baking, cooking, crafts, create, key stage 2, kids

Fforest gather – a new kind of family holiday

Cheese makingOh…what a summer it’s been… the best yet, and August has been marvellous, the weather fine, and family time together just so special as our boys get older – they are more independent and dare I say a little ‘feral’ this year? We’ve had the best of times and made new friends, made memories, and given us something to look forward to next summer too – why? what? how? you ask? Well, a week at Fforest gather, that’s what!

If you’ve not heard about Fforest gather – you’re clearly not following me on the instagram – or @coldatnight, which you should remedy forthwith – follow us here and here… It’s through instagram that I, and it transpires, chatting to fellow campers at Fforest gather, many others, have ‘met’ Sian and fallen in love with what she and husband James have been doing in Cardigan, Wales for the last couple of years…

A small intimate ‘festival’, not really a festival, but that explains the basis of the event – week long holiday with accommodation (optional, you can also bring your own tent/camper van) and daily workshops you won’t want to miss… a new kind of holiday in fact! Two family friendly weeks of adventures in nature, music, culture, creativity and simple pleasures.

view from our group tentWe stayed in one of the ‘group tents‘ – our family in one end, in two bedrooms, and our friends and their three small children in the facing ‘tent’. We brought our own sleeping bags and pillows, and the shared bathrooms a short walk away were positive luxury compared to some campsites we’ve stayed in! The group tents have a communal cooking, and eating area in the centre – and an amazing view across the fields. However, after trying the first catered meal in the canteen, we decided that we’d ditch the camp cooking, and eat with the majority of the other campers – the breakfast and evening meals were just amazing – and the dining area was super conducive to socialising too.

supper time

The beauty of the Fforest gather is that the workshops, talks, walks, performances and activities are all included in the ticket price. Two sessions a day, one at a very civilised 10am, and the afternoon sessions start at 2pm – Between our two families, we tried Screenprinting, Nature illustration; natural dyeing, canoeing, Tamsin with her pencil and puppet making, Bees make honey with the honey farm, making bacon, smoking fish, making cheese,  cooking with fire; axe & knife craft; yoga and wellness; drumming; beer cocktail classes; bird illustrations, silver ring making;  forest school sessions; den building; tree climbing; wild swimming and learnt about foraging with Jade and coppicing with Bruce – woah, all in one week?!

the pubThe evenings were equally entertaining, with, Music from Eyre Llew, and DJs and chatting, and Fforest Island discs, and beer drinking at the adorable little ‘Bwthyn pub‘. Candle lit, and roaring fire – this little pub is located at the heart of the Fforest camp.

A brief selection of our favourite workshops:
Natural dyeing with Hazel Stark – Indigo Shibori (a Japanese pattern technique) – we were so blessed with the weather, so a day spent outside in the Fforest vegetable gardens, patiently folding, pegging and dipping our canvas tote bags was well spent.

Indigo Dye
Indigo Dye

Bird drawing with Matt Sewell, such a delight; as was the glasses onto inanimate objects with Finn Thomson making faces and giving objects sight – such a fun workshop! Seeing objects – using wire, paper, glue, and a LOT of imagination, in the project barn.

Screenprinting was a really big hit with Lex from Feather studios and her patient partner @morganhenryjames.

 

Cheese making was a revelation (and made for the best photos! #instagramthat) Curds and whey with cheese chief Max – who it transpires, can also tell a tale, and sing a song….

Beer O ClockBeer was high on the agenda, with Evil Gordon doing a turn talking beer cocktails, Beerbods, and sourdough bread making in the wood fired oven.

Jade Wild Pickings

And then there was foraging! @wildpickings 🍃🌿 Jade took us on a walk; foraging for edible hedgerow wonders – we’ve learnt such a LOT this week 🍃🌿

Oh and Sam! The Newquay Honey Farm Man – brilliant and enchanted!

Seriously, this is an event/holiday/week long party I would recommend – such a lovely way to spend time with your family.
We went with good friends, and came away with even more…

 

beer-cocktails-backstage-fforest-gather
The Farmhouse
bandcamp-beer-fforest-gather
Music from Eyre Llew
beer-cocktails-fforest-gather
Beer cocktails in the Farmhouse
coppice-college-sign-fforest-gather
Coppice College

 

coppice-college-tols-fforest-gather
In the tool shed
walk into Cardigan to visit the PizziTipi
walk into Cardigan to visit the PizziTipi
Sunset over the Tipi
Sunset over the Tipi
Forage baskets
Forage baskets
making Sour dough
making sour dough
Coppice College Woodburner
Coppice College Woodburner

 

Time to plan for 2017… 14-27 August www.fforestgather.co.uk
A new kind of holiday.
Two family friendly weeks of adventures in nature, music, culture, creativity, making, growing & simple pleasures.
500 acres of bliss. Only 300 tickets available each week.
Week 1 – Monday 14th – Sunday 20th of August
Week 2 – Monday 21st – Sunday 27th of August
2017 EARLY BIRD TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE!
TO FIND OUR MORE ABOUT FFOREST CLICK HERE
Accommodation released on 29th of September 2016.

