So, Fri 3rd September was Ypres, which still deserves a post of its own, and might even get one eventually…

The weekend was spent recovering – fortunately no music school yet.

On Monday the boys spent an unexpectedly free morning (A’s ballet not having yet started) canoeing, which they absolutely loved, and then we dashed back so that I could get to the first session of a breastfeeding peer support course I am taking this term. A is in the creche and the others too old for it, but allowed to sit quietly in the same room and get on with work or reading 🙂 It looks like being a good course (equivalent to GCSE, apparently, so with a fair bit of work to do at home) – at least I hope so because it’s taking a big chunk out of the day! We got back home with just enough time for L to get ready for Gym and J and I to prepare some ideas for French activities to do with a family of small boys while she was at gym. Bob picked L up, arriving home a little before the rest of us, quick tea and then everybody out to judo, which J and L were trying to see if it’s something they want to do as well as K. They loved it, so I guess judo is now a fixture in our week 🙂 I should have been at a local preachers’ meeting that evening, but I forgot until almost too late and then couldn’t get hold of Bob to ask him to take A (he was at judo) and so didn’t make it. Or send apologies. Oops 🙁

Tuesday would have been K’s strings group, if it had been on, but it hadn’t yet started for the term so we ambled across to Gina’s anyway, but later, to make a few plans for the term. Violin was on, and L and A were absolutely overjoyed to have Christina back 😀 Back home only for L to go out to Rainbows, and then the boys to gym – our week is definitely shaping up to be Mon/Tues/Wed hectic.

Having said that, Wednesday 8th was a day of many plans and rather less reality. The morning was free, as no Latinetc or Historyetc, so cello was our first commitment. Then we dashed back to hand K over to a friend who had offered to take him to Reading Club with her son and to get L to ballet. As it turned out, ballet wasn’t on, and nor was the monthly reading Club – that had apparently happened the previous week… Cubs was a collage making session, using materials brought back from holiday – bit of a nothing tbh, especially as we hadn’t been on holiday so the boys had little to take.

Thursday was Tots, with a couple of new families 🙂 and Friday a meet-up with friends, then Saturday brought the return of Music School, with the exciting news that they are to work with the Britten Sinfonia this term – slightly less exciting to find that the piece selected is “In C” by Terry Riley, a minimalist piece which they are all finding challenging more from boredom than from technical difficulty. J says it is mentally hard to play, but not physically. It will be interesting to see if it comes together and is more fun when they get to play with the actual Britten Sinfonia later 😉 The choir part of the music school is fab this term though; they’re doing Britten’s “This little babe” and also working on a possible production of Joseph 🙂 A’s baby music has moved to music school too, which makes life much easier. Oh, and J now has trombone lessons there – double bonus!

After Music School we went to Stourbridge Fair and met up with lots of friends, Tudor and otherwise, listened to a few stories from the local storytelling group, found out about the history of the fair, met some beekeepers and joined in with some lovely medieval dancing (with a bit of interesting sling and toddler juggling on my part) 😀 I had a lovely quiet evening babysitting too – excellent day!

On Sunday we went to an open day (afternoon) at Buckden Towers – a place we’ve been past many times without knowing what it was – it was really interesting to find out more about a place which seems to be a
little gem, stuffed full of history and interest but tucked away and barely known.

