Category: Adventures

The Bank of England Museum

The Bank of England Museum

As part of our adventures this term we are on the lookout for museums and places of interest that are a little more off the beaten track. Not that we don’t love the huge museums that spring to mind when you think of London, it’s just this term we are celebrating the niche and unusual!

Making the most of the last of the warm days we had planned to have a look around Bank and St Pauls before B’s drama classes which he does each Thursday in London. That morning on the wonder that is the Internet we discovered that the Bank of England has a museum, so we decided to pay them a visit.

We decided to walk from Liverpool Street station so we could look at the buildings along the way. Its a bit of a trip down memory lane for me after years of working in London, and I was regaling B with tales from my youth.

You need to keep your eyes peeled as the entrance to the museum is quite discreet! Once inside and through the security area (it’s a bit like airport security) you can collect an activity worksheet for your child from the reception. With a selection for children of all different ages, there’s one for everyone. With our visit being unplanned, the worksheet was useful for us to give us some ideas on what to look out for. I wasn’t sure whether a museum like this would appeal to B but there is so much for the children to do. From money jigsaws to assemble through to interactive inflation tools it’s aimed at the whole family.

Personally my favourite part was getting to hold a real solid gold bar. With a value of over £400,000 we began to wonder what we would buy if we had one. B particularly enjoyed checking out whether our money was counterfeit or the real deal.

With so much going on its a really interactive fun place. We spent around an hour and a half here and enjoyed every minute. 

Holiday Planning

Holiday Planning

We’re a little late in the year with our holiday plans this year, so I’ve decided to get planning. There has been a lot of adjusting going on in our lives after making the decision to home educate B, both practical and emotional. I made the choice to give up my business as I knew I couldn’t dedicate time to both B’s education and run it successfully. I’d tried working around family life previously and 2 am finishes and 5 am starts are not good for the health so it seems! Fortunately, as one door closes another one opens, and there are all kinds of plans in the pipeline. This time projects that allow for some kind of semblance of balance. For once I actually learnt my lesson from previous disasters – go me!

With our new found freedom to go on holiday any time we liked, we kind of just assumed it would happen. Normally I am working out when and where we can go early in the year. Will this country/that country be too hot in the summer holidays? Should we go at half term? What will happen if B misses a day or two either side of a school holiday. We also had to depend on when the man who pays for it all could get time off (kind of important that one). School holiday time is like gold dust for workers all fighting after the same few weeks. I

I think without the constraints of having to go in the holidays, I didn’t see how quickly the months were whizzing by. We now had a life we weren’t trying to escape from. Everyday was now exciting and an adventure. If we needed to recharge our batteries, a few tweaks to the social calender and we felt better already. Sadly this doesn’t apply to the poor man, who has to go to work to support us, but two thirds of the house were now a whole lot less stressed.

Usually each January we make a list of where we’re dreaming of going. From days out, short breaks, or month long trips. It’s all allowed on the list, you never know if its achievable after all. This years list looked like this:

  • Japan – for a trip on the bullet train
  • New Zealand – an our summer/their winter trip for skiing and fun in Queenstown
  • Australia
  • Scotland – train rides and waterfall hunting
  • Wales – for a visit to Snowden
  • Cornwall – one of my happy places
  • France – camping
  • Lapland – to meet the big man in the red suit
  • Iceland – frozen waterfalls, geysers and aurora borealis
  • Crete – Sensatori (B sees no reason why this shouldn’t be an annual visit)
  • Brentwood – to play crazy golf

To be honest, this years list has been the most ambitious (for ambitious, read unlikely). B has upgraded from last years day trips to Frinton requests that’s for sure! I thought we might be able to achieve a couple, and then Brexit happened. Boom! With the man working in the financial sector life is suddenly a little more unpredictable. From suddenly back to working all hours as the country adjusted to this brave new world, to financial uncertainty, the list kind of got ignored. So 6 weeks later, I’m back on the holiday hunt! Our list has had additions, including a month long trip around India on a train, and a trip to Cuba, are just a couple that were bandied about. Where we end up who knows, but I’m sure it will be fun!

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory – Reviewed by B

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory – Reviewed by B

Chapter 1 – Transport

We went on the overground then changed at Liverpool Street for the underground. On the underground we went to Holborn, then changed for the dark blue line to Covent Garden. It was on Duke Street.

Chapter 2 – Best Character

Mike Teavee

Chapter 3 – The Names of the Characters

Augustus Gloop

Veruca Salt

Violet Beauregarde

Mike Teavee

Charlie Bucket

Chapter 4 – Charlie Bucket

He lived in a cottage with his mum, dad and Grandpa Joe.

