys had a good time clambering on the branches to reach different “islands”.


Back at home and we watched more new TV.. Lego Atlantis and Lego Marvel Superheroes, both from Amazon. Having never used our Prime Instant Video before I think I am beginning to wonder why! It has some great stuff for the kids on it!

Today started lazily for everyone except me. I was up at least an hour before everyone else so got some tidying done before settling down with my Kindle to read in peace :-)

After breakfast I walked a very long way round to Tesco to pick up a couple of bits while trying to get my 10,000 steps in as I knew once Jasmine was home we wouldn’t be doing anything much at all. While I was gone the boys and Gordon did some Lego building and playing. I also picked up some Lego Ninjago T-Shirts from Tesco.. three of them, one for each child. Despite what Tesco think (T-Shirts in the “boys” section), Jasmine loves Ninjago as much as the boys.

(as a note, when I showed it to her once she was home she did immediately ask “is it a boys T-Shirt?” My response, “No, it is a Ninjago T-Shirt”)

At 3pm we collected Jasmine. She happily reported she’d had a great time, didn’t miss us and wished she could stay longer!! From a girl who has never been away before, or indeed go to school and therefore used to being away from us for long days, I think that shows she is pretty amazing!

She wasn’t as tired as I thought she would be on arriving home and was happy to tell us all about it and play with the boys. All the Brownies had been given a copy of The Borrowers, which was their theme for the 2 days they were away and when I looked inside Jasmine’s I saw the note.. awarded to Jasmine for being the best moth catcher! Good to see she was the same on pack holiday as she is at home!


By 7pm however, she was showing signs of needing her bed so we read stories with her while the boys tidied upstairs and by 8pm she was tucked up. She told me that the bed on pack holiday wasn’t as comfy as her bed at home so I think she’ll sleep well tonight!




This morning we took Jasmine to her first ever Brownie Pack Holiday! It is her first sleepover, her first time sleeping anywhere we are not, the first time we’ve been apart from each other for more than a few hours. It is strange!

She has been nervously looking forward to this day for weeks.. planning which of her (hundreds of) cuddly toys to take, asking me what it will be like, telling her brothers all the things she is looking forward to doing while she is there. And this morning, although she did tell me she was a bit nervous, she was quite obviously very excited too!

She packed her own bag – she had to in order to get her badge. She narrowed her cuddly toy choice down to two so I let her take both! She made sure she had her “pompom friend” (a pompom with googly eyes that we made a while ago and that she says will remind her of home). I reminded her to try and get at least some sleep! And that was it.. we drove there, had a look round and said our goodbyes. She gave Thomas the biggest hug, it was very sweet. I think he will miss her a lot. I’m not sure how much she’ll miss him! She’ll be too busy having a great time!

PH1The previous couple of days had been spent practising getting in and out of the sleeping bag and learning how to roll it up and pack it away .. she needs to do this too for her badge – and great fun was had with this job!

PH2Sunday and Monday also saw lots of Lego play – Thomas is rebuilding his Lego City Arctic collection -, some Hudl time with Angry Birds Star Wars, and plasticine modelling. Ben and I also stripped the lavender flowers from the stems as it was dropping all over the floor.


And back to today, while Jasmine’s milestone was going away with Brownies the boys had their own and agreed to watch Jurassic Park! They’ve never been film fans before and we’ve always struggled to get them to watch anything new really. But recently they’ve been branching out and we’ve finally moved away from Cbeebies and NickJnr to CBBC and CN. Ninjago has become the new favourite thing to watch and they are finally realising that most TV and films are not scary! So as we’ve been talking about the new Jurassic World film (as Gordon and I would like to see it) they suddenly decided they would like to watch Jurassic Park, so we jumped at the chance! And they loved it :-)


Meal Planning Monday 27th July 2015

It’s a strange week this week. Jasmine is going on Brownie Pack Holiday tomorrow until Thursday.. the first time any of the kids have been away from home! While I know she will have a great time, it is going to be strange without her here. It is also going to mean we need to have a pretty quiet weekend, because I am sure she’ll need time to recover and catch up on sleep once she is home!