Monday was another whirl, with A ballet, BF course, L gym, French, judo… And then Tuesday found us on our way to London for a follow-up INSET to the Ypres trip, leaving A with Gina so that we could do some fancy child-shuffling and get to both workshops on offer. We spent the morning having a tour of the Royal Chelsea Hospital with a charismatic in-pensioner called Ken, then a quick lunch outside the National Army Museum before going in for the workshops. The first one was a NAM schools one on Propaganda, which involved thinking about how we use historical sources, then looking at posters and deciding what they were about and at whom they were aimed, leading on to designing our own posters and describing those in the same way. Then we were given information and ideas about the artwork we need to produce for the Celebrating Remembrance exhibition (argh – have to get going!) and split into HE families and teachers (cunningly I handed my children over to Dave so that they could do the HE workshop while I pretended to be a teacher and got some more ideas 😉 ) with the HE families doing another NAM workshop, this time looking at realia and stories from soldiers, while the remaining adults worked with an art teacher to start thinking of how to present the concepts to a class and start to turn them into an art piece. The most helpful part was making an ideas board, or mood board, with lots of scraps and pictures on it, linked with ideas and ways they could fit together or be presented – rather like a topic web, which it would have occurred to me to do for a written piece, but mostly visual. It was good to be made to do it, as it’s not something I’d have thought of, or indeed done even if I had thought of it, otherwise; I don’t think in pictures but in words! We all came together again after that (and Dave dashed off home with E and J, who had a busy evening to get to) for a talk from a Commonwealth War Graves Commission rep – very interesting but not as helpful for art ideas 😉
L had to miss Rainbows and K and J gym, but I think it was worth it – I wish we could get to London a bit more quickly/cheaply/easily, as every time we go I come back enthused with ideas for places I’d like to take the children…

Wednesday was Latinetc, which was at Helen’s this time, and very gentle with lots of rabbit adoration 😉 L had been absolutely abominable that morning, so we were late and I was horrible and made her write lines instead of adoring bunnies. She did write them beautifully though, and with so little fuss I think she realised she had gone too far. Science involved making some beautiful (but disturbingly cocktail-like) layered sugar-water rainbows and a rather cool oil water salt lava lamp 🙂 Latin was a dash through Minimus chapter 3 for most, and a bit more of chapter 3 Galore Park for J and J. SB and K did some Galore Park French too, joined by E and L for some of the time. Gina did some music with various people at various times, A and S made some lovely leaf prints using sun reactive paper, and all in all it was a nice chilled session, despite an unpromising start! I dashed across with K, E and L for cello and work in the car, then Gina joined us later with S, J, J and A so they could have a little longer at Helen’s. L ballet somehow didn’t happen (and in fact we decided not to bother any more this term as the timing is just too awkward; looking into Sat ballet instead) and the boys’ Cubs, which was to have been a visit from some Australian shepherd dogs, was less exciting than it might have been since the dogs had kennel cough 🙁 I was looking at the Community Choir at the same place as Music School, but trying to fit that in on a wed eve as well might just be one thing too much, I fear.

Thurs was Tots, as usual, and on Friday we went to a localish HE group session on making paper bag albums, which was fun (and I ended up buying lots of bags from her so we can do it at Tots or on a Wed sometime) but we again didn’t make it back in time to get to the free sports session we’ve yet to try – 4:30pm on a Friday in the next town is just too hard to manage, it seems, even for something we know would be good if only we could get to it!

Saturday Music School was followed by the other K’s birthday party, at a local swimming pool. J, K and L all very much enjoyed the swimming, but A was utterly miserable, as the water was cold enough to encourage proper swimming and the shallow end too deep for L to stand up in, leave alone A. After a brief dip she asked to go to the loo and we never quiet made it back in, instead sitting on the edge (air temperature was very warm; water very cold) and throwing toys in for others to fetch, then having a long hot shower ten minutes before everyone else got out. Lots of balloons and tasty food in a big hall was a recipe for success, with a chance to chat with a few people we’d not seen for a while – lovely, thank you Susan and Dave 🙂

