Friday was a day of deliveries: first of all J had to be back at school by 4am, which meant a very early start for him and for Bob, but also for me as official waker-upper! At least leaving at 3:15 means traffic is generally not an issue, so he was soon safely delivered 🙂 He’s going to the Netherlands on an orchestra trip with his old school, so he’ll get to play his trombone lots even if it’s not direct exam practice. It may not help his recorder playing much though…

We were expecting a delivery at about 9:30, after which we could leave for conservation.Then we found out that another delivery, which we had been expecting in the afternoon, was due at about 10. This meant our plan of Bob coming home for the afternoon would no longer work. Since I had already warned people that we might be late if L was feeling rough again this was not a problem -leaving at 10 would still get us there in plenty of time to help with conservation tasks and cooking. The first delivery came nice and early, then we all got ready and waited for the second, but there was no sign of it. Eventually Bob phoned and was told it was about twenty minutes away, so we carried on waiting. Finally it arrived at about 11:20, then we did the fastest turnaround ever, sorting out the Beans’ stuff to take with us and still managing to leave by 11:30. We arrived just in time to add our (pre-cooked) veg to the pot and eat! No Conservation for us then 🙁 although we did get chilli and chat, and we helped to clear away 😉

Beans’ Suma safely delivered, we dropped the boys off near the library and went on to violin, where we discovered that Lfish’s violin has a buzz which needs attention before her exam, so our next port of call was to the string shop where she tried new bows (and thankfully decided they’re not better enough to be worth it – phew!) and we were asked to leave the violin for the luthier to look at. I then dropped Lfish off at choir, left Afish with her friend Z, reminded Kfish not to be late, collected L and took him to music, then returned to find that Bob had picked up the girls and Kfish was still singing. Friday logistics take some planning!

Modroc, chlorophyll and music; Multisport, more music and other sports

Bob took Afish, Lfish and L to HH’s and we met them there, once we’d got away from hospital. In fact we arrived not long after them, as Bob had let L sleep in after a restless night thanks to a nasty cold.

Activities this week included ensemble (prioritised this time, as it’s been missed a couple of times now), making the armatures and beginning the modroc wrapping for our Degas-inspired sculptures, collecting, colour-sorting and then crushing leaves for a chromatography experiment, some Maths for J and SB, saxophone lesson for L and lots of chatting and socialising.
TheBabs gave L and A a lift back (thank you!) and collected a chest of drawers for their new En Famille guest at the same time, which meant I could take K, Lfish and J off for choir, Italian and more choir without having to go home first.

On Thursday we had another late start/lie-in then L felt recovered enough for Multisport. They were in the hall and garden today, rather than down at the park, which made it an easier session fortunately. We came back via trombone and then A had gym. In the evening L decided judo would be one step too far, so opted for an early night instead, while K debated how much his heart monitor might get in the way and decided to go anyway 🙂
I spent every spare moment making sure J was up to date with work and helping him to pack – sometimes I think it would be easier to just do it all myself 🙄


Monday was the beginning of our quiet week this fortnight, and started with a bit of a lie-in all round – I think as the weather gets worse the urge to hibernate increases!
Maths and English happened, and so did a bit of house-tidying since the weekend had been too busy (again!). History, spread through the week but starting on Monday, took the form of writing up our Kentwell trip and putting it into the back of the folders as a point to aim for and then watching this documentary on Celtic Britain, which was very good but long enough to merit breaking up into manageable chunks – easily done as there are four separate programmes within the one video. This week’s History will be to write up the Celts so that we can move on to the transition to Roman Britain – already covered a little by the last of the four programmes. If the weather permits, we’ll also head off to Flag Fen to see the Iron Age camp there; otherwise we may have to backtrack later.
On Monday afternoon K and A had cello and then we got back to find that a couple of HE families I had agreed to do some French with were already here so I came straight in to a lesson while the children sorted themselves out for half an hour. Then K and L went to football, which was slightly damp but not enough to merit using “the cage” rather than the grass, apparently, so that’s an experience yet to come. L wore a pair of J’s old football boots, which were better than trainers for grip but turned out to be not completely waterproof so he got one damp sock!
Meanwhile Bob was at a meeting about J’s forthcoming orchestra trip and J was doing his online English course and somehow in amongst everything else Lfish’s Guides got completely forgotten until about half an hour before it was due to end, by which time she was in pyjamas and curled up on the settee with the others watching something lighthearted… Ho hum.

