Saturday, 20 December 2008

The National Trust do it again

Anyone will tell you that I'm a big fan of the NT. I love it. I mean you pay your £85 each year and then you don't have to pay for another family day out for the whole annum. Wow, that is good value; it cost dh over that amount to take the boys to Legoland for one visit. We are even at the point now where we book our holidays by looking at the NT map. On a recent mini break to Wales we managed to visit a different National Trust property for four days running. And each of them was completely unique and had different things to attract and engage the children. So, yes, I do think rather highly of the old NT.

Well today the NT has gone up a notch even in my estimation. Why? Santa. In Birmingham city centre today, people were queuing for two hours to see the big man in red. Last year it cost £3.50 for a cheapie plastic toy and then extra for a photo. I know, I was one of the poor suckers who paid - yes, even for the photo. Santa wasn't even particularly warm, and you were in and out in less than 2 minutes; a Christmas conveyor belt, if you like. So this year, having reduced funds yet still wanting some of that Christmas magic for the boys (even if they know it's all a rather wonderful game) I opted for the National Trust version.

I don't know what I expected. For £2 per child, which was the cost, I don't think I really expected very much at all. How wrong could I be. Of course, if we'd been non-members it would have cost much more but as fully paid up chaps and chapesses we got into the property for free and just had to hand over the princely sum of £4 for our two bigger boys to see St Nick. This is what we got:

  1. We saw the deer being fed in the deer park. This was wonderful. They came bounding over the ridge of the hill, following a tractor which intermittently dispersed food. It was like being on the Serengetti plain - except much colder I suspect.

  2. A free Christmas trail around the beautiful festivally adorned house, including lots of Christmas information bulletins - very educational.

  3. A free performance of Carols by a childrens choir in period costume.

  4. A visit to Santa. We queued for about 20 minutes before entering through a fur coat laden wardrobe (very Narnia) into Santa's grotto. He was a fantastic Santa. Very warm and engaging. He asked the children lots of questions and seemed genuinely interested in them.

  5. A free photo opportunity with SC.

  6. A lovely selection of small wooden toys to choose from.

It was great. Totally uncommercial and fantastic value. I feel a Christmas tradition coming on. Long live the National Trust.


Thursday, 18 December 2008



Hello. Back from London, which was lovely as usual. Loved perusing the shop windows on Oxford Street and seeing Selfriges' big red guy in a bumper car - very amusing. Spent a grand total of £7 - had to buy William a new hat since he lost his en route. £7 for a baby hat!!!!! And that was the cheapest. They had baby socks for £20. How the other half live, eh?! Carols in Trafalgar Square were wonderful. And we had a lovely meal in Bella Italia courtesy of some gift vouchers and 20% off from our family railcard - the meal cost £1.40. We are such cheapskates, you know. Will post more and add photos - finally - some time soon. Unfortunately the baby is crying so I must go and sort him out.

Friday, 12 December 2008

The Zack

Despite my wanting to play down Santa and focus more on the nativity this year, my middlest is totally obsessed by the big man in red. He has taken to slinging the Thomas Tank bean bag over his shoulder and assuming the role of SC. 'I am Santa and this is my Zack. It is full of sweets and presents and a Christmas tree; possibly it is red.' The zack is now a beloved family icon, symbolising the childish fun and innocence of a three year old's Christmas. Of course I want him to focus his mind on Jesus as we approach Christmas, but I cannot squash such wonderful imagination. I'd quite like a zack myself tbh.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

A good day

A great day today. We made Christmas cards, some rather excellent Joseph dream coats for our Jesse tree and a fabulous prayer chain out of old Christmas cards. We watched The Grinch, sang carols, ate some rather fabulous Spiced Parsnip and Pear soup and made a spiced house cake ready to decorate tomorrow. I washed some clothes and nappies and managed a sinkful of washing up. However, the house is still a mess and Edward has peeled wallpaper off in the hallway. Somehow, despite his many ways of driving me absolutely crazy, I can never be mad with him. He's just too cute!
Will upload photos soon.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Portsmouth and the Mary Rose