On Sunday we had intended to go to the Honey Show in nearby park, but a combination of poor weather and overtired/not entirely well children meant we decided against that, especially knowing that Monday was to be a normal busy day. I did get my three pieces of work done for my course though. Tuesday started early, with K’s strings and orchestra from 8:15 – 9:10. Violin was great, as ever (L would like to have a lesson every day) and the boys went to the park with a friend while L and A were busy. Rainbows and gym as usual. Wednesday was the first ever Historyetc, at Helen’s, with bonus Jax and family – K was very happy to see Small again 🙂 It went well, I think, plus the weather was very kind to us and we didn’t have to dash off so I was able to leave all but K there and take E and K to cello then come back afterwards for a bit of extra time. Cubs was go-karting, which the boys loved – J is making the most of being a Cub for an extra half-term, since he should have gone up to Scouts already, but I begged a delay so that he could acclimatise again 😉

Thursday was Tots, as ever, and then could have been CHEF sports, but we had already arranged to do an art session on Picasso so dashed across to that instead – and it was well worth it! We looked at some of Picasso’s art and talked about what he was trying to show, particularly since we know that he could draw really well and realistically – his art teacher at 8 said he had nothing left to teach him – so why are so many of his pictures so very unrealistic? The children each brought with them an object which made them feel a strong emotion and talked about how that felt, then sat down with sketch pads, acrylics and canvases to see if they could produce a picture which was about emotions rather than about accurate depiction. L was soon in tears because she could not see how to do what she wanted and Melanie, who was running the session, did a fantastic job of talking her through that, such that L set to work on something else entirely and ended up with a picture she is very pleased with, which shows her feelings about the world 🙂 K did a piece on war which he hopes to use as part of the RAH work, while J played around a bit with a few ideas and then completed a picture about the environment. A played with colours and has a couple of lovely abstract pieces, which I love.

On Friday we picked up S and W so that their mum could have a few hours free for work, and took them with us to a Letterland workshop organised by a local HE parent who also runs a toyshop. There were lots of games for those too old for Letterland to play with, which has increased the children’s Christmas wish-list somewhat, and a park outside which would have been great had the weather been just a little better; as it was I stood and watched them all playing in the rain until I could bear it no longer and then we went in and warmed up before heading for home.

Saturday was more than triple booked so we had to prioritise and even then divide ourselves up. K, L and A went to music school with Bob, while J and I went to look at a school he rather likes the sound of – and indeed it does look fab, but is a good 45 minutes drive away and heavily oversubscribed. Although it is a state comprehensive school they have 12 places each year which are allocated on linguistic and/or musical aptitude so J would be hoping for one of those places (along with about 250 other children). We figure it’s worth trying the tests at least and then if he gets offered a place we can still opt not to take it up. If he doesn’t get in, or we decide it’s too hard logistically then HE is the next preferred option. It’s all a bit scary really! The plan had been to get ready for Kentwell and go along to set up tents on Saturday evening, but the weather was not promising so we decided to leave it and take the tent with us on Sunday instead, to see if it might be better then. It wasn’t, and the tent stayed un-put-up, but we had a good day nonetheless, with Bob on the gate and the children all with me in the Cotte. We came back for the usual busy Monday, then the children and I set off at sparrowfart on Tuesday in hopes of getting the tent up early, got stuck in traffic and ended up having to do it after flagdown instead – just before the rain started, at least. On Wednesday the boys both ended up being pedlars, which they loved, while L and A stayed with me in the cotte, where L learned to card and spin 🙂 The rain looked set to stay on Wednesday so I took the tent down first thing, soggy as it was, before it got any worse, then after flagdown we cleared up and had tea before setting off for home. Meanwhile Bob had spent the day at home while solar panels were fitted to the workshop roof – exciting stuff!

Fortunately Thursday was bright and sunny so we were able to get at least some of our things dry, although it would have been better if I had hung them out before Tots and CHEF sports 🙄 Friday was miserable again, so lots of stuff had to be hung inside, and Bob again worked from home, with the boys too, so that I could dash off to see a friend, using the small car (which doesn’t fit all the children) while the big one (which does) had its MOT. We got back really late, but still managed to get the children to music school and then L and A to ballet, trying out a new Saturday class so that Mondays will be less manic. Phew! It’s been quite a week!

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