Tuesday began with a visit from the social worker (and her student) for L, just to check that all is well. She looked at some of his English work with him and chatted a bit and then declared him happy and healthy and left, with an appointment to return in just under six weeks for the next check. Phew! Flag Fen had been on the menu but we decided to watch more of the documentary instead, with brief forays out to the garden when weather permitted, as well as the usual everyday bookwork and music practices, making the most of a quiet week 😉 Kfish wanted to try making soap and found a kit in the annexe waiting to be used, so we made a basic start, with a view to trying more fancy things later on. Afish had Brownies, but other than that there was no reason for anyone to go anywhere – a nice change for us this term!

Wednesday was another quiet day; I think we all needed this week of calm! Bob was working from home, so I was able to leave L and Afish here when I took Kfish and Lfish to choir and Jfish to Italian. We had intended to leave with enough time to take K’s cello and bow to the strings shop and ask for advice about his recent loss of tone but somehow that didn’t happen. Lfish and I went in to talk to them anyway, while K was at choir, and arranged to go back in on Friday for him to try bows.

On Thursday we thought about trying the Cambourne multisport but staying at home won out in the end. In fact, since trombone was cancelled it was another day with no need to go anywhere until Afish’s gym class at 5 🙂 I recently bought the What Your Child Needs to Know books for year 3 and year 6 for Lfish and Afish, who both love reading them – so much so that I think I might pick up the other years too, just so they have more to look at when they’ve finished 😀 A’s current chapter suggested soap carving as an activity (to make a frieze) which she thought sounded a really good idea, so we decided to do some practical History. The weather being better again we took ourselves outside and did some cave art with read paint (to be ochre) – fingerpainting, blowing and splattering. Then we took a bar of soap each and pretended it was bone, to be carved like the artifacts we saw at Cresswell Crags.Even J came and joined in the fun. It started to rain so we had to bring everything indoors in a big hurry, and the carving took so much time and effort that it stayed as an ongoing project for several days – in fact some are still not quite finished. We also have a little bowl of soap shavings to try to melt down and mould back into a bar 🙂 The rain got harder and led to lots of playing in the rain and getting very wet – then hot baths and showers to warm up again.

Friday began too late to allow us to get back to the multisport session we had optimistically thought might be good every other week. Ah well. In the afternoon Lfish had violin and we were somehow running so late by then that we ended up taking lunch with us to eat in the car (I think it was all the soap carving that slowed us down :lol:) and all going to violin rather than having time for a library drop-off first. The strings shop is close to where I often drop the boys off for the library anyway so we all went there and K showed the owner his old bow. The man asked if he had been given a medal as well as a distinction for his grade 5, for using such an elderly and decrepit bow, and proffered a new one which he said was not really a grade 6 bow but was cheap, miles better than the old one and would see him through until he goes up a cello size anyway. Very nice man 😀
Choir, library, music hub, choir… and home 🙂

Saturday was a shopping day for J and me – once his English was finally done. Procrastination rules! The others had music school, then L had gym and then we all did some housework and gardening, so it felt like quite a productive afternoon 🙂 We finished the day with Great British Bake Off and home-made pizza 🙂

Saturday, Sunday…

Hmm, actually I spent most of Saturday buried under a duvet with my laptop so Bob was in charge while I got a service together ready for Sunday.
Music school happened for 4 out of 5 children. I think the 5th was planning a lie-in, but I’m afraid I thwarted that by getting him up to do some English course work, which was due in the afternoon and had been promised all week. Sigh.
Perhaps Bob can add what else happened? You never know… :frog:

On Sunday K should have been singing at Eucharist, but since I was preaching at exactly the same time but in the opposite direction we decided life was going to be much easier if he came with us instead, especially as the afternoon and evening were to be full of choir stuff anyway. The service went well, then we were offered the chance to climb the bell tower – who could resist? The Methodist church in the village is now a private house and the Methodist and Anglican congregations share the parish church, which is an old traditional one (and cold with it!) complete with bells and spire 🙂 As we went up the churchwarden pointed out to us the parts of the tower and spire which were held up with wooden scaffolding in the late 19th century while the stonework below was repaired. It must have been an incredibly tricky operation! We didn’t go right to the very top, as the stairs were getting more and more worn as we got further away from the new, repaired part, but we did go high enough to see the bells from above, which was very cool, and we had a good view of the surrounding countryside.