Chapter 5 – How the Children Go

Augustus Gloop falls in the chocolate waterfall and goes up a pipe. Violet blows up by eating gum. Veruca Salt goes where the eggs go to see if there good or bad and Veruca Salt was a bad egg. Mike Teavee goes on TV.

Chapter 6 – Charlie’s Chocolate Factory

Charlie celebrates being the boss of the chocolate factory.

The End

Septimus Bean and his Amazing Machine review by B age 6 and a half

Septimus Bean and his Amazing Machine review by B age 6 and a half

Yesterday I went to see Septimus Bean and his Amazing Machine.


You can go on the overground from Kent or underground you can take the northern line or the jubilee line. 

Cool Bits

I like the end where it was like a cinema. I liked the start where there was no machine. At the start they pretended that there was a machine.

Worst Bits

I didn’t like the end where the machine broke but I liked Bean Park.

Favourite Bits

I like the cube.

I like the big machine when it flied. I liked how they said the same row (lines). I like the King, Septimus Bean and the Queen. They are all the characters.

Septimus Bean crashed his machine and it was like a cinema.

The End.

Southend Planetarium

Southend Planetarium

We’ve just got back from a fantastic morning at the Southend Planetarium kindly organised by one of the fab mums in the home education community. These days have been a lifeline since we started our home education journey. Being able to be alongside other home educating families with a shared interest is a great introduction to the wider community. If you or your child finds meeting up with new people daunting, this is a great way to start to recognise faces without feeling pressurised to make friends.

Our presentation lasted around 45 minutes which was a perfect time to keep minds from wandering. Our presenter was enthusiastic and knowledgeable and the whole lecture was quite informal. The children joined in with the answers, and I know B man was pleased with the combination of learning new things and reinforcing all the knowledge he already had on space.

Here is what B discovered this morning:

  • The room (planetarium) was a circle. It was like a cinema on the roof.
  • There are 8 major planets (Pluto debate ensued here)
  • Pluto is a dwarf planet
  • The bear (ursa major) is a star constellation that points to the North Star.
  • I learnt that they think there is a new planet and the earth is prettier than I thought

Having read a lot on space over the past years, it was fascinating to visit and pick up something new. Personally I discovered astronomical units and just how far the nearest stars are from us. (Its a looooonnnnggg way!)

As much as I am a fanatic for the London museums, but we are so spoilt to have gems like this on our doorstep. We are due a visit to the Chelmsford Museum soon, we will let you know what we discover there!

Walking the Dog – a real one, not a yo-yo trick

Walking the Dog – a real one, not a yo-yo trick

As part of our de-schooling one of the hardest things I’ve found is trying to convince the boy that he could learn anywhere and everywhere. It doesn’t just happen in a classroom. It’s everywhere. He’s accepted this with aplomb when it comes to Lego funnily enough. As he announces to me most mornings, he’s off to do Lego maths. However, it’s been slightly tougher showing him beyond that bucket of brightly coloured bricks, that there’s a whole world he can learn from.

What we have found works for us whilst we are in this transitional phase is a question and answer exercise. Here is a typical example from a recent jaunt.

Q. Can you remember the names of two different birds that we saw on our walk?

A. Kingfisher and a seagull

Q. How do boats move from one part of the river to another?

A. The lock opens

Q. Can you explain how the answer to the previous question works?

A. They close the first lock and open the second lock so the water flows down, and the open the first lock and the boat gets across and both of the locks close.

Q. Do you know why the meads are important?

A. Because the floods can go on the meads.

Q. Why do you think the river is sometimes higher than others?

A. The rain fills it.

Q. What was your favourite part of the dog walk and why?

A. The kingfisher because I learnt how fast it flies.

What I love about these type of questions is that they work in a number of ways. There are some that have an exact answer, which always boosts the boys confidence by knowing the answer. He is at a stage where he loves to know that he has got something right, and doesn’t rely on hefty interpretation. Then we have started to introduce questions where he needs to reference another source. For example we watched a short clip about how locks work to back up what we knew about locks. We are learning to use books and technology as research tools,  how to build our referencing skills, and getting out in the great outdoors. What better way to learn?

The Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum

I’m never sure which is my favourite museum in London. When we visit each one I change my mind and declare it a favourite, but The Natural History Museum always holds a special place in my heart. Walking in and seeing Dippy in the main hall takes me straight back to being a tot and the feeling of the enormity of it all. After countless visits, I still don’t feel that I’ve seen it all, or even touched the surface.

Here’s what B discovered on our last trip.

