About Me

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I am a home educating mum of 2 living in the Northwest of England. I long to travel with my family (including the fluffs) to see the world and have amazing adventures, because life is too short to worry about paying off a mortgage!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Visit to Hayes Fairy and Dragon World

Hooray the schools have gone back after Easter so we can start venturing out again. Honestly when you get so used to the quiet of venues during term time it's like some form of torture having to visit during the holidays.

Now the schools are back we excitedly booked in for the Fairy and Dragon World at Hayes garden centre in Ambleside. Having visited the last two events they have put on (fairy and Santa) we were pretty excited to see this one and expectations were high. The verdict? I have to say I think this one was their best yet.

JJ the knight and Miss L the unicorn
For those not in the know a small part of the centre is transformed into a sensory, twinkling wonderland that awakens the wonder in every young child and even the parents! 
Think lots of twinkling fairy lights, atmospheric fog, sensual sounds and running water not to mention so many things to see that it's guaranteed you'll probably miss a load of it!

The little ones get to choose this year whether they are a dragon slaying knight or a unicorn and they select the appropriate head wear (Miss L was less enthusiastic about wearing her horn but JJ loved his helmet).

Then you enter and the fun begins, Expect 30mins of ooohing and ahhhing and getting way too excited over fairy ornaments than you ever thought possible!

One of the clues
A mini activity

I don't want to give too much away for those intending on visiting as half the fun is in the unexpected, but honestly my photos don't even begin to do it justice and I won't let on too much as to the content of crafts, goodies and the trail etc.....
Fairy flower trees, pretty in pink
Watch out it's a dragon!
One thing that really stands out so far is the thought that has clearly gone into this year on year and this year's has definitely been my favourite so far; the format of arriving at your time slot and wandering through at your own pace made it feel more relaxed and the meandering path was perfect for our little ones.

A little quiz and trail help keep the amusement going, I think all kids love a good spot the XXX (insert anything really) and the mini craft makes at the end were a lovely addition.

Unicorn horn hoopla

We felt that it's great value for money too as not only do you get entry, plus crafts, plus the experience but you also get a little lunch box full of lovely nibbles, a mini prize for completing a task and a goodie bag which the kids loved, all for a mere £10 per child (adults £2 each). For the effort that's gone into it and all the little surprises it leaves the feeling that it's a reasonable price tag.

Needless to say we also came away with a, very well priced, professional photo on a magnet, really who can resist??

Suffice to say it was a great afternoon out and we'll be hugely looking forward to whatever they come up with next. JJ has already been asking to go back so it just shows how well it's captured the kids' imagination!

If you're close by or on a visit to the Lakes, book in and visit I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Making The Best Of A Bad Day

We set off Good Friday, some might say rather optimistically, to head to a friends near Cheshire way. A stint down the M6 and M56 is not pleasurable any day of the week but on a packed Easter weekend it added another dimension of hell. Particularly seeing the queues we'd have to face getting back home again, clearly everyone was heading to the Lakes! 

Long story short a 90min journey turned into a 140min journey and when still about an hour away from our destination with 2 hungry kids, excited dogs and a potential car sickness inducing road ahead we were forced to stop and rethink. 
Plans duly postponed for another less agonising day we opted for a pub lunch which was refreshingly tasty and then stumbled on nearby Apple Jacks Adventure Farm.


Here's where the day of driving up and down a motorway was saved!!
What a gem of a place.

Miss L Excited by the Zip Line (Age 6+ though sadly for her)

It's an outdoor adventure delight for bored, energetic kids and their M6 jaded parents.
JJ's entrance was free, Miss L a concession and £8 for adults so it's not pocket draining. We had a dilemma as no dogs allowed so my husband volunteered (gallantly) to stay in the car and give the dogs a walk, (returned later to find him asleep hmmmm!) 

Once the kidders and I headed in it was remarkably quiet but then given the crappy weather it wasn't a surprise really. It's a huge place and the first thing to keep the little ones amused was the large play area (naturally). It's a lovely space where you can easily sit in the centre and allow them to run riot from one 'section' to another.

Map, it's huge!!

Miss L loved the huge inflatable slide, JJ loved the climbing frame, I loved the fence maze and they both loved the giant bouncy pillow (as it happens it's exactly as it sounds!). 

