The weather has been its usual non-cooperative self, and so progress on the patch has been slight. Yesterday we managed to remove the turf from another width of trench, the biggest slab of concrete yet was removed (a team effort this time, which required lots of standing and staring and poking with the pickaxe), and a teeny bit of digging was done. Then the rain came, and tools were downed, and we headed down to the Lakes for a late lunch – a bit of treat for the kids in recognition of the fact that watching us dig can be a bit dull. Though, as I mentioned in my last post, it’s not like they don’t have a small shop’s worth of toys to play with.
I think the highlight of the afternoon for the kids, was feeding the chickens at the place we had lunch. When we arrived, someone came out with some bread for the kids to give to their chooks, and I didn’t have the heart to tell her we had 10 stuck in their coop at home, however the kids gave an oscar worthy performance of children who had never seen, or fed, chickens before, so everyone was happy.
Today started off pretty glorious, but instead of gardening we’d made plans to head into Carlisle, to a Nature Explorers event at Tullie House Museum. We’ve been to Tullie House once before, last summer, and the kids had enjoyed it, particularly a mock up of a train carriage which we had to sit in for an interminable amount of time, listening to the poem The Night Mail being recited over and over and over again. Today was a whole different kettle of fish though, there were stalls and activities from a number of different nature organisations scattered throughout the museum. We started off looking at rocks, J and I learnt something when we discovered gypsum was naturally occurring, and I found out about talc mines – something I was completely ignorant of. I think we found this stall a bit more interesting than the kids, although they enjoyed messing about with the various rocks, and occasionally trying to pocket them. Next up was making a picture of a volcano, the girl is particularly fond of scissors and glue, and so she was in seventh heaven, attempting to chop up any bit of scrap paper she could lay her hands on – unfortunately they didn’t have scissors suited to left handed people, and that seems to be her favoured hand, so she ended up more just folding paper around the scissors, but she didn’t really care and carried on regardless. The boy quickly got bored and wanted to move on, and once the girl saw the green gloop that was being used to build your very own volcano, the scissors were a thing of the past. They both loved getting stuck in and getting their hands dirty, as did J.
After the volcanic eruption, came the further excitement of wood fired pizza; pizza being the girls favourite food, the boy even managed to force some down despite his moans of not really liking it, and that he’d rather have a burger. We also spotted some bush tucker popcorn, with a tasty mix of popcorn, chocolate raisins and crickets, J and I bought some with a giggle, and asked the kids if they wanted some for pudding, “Popcorn!!” the girl cheered and so we handed her some over, showing her the little crickets. The girl has always had a good appetite, but I thought insects might be where she drew the line, I was wrong. Never have I seen a child less concerned about shovelling tiny fistfuls of bugs down her throat, she even looked a bit sad once they’d all gone. J, the boy and I all tried one (unable to wrestle more from her) and weren’t particularly impressed, I thought they tasted a bit like someone had Donald Trumped in my mouth.
After lunch they then went on to making jelly fish hats, pipecleaner dragonflies and did relief prints of kingfishers and otters.
J was in his element on the “name the animal” stall, and was virtually shouldering the kids out of the way to get his answer sheet marked (even trying to get the boy to hand it in for him, which the boy would not deign to do), I think he was rather disappointed there wasn’t a prize in it for him. I was particularly excited by the animal footprints you can do rubbings of, the kids and J didn’t seem as interested and had taken up camp in the aforementioned train carriage, and so I wandered off and did it on my own with a serene grin, promising myself that I’d remember some wax crayons and paper next time we head out for a walk. I might even let the kids have a go. As long as they do it right, of course.
We’d planned to spend a few hours there, but the day passed before we knew it, and it was time to go home, but not before stopping at the shop to pick up some mementos of the day with money they’d raided from their piggy banks this morning. A good day was had, though when completing the evaluation sheet, the boy tried to play it cool by saying it had been “OK”, we ignored his input and settled on a ‘Very Good’, as there’d barely been a cross word between us all…. other than when the boy had cut a tentacle from the girl’s jelly fish hat, to stick to his own. But you can’t have it all.