One advantage of an early service is that we were back in time for the church council meeting at our home church. More importantly for the children we were back in time for tea and biscuits, having already had round at the church where I was preaching 😆 Our church is having large amounts of refurbishment done, in the course of which it became clear that there was structural damage (caused largely by pigeons!) to the tune of nearly £50000. We’ve been having lots of meetings (actually technically one long meeting, frequently adjourned, in order to avoid having to give lengthy notice periods for each one) to discuss what to do next and keep up to date with emergency repairs as they happen. The older children decided to walk home rather than wait through the meeting (they’d had their biscuits by then, after all!) so they set off while Bob and Afish chatted to other church members also waiting for the council meeting to be finished.

Once we’d made it home and had lunch there was not long before choristers and I had to head off again, ready for choir photos, all choirs evensong and then the choir bring and share party. Photos were about as painful as could be expected, but I had a secret weapon against boredom in the form of some books K said I needed to read – his new favourite series (Fabled Beast series; Wolf notes and other musical mishaps kept me busy for a while 🙂 ). Evensong was beautiful and included one of my favourite anthems: Todd’s Call of Wisdom. Then we gathered at the back of the church for a feast of random food items 😉 It was easy to see I was a Methodist at an Anglican party – I was gasping for a cup of tea while all that was offered was a choice of wine with or without fizz. I had to go to the children’s drinks table and make do with orangeade, but a cup of tea was definitely what was needed!

Conservation and music

Last week being our busy week, it was Conservation on Friday. Unfortunately two of the main organising families weren’t there, which left us with not really enough adults to go out and do the work we had planned. Instead I supervised cooking while a small team of older children collected and sawed firewood so that we have plenty for the next couple of sessions and only need to top up. Meanwhile the new younger group got going with some craft activities, mostly making conker creatures and teasel hedgehogs, which looked such fun that several of the older ones went and joined them… The weather was gorgeous and they were all unhappy about being dragged away, but placated by the promise of time in the library if we got away on time (as opposed to an hour working in the car if we didn’t 😉 ).
Having dropped off the boys the girls and I went on to Lfish’s violin lesson. She’s starting to feel more at home with Simon, and is getting the hang of deciding for herself what they’ll cover, so this time she asked him to go over a scale with her and then help with some purple patches in one of her exam pieces. The lessons always seem to whizz by before they’ve done much, though; I think there’s a lot of “try this here and then apply it everywhere else for yourself” type learning going on. I hope so anyway! Afish did some Maths with me during the lesson and then we went to a nearby school to meet up with Z, who had invited her round to watch Frozen. This involved a ride on a tagalong, which she found rather daunting but managed and I think may even have enjoyed in the end 😉
I walked Lfish to choir and then went to find J and L and take them to their music session, leaving K in the library with his friend A to walk themselves to choir at the right time. I’ve no idea what they really do in music – it’s very much a drop them and come back later session – but they seem to be getting enough out of it to think it worthwhile so we’ll do it for this term and then see if J wants to carry on. L will probably not be here for enough sessions next term to merit doing it, but we’ll see how it goes and how flexible they are.
Lfish and I have been clashing a fair bit lately so I walked back via M&S and picked up some cream cakes for us to share, forgetting that her friend (A’s sister and also A) would be there too – as it happens she doesn’t like cream cakes (what!) so Lfish’s offer to share hers was appreciated but not taken up. K and A got carried away in the comics section and only just arrived in time – dashing through the door just as we were trying to ring them and ask where they were and then legging it up the aisle as the choir master was starting the warm-up.
K and A had been asked to stay behind after choir and help with the recording of an exam piece composed by one of the chamber choir girls, but when Sam saw that A and Lfish were still there too he asked if they’d like to help too, which they were very happy to do. It sounded lovely – a really good piece, for which I hope she will do well. Then the A’s dad arrived to collect them, bringing with him our A, and it was time to go home 🙂 Bob collected the boys from music so that we’d have some time to get back and make tea as well as giving me a little extra time for service preparation and that worked well; I think I might ask him to do that again 😉