Meals wise, well today has been a bit random anyway as I planned to eat whatever I could find in the cupboard (end of the month feeling!) but then the offer of pizza came up so we took that instead! Jasmine had chosen Thursday’s meal as that’s her first day back home, and the boys chose for Tuesday. So the rest of the week looks like this:

Tuesday – Taco’s

Wednesday – Macaroni cheese, garlic bread

Thursday – Sausage rolls, potato waffles, beans, veg

Friday – Quorn Sausage Paella

Saturday – Pasta, hidden veg sauce, quorn hotdogs, garlic bread

Sunday – Cottage Pie


Rain and lavender picking

I began to wonder at several points yesterday whether we’d been transported to Autumn. It was so wet!

Our day started off slowly and we had a late breakfast, pushing everything else back as well. I made bread and everyone else kept themselves occupied until lunch time. After lunch we decided to pop into Sutton for a few bits and to check out phone contracts from various providers. Gordon’s phone broke a few days ago and after days of research we had decided the cheapest way of getting him a phone is to go onto contract. We’ve both avoided having a phone contract for a few years now because we don’t use our phones enough to justify the cost really, but mobile phones are so expensive to buy second hand now we can no longer do that either! So, as much as we don’t like the idea of committing to a long term contract, it seems to be the only way we can do it.

So after we’d done a bit of shopping in town we nipped into the O2 shop. While Gordon was chatting to a member of staff I set the kids up on the display phones, on the calculator! We weren’t in the shop for long and this kept the kids occupied wondefully. After a few minutes we realised we weren’t going to get the price we needed with O2 so we decided to go to Tesco instead.

Again I set the kids up on the display phones while we sorted out our new contracts and got our new phones (yep, me too! My phone wasn’t broken but it is old and if we have two phones on one account with Tesco we get additional benefits!) It took so long to set everything up the kids moved away from the calculator and started playing games on the display handsets! They loved it! And of course now we have been asked for Star Wars Angry Birds on the Hudl at home too!

I do find it fascinating that even though I limit computer screen and games time at home (we can go days, even weeks, without the kids even asking to play games on a screen) they are almost experts at playing new games when they need to be!

Today was a much brighter day. The sun has been shining and it has felt much more like summer – although as I type this I am wearing a jumper as it is still a bit chilly!

Another late start to the day for everyone except me (who was up and out walking at 7.15am), we somehow still managed to have a picnic packed and be on the bus with friends by 11.30am going to a lavender pyo harvest at local allotments. It was a lovely day for the harvest and we picked a good size bunch of lavender. We enjoyed our picnic in the sun and the kids got cake and candy floss too.

Carshalton lavenderAfter lavender picking we came home and the kids played Octonauts for a bit and then we all had a game of Junior Monopoly, which didn’t end well unfortunately when Thomas lost. He is getting better though and within five minutes he had calmed down and was asking to play Trivial Pursuit!


Wednesday and Thursday

Well, neither yesterday or today ended up going exactly to plan!

Yesterday morning Thomas asked to do some Maths from his new workbook so once all the morning jobs were done we sat down and he completed one page and the matching “test paper” (at his request.) We did the first page of the workbook, on place value, and he whizzed through it, and got all the test questions correct in record time :-) While we were doing this Jasmine and Ben were playing “computers” with the magnetic drawing board.. where Jasmine draws a picture and pretends it is a computer game.

Once he had finished the maths Thomas asked for the new Meccano set we got at the charity shop and he set about building that. Ben got the plastic Meccano out too so soon enough they were all building.

After lunch was their last forest school session of this term but just as we were about to leave we heard water gushing from somewhere, and a quick look determined the overflow from the toilet was pouring water all over our back lean to and the garden. The lean to isn’t built of the strongest material and so the water was also pouring inside! A quick phone call to Gordon was made and he told me how to turn the water off. We made it to forest school just in time and I ignored the problem while I went for a walk!

Back at home after forest school I turned the water back on and filled as many containers and bottles as I could find with enough water to last the rest of the day, then turned the water off again. It was an interesting end to the day, washing faces and cleaning teeth using cold water from a jug but we managed it!