We had a lovely time yesterday visiting the Mary Rose and both HMS Victory and Warrior. Going to see the rescued hull of the MR was awesome. To think that she had been the warship of Henry VIII and had lain underwater for hundreds of years. Even my boisterous boys were awestruck. They listened to their audio guides perfectly and seemed totally captivated. The museum was very interesting too, with all the artifacts that had been found on board. We also enjoyed Victory, with its tales of Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar. But by the time we got to see Warrior we were a tired bunch who were all warshipped out, so we probably didn't do it justice. Would definitely go back, but next time for a weekend as there was just so much to see. We think we'd like to go back in 2011 when the new Mary Rose museum opens. Hope Travelodge has some £9 room rates then. Lol.
One wierd thing, though; my eldest thinks that Horatio Nelson looks like Adolf Hitler????????????
Now trying to catch up with the Jesse Tree and Jotham's Journey from when we were away.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Friday Feeling

Today I had to edit the church magazine so the boys had a day in church, playing with the girls from the ministerial family. Mag is now published. Hurrah. We are now packing up to go off to Portsmouth to visit the Mary Rose as part of our Tudor project. Will report back with pictures and details when we return. Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Ice Skating

My boys went ice skating today and my little one managed to skate on his own without help. How very exciting; I was very proud. We also had a little Christmas party with food. And the guys there are such a lovely bunch of people.
Well, dinner will not prepare itself.
Jo x

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

The Middlest Wrote his Name

Wow !!!! My middle son aged 3 wrote his name today. I am sooooooooooo proud. He was making some letter type markings and said he was writing his name so I wrote it down for him and said I was writing his name too. And he copied it!!!!!!!!!!! I don't have any intention of teaching him to read/write for quite some time so I am flabberghasted. And very pleased.

Moments like this make home schooling worthwhile.


We are trying to have a mass Lego tidy in ds1's bedroom but it is not going so well. Ds 2 keeps interfering and the baby has hurricane force wind and won't be put down. Work went well this morning. We finished off painting the photo frames to give to rellies as gifts. We read the Grinch. We read about the angel's visit to Mary and conceived appropriate artistic decorations. We made a lovely globe out of a paper plate to decorate our Jesse tree. We have visitors at 5pm and the house is a mess. But baby is still whingy. What to do?!


Monday, 1 December 2008

Today was the day that we ventured out into our local park to find branches for our Jesse tree. Actually we should've done it on Saturday but you know what it is when life takes over. I am very pleased with the result and will post pictures as the decorations begin to take shape. In the meantime, please enjoy these pics of the boys on their Jesse tree walk.
Devotions were better today. We read the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah from Luke and then day two of Jotham's Journey. They actually listened both times. We didn't do any other formal work due to the mammoth task of walking around the lake to collect branches. It was beautiful but freezing cold and Edward moved at a speed rather less than a snail's pace. It took most of the morning. We then had lunch at a friend's and did some shopping on the way home.My Christmas gift making plans are way behind. Heeeelllllp!!Jo

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Advent is here at last.

Yay hay. We finally got to light our first advent candle and read the first chapter of Jotham's Journey. The boys listened in a reasonably acceptable manner anf G lit the candle without sustaining any burns. And then it was time to decorate the tree. Ds 1 was a little more attentive in his efforts but ds2 put two decorations on and then ran off to play. The baby cried alot. I a sorely disappointed. All my ideas of making wonderful, meaningful Christmas memories are falling by the wayside. I hope for better tomorrow, when we will search out a branch for our Jesse tree. I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Not a good day today. Went to a Christian home ed meeting with the boys and they literally bounced off the walls. Feeling rather ineffective as a parent. Why does life have to be so complicated? And why do other people's children always seem so perfect? One very lovely mum complained to me about the lack of behavioural standards at a secular home ed group. Bet she enjoyed spending time with my guys!!!!!!!!!!! I feel like a terrible Christian; surely if I were half decent my kids would be of the cherub faced, hymn singing, craft enthusing, sitting nicely brigade. Instead, after being chastened for some high up, danger of falling shannanigans, my middlest proudly announced that actually mummy it didn't matter 'cos he is Superman and if he fell he would just fly back up. AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! Not just cheeky but worldly too; excommunicate us now!

Monday, 27 October 2008

Hello and welcome.

Just wanted to say hello to all you people out there who are probably not going to read this. The purpose of this blog is to keep in touch with rellies, reflect on the meaningfulness or otherwiseness of my life and doings, and gaze at my navel. Or something. Enjoy.
P.S. Just thought I'd add a nice pic of my eldest and youngest just for pretty.