Back to Normality

Tuesday was a fairly messy, tired, grumpy day, trying to get back to normal after a busy weekend and late nights all round. We seem to have got into a pattern of doing lots of fortnightly activities, which all tend to fall on the same weeks in the month, so it was our only day at home this week, which didn’t really help! Kfish and Afish had a cello lesson moved from Monday (we’d not have bothered but that Kfish has an exam coming up soon) so I took them out to that leaving the others to do normals at home, then we had a clear afternoon until Brownies for Afish. There were tents to dry (heavy fog when taken down leaves them nearly as wet as rain!), sleeping bags to air, shifts to wash and dry and an approved food delivery to put away too, so plenty to keep me busy! I left the bulk of the putting away to Bob, as it was mostly boxes to return to the workshop loft. He’s been busy with work, though, so the house is still littered…

Wednesday was WedEd, which meant a saxophone lesson for L 😀 Em gave him an hour and plenty to be working on, so he’s not short of things to practise 😉 HH did Science sessions based on the nervous system and sense organs, which all concerned seem to have enjoyed a great deal – especially the magic marble which looked like one but felt like two 🙂 We also looked at Degas and did some preparatory discussion and sketches ready for sculpture next time – chicken wire and modroc, so let’s hope the weather stays kind! TheBabs also did a fab session on surds, which I found really helpful, never mind the children 😉 Sadly, I ran out of time to fit in a Jfish and SB French session this time, and Em’s ensemble didn’t happen either (partly my fault; I didn’t realise she was waiting to scoop up recorderists when I whisked them off to do art) – we’ll prioritise that next time to make sure it happens!
Italian and choir for J, K and Lfish, while Afish and L went home and did… I know not what with Bob…

Today we started with more out-of-order History – one of Kate’s fab sessions, which was finishing last term’s theme of the medieval church by talking about the building of cathedrals and ended with small groups planning and building their own cathedrals. I had hoped this might fill Afish’s desperate need to do junk modelling, but apparently not, so I’ll try to fit that in next week, when we actually have some time at home!
We rushed from History to Multisport and then from Multisport to trombone and now I’m sitting outside Afish’s gym blogging as procrastination from service preparation for Sunday, while all the other children are at home doing at least a bare minimum of Maths, English and Music practice. Or quite possibly lying on their beds reading – can’t blame them if they are; it’s where I’d like to be :frog:

Pages of History

Our History project has been coming along slowly but surely, with field trips stacking up ready for future weeks, but Kentwell was a field trip whose timing could not be changed, even though it meant a jump forward by 1500 years! Michaelmas is the only Tudor event which fits into the time L is with us, so Michaelmas was when we had to go.
Kfish has been a page at the last few summer events and thought that this might be a good option for L too, since he would be able to follow along with other pages and have a pattern to copy and a clear routine to follow. It also meant that being French would not be an issue, since he could be some hopeful scion visiting the family. The final deciding factor was that K’s old plain black doublet and hose fitted him well and would be suitable for a page in lieu of house livery.
There were three pages most days and four on at least one, so they were more a chapter than a book, but enough to have fun together and keep busy. They spent some time policing the maze, guiding groups round the house, running errands round the estate and accompanying gentlefolk on strolls. They also played chess (Tudor rules, obviously) and even went punting, and a bonus for L was that gentry food includes large quantities of meat 😉
Meanwhile Lfish was also in the house, mostly singing, dancing or playing the viol, all of which suited her very well.Bob and Jfish were with the alchemists, which J has decided might be something he would like to do for longer next time. Afish and I were down to be pedlars, but Afish defected to the cotte for the weekend and then came and peddled on Monday only.I think the cotte feels like a second home to her now, since she has spent two or three weeks there every summer of her life 🙂
We had to leave in a bit of a hurry on the Monday to get Lfish and Kfish to string orchestra and Jfish home in time for his English session, which meant an early and organised start to get the tents down and then a fairly agonising wait while the last school party took their time at the market, dallied by the front gate and finally left!
I’ve suggested that the children write up their three days of being Tudor and put it into their project folders, then we can see if we can fill the gap between Bronze Age and Tudor before L goes back to France. It may be a bit of a romp through the centuries, but it’s good to have a goal!