You can get to the museum by driving to Canary Wharf and then take the underground to Sother (sic) Kensington

There were 600 different kinds of dinosaurs.

We know that Tyrannosaurus Rex was a meat eater. You can tell because of his teeth.

The biggest animal that ever lived is the blue whale.

We can identify 4 different types of volcano:

  1. strato volcanoes
  2. shield volcanoes
  3. cinder cones
  4. volcanic lava domes

Earthquakes feel scary.

You can tell a smooth rock has travelled further than a rough one, because as it travels it gets smooth.

Fossil Hunting & Rock Collection – Walton on the Naze

Fossil Hunting & Rock Collection – Walton on the Naze

All geared up with our Children’s fossil hunting kit from UKGE, we set off Walton-on-the-Naze to explore. We are so fortunate to live in a part of Essex which is close to the coast for days out like this, and has been a staple of days out since I was little, let alone the boy.

In the past our days to the Naze to see the tower have usually been once the tide has come in and we weren’t quite ready to head home. This was our first expedition down to the beach. We were blessed with a sunny day, albeit pretty fresh, and off we went, haversack on, ready for fossils!

As it turns out, even in an area which is renowned for fossils, they are a little elusive to find. Particularly when you’re 6 and want to run around! So we concentrated on finding items of interest instead. We discovered lots of different rocks and seaweeds, which we can tie in with the Big Seaweed Search.

I love how having a loose plan for a days learning can evolve in so many ways. The things we learnt compared with what I had expected to was much longer…

  • Who knew just how many different types of seaweed you can discover, and how very different they are?
  • That there really are a lot of different birds to spot at the coast. Have to admit, previously I would have classed the whole lot as seagulls.
  • Watching the amazing patterns nature makes in the sand as the tide goes in and out.
  • How smooth muddy rocks compared to shells teach you about friction.
  • The erosion of rocks and coast lines and how man made structures can change this.
  • That most shells are “righthanded” with the exception of the “left handed whelk”.

We’ve been uploading and classifying our finds now that we are home with the help of the Natural History Museum community forums. Which has been a good way to utilise technology with the boy who can be a little tech reluctant.

As we watched the boats come in and out of the docks further along the coast in Harwich we found inspiration for a topic on transport. Its amazing how one thing leads to another, and how we all make connections, usually ones with wheels in our case!

To Half Term or Not to Half Term…

To Half Term or Not to Half Term…

Having only embarked on our home education journey the week before half term, we decided to take a half term ourselves. After all, technically we are still in the deschooling phase ourselves. So we spent a week spending precious time with all of our friends who are in school and whom we rarely get entire days with.

On the whole all seemed pretty normal. From frosty days out to the wonderful Danbury Lakes, where we spent time building dams, to some high speed adrenaline at Adventure Island (or Peter Pans Playground as it will always be to me). It was great to watch B just having fun with friends, and without the ever impending cloud that this would only last for a week.

What struck me away from the safety net of close friends and familiar surroundings is how my little one has lost his confidence. This was the boy who would talk to anyone and try everything before he started school. A reticence from 18 months of bullying is still there. So rather than worrying over what we are going to learn over the coming months, I’m working on getting that confident, exuberant little man back on top form. We will of course be out and about, working on the varied projects B has planned, and writing never ending stories no doubt. But first and foremost I want to see that care free boy who’s intent on changing the world through the power of rollercoasters back.

Watch this space.

Chinese New Year 2016

Chinese New Year 2016

Day 1 of our home education journey and we survived! With no particular plan in place of how our first week was going to pan out, we hopped on the train to London with a loose plan and winged it. With Chinese New Year coinciding with our new foray into home education it was too good an opportunity to miss. Here’s what I thought might happen and what actually did.

  • A journey on public transport.
  • A wander around China Town.
  • A visit to Foyles bookshop.

When I started investigating home education I always believed in the adage that education really is everywhere. Today I learned just how true that is. Our journey on public transport began with the bus. From learning how to use the timetable, to discussing what might affect the bus arriving on time, B was keen to talk and discuss ideas. We spoke about money and numeracy when we bought the tickets for the bus and train. Adding up how much we’d spent so far, and how much we had left. Once we got on the train B planned how we’d get to Leicester Square on the tube, and we researched how the tube stations got their names. We nosed through the Chinese supermarkets and stocked up on ingredients we couldn’t find closer to home. From Chinatown we took a walk to Foyles on Charing Cross Road using the compass on the iPhone. Inspired by Chinese New Year, B chose books on both the New Year celebrations and Chinese writing.

I recently started reading Good Ideas by Michael Rosen, and what struck me was teaching children to make connections. Today has been a good day for that.

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