Thomas also finished the Meccano while watching TV and we finished the first Beast Quest story.

22-1Today started with water! Gordon managed to fix the problem when he got home from work late last night. But the kids all woke pretty early (for them) so the day started off quite fraught with tired children and tired daddy!

This morning saw more Meccano building and Lego play. We were going to go to our home education group this afternoon but the kids were arguing quite a lot by lunch time so I decided I couldn’t face taking them there and that we should go out somewhere else instead! We went to the library and signed up for the summer reading challenge and then stopped off at a local playground on the way home.

We actually had a great time at the library. It can go either way with my 3 but today there was plenty to keep them all occupied. They started off doing the record breakers treasure hunt (looking for numbered pictures stuck up around the children’s library) and then we found a few books to check out – A Ninjago comic book, a Thomas the Tank Engine book, two Dr Seuss books, a Beast Quest book and Where’s Wally. By bed time this evening Thomas had read the Ninjago book, one Dr Seuss book and is half way through the other! Jasmine has read Dr Seuss’ Ten Apples Up On Top all by herself :-) She is also really enjoying Where’s Wally .. I knew she would as she is really very observant.

We are back to Narnia as the bedtime story.. book 6 The Silver Chair.

Playground and Nerf

Yesterday and today have both been fairly easygoing days. Yesterday started with lots of Lego play and all three kids were busily occupied creating a beach scene on their Lego table. There were, of course, lots of spaceships and ninja’s also involved!

After lunch we walked to a local playground to meet some friends. The playground was pretty busy when we arrived as a lot of the local schools broke up for the summer at lunch time yesterday, so they had all headed there too! The kids had a great couple of hours playing (ninjago again i think) while the adults chatted and took it in turns to go to the shops. I walked over to the charity shop with my friend (leaving Gordon watching the kids) and picked up a chemistry set which looks unused, a brand new Meccano set and a games compendium which will be perfect for taking on holiday, all for £10!

The rest of the day was spent playing with Lego and watching Lego Ninjago (definite theme there!)

Today started much the same way (Lego), but after lunch we needed to go shopping for a couple of bits in town. The kids all chose a workbook in Wilkinsons so maybe we’ll do some table work over the next few days, or maybe they’ll just gather dust on the shelf like the rest 😉

Back at home and they asked for their Nerf guns so we had a Nerf session in the garden. Gordon put some targets up round the garden and that kept them occupied for a short while but not very long, so I suggested a tin can challenge. They all liked the idea and I then realised we didn’t actually have any tin cans! Luckily Gordon came up with the great idea of using plastic flowerpots and he stacked them on the swing for the kids to knock down! They loved this and spent quite a while shooting the target. We also changed it round a bit and put a rubber duck toy on the top for them to try and knock off!

1After Nerfing had finished the boys came inside and watched TV but Jasmine stayed in the garden for a bit longer looking after her bug houses. Eventually she did come in too and they all watched Cartoon Network and CBBC until dinner.


Meal Planning Monday 20th July 2015

I forgot to blog my meal plan again last week. So it’s a good job I’ve remembered today!

We are still enjoying our summer menu.. lots of pasta, salads and BBQ’s, and lots of eating outside for both lunch and dinner. We’ve eaten in the garden so much in fact that our poor old fold-up camping table is giving up on us! Our old next door neighbour gave it to us before we moved house (it had been in his garage for years gathering dust) so it had already seen better days when we got it, but every time we use it now we sit in fear of it falling down with us and the food following it! I think we are going to have to find a new one before long!

This week the weather looks warm but not especially dry so maybe our table will get a break.. anyway, here is what we are eating (inside or out!)

Monday – Quorn hotdogs, scrambled egg, potato wedges, beans

Tuesday – Quorn tikka masala, rice

Wednesday – Pasta crumble, garlic bread

Thursday – Coconut dahl, pitta

Friday – Sausage casserole

Saturday – Spaghetti bolognese, garlic bread

Sunday – Roast dinner