A week of mostly being at home, catching our breath, keeping up bookwork… oh and getting ready for Kentwell – more of an issue for me than for the children! Isn’t it amazing how things which were put away confidently ready for their next wearing turn out to need of hours of mending and tlc? Then there are those wretched children who insist on growing, so that things need altering, or on telling you now that those things you thought fitted nicely have actually stretched and need taking in? I’d like to say that at least it will now be ready for next time, but I’m not so complacent!

Quick rundown of the week, leaving it to you to work out who did what:

Monday – cello lesson x 2, string orchestra x 2, football x 1, Guides x 1

Tuesday – Brownies x 1

Wednesday – choir x 2, Italian x 1, library visits x multiple

Thursday – gym x 1, judo x 2

Friday – lie-in x too many = no sports, library visits x 3, violin x 1, choir x 2, wind group x 1, CB brass x 1, technical gym x 2, orchestra x 2, choir friend birthday celebration x 1 😀

Saturday – early start x 7 ready for the drive to Kentwell

Whoosh – that was the weekend!

Saturday started, as Saturdays are wont to do now that we are into term time, with music school. J had an invitation to go back to school and play for Open Day so Bob took him to the station bright and early and I did the music school run, meaning to come back straight away and get on with jobs. They’re singing Cantar una cancion alegra which is always fun, so somehow I ended up staying through the Sing Up! session and only coming back after that. Bob, back from the station, took his laptop to a side room and worked while they did theory and orchestra, then he and the children went to collect J, which made life a little interesting timing-wise (J missed the earlier train) for getting Lfish back in time for gym. She ate lunch in the car on the way there and back (so as not to have cramp from exercising on a full stomach 😉 ) and was only a few minutes late. I’ve been trying to walk more, so took the chance to get in a good hour of walking while she was at gym – I definitely feel better for it. I miss the days when we were able to walk everywhere 🙁

After such a busy week we thought tired children might appreciate a lazy afternoon, so we fished out the popcorn maker and they chose a film to watch 🙂 That meant the Saturday house tidy didn’t happen, though, and with our social worker check due on Monday it was a necessity this week, not just a good habit to try to maintain, so Sunday after church found us all scooting round, each having chosen a room or part of a room to take on. I forgot to set the timer so we ended up doing more than I might have asked, but it is nice to see the results 😉

Sporty Thursday; full Friday

This has been a week of Going Out! Thursday was Multisport, the first one of the new term, which kicked off with dodgeball and basketball. All four partakers came out hot and sweaty, having had a good couple of hours of running around. Meanwhile Afish and I had been to the supermarket and managed a big shop, even remembering to use some of the vouchers which generally sit forgotten in my handbag until I fish them out to find they’re out of date already 🙂

Rushing back from sport we just about made it to trombone and were quite relieved by then that we hadn’t yet found out about sinfonia for this term! Trombone was followed post-haste by gym for Afish, while the others had a chance to do some catching of breath and catching up on normals before K and L headed off to judo.

Both Thursdays and Fridays have activities on alternate weeks; unfortunately this term the alternate weeks are the same, so we have a quiet week followed by a busy one. I’m sure you can guess which this one was! It was not easy to get any of the boys up so we left rather later than planned and arrived at Conservation partway through the discussion and planning meeting. The children went off to play while we talked about the shape of the group and how we can make it work better for everybody, but especially for those older children, like J and SB, who often find themselves the oldest in a group and are desperate to do at least a few activities with their peers. Hopefully some of our ideas will bear fruit; we’ll try it for a term at least and see what happens. There wasn’t really a planned activity, since it was the first meeting, but we needed to saw wood into smaller pieces for the fire to cook dinner and the fire had to be lit and tended. Sausages always taste better for being cooked over a real fire 😉 the children all gradually drifted off to play in the park then, leaving adults drinking tea and continuing to plan, and by the time I’d rounded everybody up there wasn’t time to get to the library before Lfish’s violin lesson so they had to work in the car rather than in the comfort of a room full of books and computers… That may, on reflection, have been no bad thing 😉

While Lfish and Kfish had choir Jfish and L were going to try the county music sessions on the other side of the (fortunately small) city, so I had some rushing around to do. Afish parked herself in the church where choir was and Bob collected her and Lfish from there while L, Jfish and I were introducing ourselves and working out where to go, then I had to run back and collect Kfish after his choir, walk him to the car and drive back to the music hub to collect the boys. It’s not pretty, but it seemed to work and I think they got enough out of the music to be worth doing again.