Saturday, 16 August 2014

We Climbed a Mountain

When my daughter telephoned me with her AS results earlier this week, I was once again reassured that my husband and I had made the right decision supporting her move into independent education. Her astonishingly good results instantly wiped out the remnants of stress I'd been feeling ever since her minor pre-results nerves that we attempted to fix with pizza in a rather nice Italian restaurant. She is currently on her way to Scotland to perform in a musical at the Edinburgh Fringe which rounds off a busy summer that started with charity work in Malawi. She is certainly taking full advantage of every opportunity that comes her way.

Of course, all of these things cost money and although I am absolutely convinced that it is money well spent and my daughter is benefitting enormously, it does mean that there is little left in the budget to spend on such things as a family holiday. As much as I would have loved a week (or two!) somewhere beautiful (exotic?) and relaxing, we are having to be content with staying home and making the best of what's on offer locally.

During a shopping trip to Telford to buy new school uniform for my 6 year old Addy and my little Dylan about to start his Reception year, Addy's attention was drawn to a prominent Shropshire landmark - The Wrekin.

The Wrekin is a hill that rises 1,335 ft above the Shropshire Plain.

To my daughter it was a mountain.

It was a mountain she wanted to climb.

Climbing a 'mountain' seemed like exactly the sort of low budget activity that I wanted to encourage - combining fresh air, exercise and getting better acquainted with our local environment.

Back home I had a go at baking brownies to take on our expedition and told the children the story of the Shropshire Giant that allegedly had a grudge against the people of Shrewsbury and wanted to destroy the town. The giant had a plan to dump a shovel load of earth into the River Severn to flood Shrewsbury but did not know how to get there. He met a cobbler on the road and asked him for directions. The quick thinking cobbler was returning from market with a bag full of shoes for repair and sensing that the giant was up to no good, emptied his bag and told the giant that he had worn out all the shoes on his journey from Shrewsbury. The giant concluded that Shrewsbury must be too far away to bother continuing with his plan and dumped his shovel load where he stood. Thus, the Wrekin was created. A smaller hill next to the Wrekin known as The Ercall was created when the giant scraped his boots before returning home to wherever giants return home to.

Addy thought this was a stupid story...  and anyway, giant aren't even real.

She did, however, approve of the brownies.

The next day, we set off early to catch the best of the weather and climbed that mountain. We had plenty of breaks to eat brownies, climb trees and pick blackberries.


The children made it all the way to the windy top where fifteen counties can be viewed - if you know what you are looking for!


After a slight disappointment from Dylan that it wasn't possible to sit down and slide back down the mountain, we made our descent.

It was a lovely trip with a great sense of accomplishment all round, not least because of the brownies that turned out to be a chocolatey success.


Monday, 4 August 2014

Cool Bandz

With the popularity of Loom Bands still very much in evidence, here is an alternative way of making funky bracelets (without the problem of multicoloured elastic bands left all over your house).

Cool Bandz from Flair's Cool Create Range is a kit for making wristbands reminiscent of those issued at music festivals (or hospitals!). Aimed at girls aged 6+ it was a perfect review product to be put to the test by my little Addy.


The kit contains the Cool Bandz Unit which serves to store the materials for the wristbands as well as housing a 'laminating dispenser' and hole punch for actually making them.



The instructions state simply "choose a band and decorate with stickers". There are 24 bands to choose from in an exciting variety of designs. I actually thought that they were a little too exciting. Most of them didn't leave much scope for further decoration. I also felt that the manufacturers could have been a little more generous with the gems and stickers, especially given the cost of the kit.

Addy enjoyed covering her choice of band in stickers and we moved onto the next stage of the process which was laminating.

By laminating it actually meant covering the band with a strip of sticky tape but the Unit is cleverly designed to feed the band under the dispenser for an accurate application.


Finally, a clip is added so the band can be fastened. A hole is made in both ends of the band using the integrated hole punch.


With the holes lined up the clip can be pushed through and snapped shut.


The kit provides 12 clips but they are reusable. Once the materials are exhausted, there is no reason why imaginative children could not use any paper cut to the correct width and decorated to make truly unique creations.

Addy enjoyed making her wristband but egged on by her little brother thought that pulling great lengths of tape out of the dispenser to hear the noise it made was more fun! Thankfully, the tape can be replaced with a standard 19mm mini sticky tape roll.


Friday, 1 August 2014

A beautiful photograph - a beautiful young woman

I recently invited my 17 year old daughter to write a guest post about her experience doing voluntary work with a charity in Malawi. The post has generated lots of positive feedback which did not surprise me. It was a beautifully written piece and really conveyed the passion that my daughter feels to pursue a career in medicine and be able to make a difference to people's lives.

She is currently working hard on her Personal Statement for University applications and getting to grips with the BMAT (Bio Medical Admissions Test) and UKCAT (UK Clinical Aptitude Test) that she will need to sit shortly. Her dedication to a task never fails to impress me.

The following photograph was taken by another volunteer in Malawi. I wanted to share it here on my blog because I absolutely adore it. My heart swells with pride when I look at the confident, empathic, brilliant young woman my 'slightly odd' little girl has become.

Photograph by Jane Fan
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