Running through the fence maze - it was harder than it looked!

One thing I really noticed and couldn't fault was the energy from all the staff, who all seemed to be teenagers, I don't think I spotted one adult! They were friendly, chatty, helpful and really engaged with the kids, especially in the mini show, with hardly any audience, yet the girls still gave it their all which was lovely to see. Teens don't always get a good rap these days but the park should be proud of their guys they really did it proud.

All in all it certainly turned around what started out as a flop of a day and pleasantly passed a few hours despite impending drizzle.

So if you live nearby, are passing or don't mind a long drive to it I'd certainly recommend trying it out, your kids will love you for it I'm sure.

You'll be glad to know we made it home relatively unscathed, all the earlier traffic buildup no doubt now stuck on some winding Windermere road instead, it's times like these where I'm glad Morecambe isn't a hub of tourist activity!

Main morals of this story; visit Apple Jacks, never venture out of the house at Easter, particularly Good Friday.

In fact just don't use the M6 full stop......

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Reflections On My Own Education & How My Careers Advice was Crap!

Recently I spent a portion of the day poring over my old high school reports and after digesting 6 years of education condensed into a neat paragraph per subject I feel like I've gleaned a few interesting things from them. It's funny that, when read individually each year, these things just weren't noticeable at all but when read back to back certain patterns emerge, in fact you could say they are almost glaringly obvious now.

For starters, consistently across the 6 years these phrases crept up again and again:

Love the Artwork?? 

I was frequently praised for my "good attitude", being hardworking, organised and pleasant, all positive so far, yet there were always undertones of not doing as well as expected particularly in exams, I was criticised for being too quiet in class and I apparently had trouble applying concepts to topics (no change there then).

interestingly though the overall focus on every report was how I wasn't living up to expectations in my exams and needed to study more/revise better/do more practice on old exam papers etc etc.

Surely in those 6 years someone must have thought 'this kid just aint good at exams'???

There's a little part of me that feels sad for my younger self, going through school thinking I was crap academically, never quite good enough. Yet now re-reading these I've found little glimmers of hope, the true me, my actual strengths. Honestly all this information would have been much more useful when I was 20 but who re-reads their school reports really?

It's certainly made me question the guidance that young people get in schools. As part of careers we were given a large book full of jobs and their descriptions to look through and that was about it (although maybe things have changed now?). No dedicated teacher chatting to other teachers finding out what you're good at, where your strengths lie etc, and what a huge shame that is. Imagine a school where they actually put resources into actively pinpointing your interests with you, finding your 'element' as Ken Robinson would put it, I certainly could have benefited from that I'm sure.

For example, it turns out my best marks and comments were in design and technology something I just never realised I was particularly good at, having that pointed out to me may have resulted in a complete change in direction.

The other thing that I noticed was how I gelled with a teacher was so important to how well I did in a subject. I was unfortunate enough to have been stuck with a particular teacher I just couldn't settle with for a few years in a couple of subjects, once that teacher changed wow, things improved majorly.

Grab a brew and your old reports and get reading!
I have over the year had a good few wobbles in my decision to home ed, reading these however has certainly helped me realise more reasons why I want to continue as long as I can.
If I can help guide my children from a better position in terms of their strengths and weaknesses, if I can more fluidly nurture their true passions and exclude things they really have no interest in then maybe they can forge a successful and, more importantly, happy career ahead of them. It's hard for a parent to really know these kinds of details if they are relying on a busy teacher who has multiple kids to monitor and it's no surprise really that the kinds of career advice I got was what it was, I understand the limitations of school funding and time, and feel for overworked teachers, yet if they could put as much effort into guiding young people rather than having to constantly focus on grades, grades, grades then maybe we'd have a happier, more satisfied and successful workforce today?

So when you get a spare few minutes on a sunny Sunday afternoon, grab a coffee, biscuit and all your reports and honestly try reading through them. See what patterns emerge for you and if there are any surprises, and then if you have older kids make them read theirs!!!

I'd love to hear if other people find it useful and discover things about themselves they never realised. It's sad really that it's taken me all these years to realise I had clues to some real passions all those years ago and yet never quite fitted the pieces together....