Ali also writes over on aGreenerLifeforus.com

charity, create, education, gardening, gardening with kids, key stage 2, kids, life

Q&A with a community gardener

Q&A with a community gardener

Hannah and Kevin

Community gardener and founder of yourspace.sutton Kevin Plicio runs local community garden nursery Seears Park Nursery in Sutton. This nursery runs on pure volunteer manpower and community spirit, running training courses and therapeutic activities in a calming and peaceful environment. He has been running the beautiful non-profit nursery for almost six years, transforming it from a run-down nursery to a social and stunning community hub which has just recently been opened to the public.

As his daughter, Hannah, I’ve grown up around the transformation of the park, seeing it go from overgrown and slightly wild, to open space and inviting. Perfect for family days out and picnics, the nursery offers scenic and photogenic open areas, free for the public to utilise.

13118933_577749772401247_5145497625308435159_n13119073_577749822401242_8007960149422514965_nQ- So, tell us about what made you want to run a community project?
Well, the idea originally stemmed from me working at other projects, but these projects were all tailored to one specific group of people, or had one specific service, and I wanted to do something more socially integrating and open to all users, regardless of their background, age, or ability.

Q- What is there to see?
Honestly, there’s so much! We have this really great pond that’s just teeming with life, frogs, fish, newts, and even in the evening we get the occasional duck family coming to stay – it’s such a sight! We also have vegetable patches, some art display inside the main classroom from a local artist Santiago Plicio, the polytunnels have a great plant selection, including a great cactus area. We’re also in the process of making smaller gardens as part of the garden nursery, where 6 out of the 16 planned are complete. We also have this really stunning willow circle, which is just beautiful.

photo-1465405269228-024e4723a8d9
thanks to Stephanie Krist for this photo

Q- Tell us about your volunteers, and who helps run the nursery.
We have quite a large group of volunteers here at the nursery, and without them, there would be no way that the place could be running. Some people volunteer for a month, and some have been volunteering for years, and we appreciate every bit of help we get. Their generosity and time is something I’m always going to be so grateful for.

Q- You’ve just opened to the public for the first time in almost six years, how does that feel?
It feels amazing, we’ve been getting this place ready for the public for so long and now it feels as if our work is finally paid off, and we can do what we’ve always set out to do, create a community project that everyone can benefit for. We’ve been running training courses and school placements for years which is so amazing, but now we can finally make it open to everyone, which was always the plan. We now run a plant sale every Saturday from 10:00am until 4:00pm, and the nursery is otherwise open Monday-Thursday from 9:30 until 5:30.

sale

Q- Got any last words or comments that you want everyone to know?
I’d just love to see you there! Bring your friends, family, dogs, come and experience and enjoy the nursery, see what’s here, and if you want to contribute in any way then we’d love to hear from you too!

 

Seears Park Nursery is open to the public from 9:30am-5:30pm Monday to Thursday, and 10:am-4:00pm on a Saturday for the plant sale and general public use. Follow them on Facebook for events and updates here

Note from Ali – Thank you so much, Hannah, for introducing me to your dad’s amazing community project. Here’s a picture of a pond that my 13-year-old son made, with the addition of the Junctus that he bought from the Nursery!

13652431_980345098746058_2050378783_n

Written by Hannah Plicio-Keattch

crafts, key stage 2, kids

How to melt crayons into a rainbow!

How to melt crayons into a rainbow!

melted-CRAYON-rainbowIf like us, the kids have got a bit bored of crayons, don’t despair – there are creative things you can do with them!

Did you know about the hashtag #kidscrafts101? Every week, Maggy @redtedart, Me, (ali) @incredibusy and Ana @babbledabbledo – set an instagram challenge, with a ‘theme’ and this week in question was rainbows – now, we have a few rainbow crafts on the blog that we can call upon, however, having teenagers and pre-teens in the house, it’s good to push and encourage their creativity, as they have become more and more drawn to staring at their screens and not wanting to be quite as creative as they used to be…

So we have FOUND A WAY and that is stop motion animation – so – check this out, we set up a tripod, take a series of photos, and make an animation! What fun…

For this particular craft, we took a square canvas* and some unloved crayons, and got busy, you can watch the stop motion in the youtube link below….

You will need:
A Canvas
Some Crayons
Hair Dryer
Glue Gun (or tape, glue gun is quick and easy though!)

ALI-TITLE-FOR-youtube-video-CRAYON-rainbowWatch the video here for instructions, basically, glue the crayons to the top half of the canvas.

Prop the canvas at an angle and start warming the crayons with the hair dryer.

Move the hair dryer to the top of the crayons, and start heating from the top so that they melt DOWN… note, the red didn’t melt as fast as the other colours, yet it still looks OK in the final result.

Lower the canvas to a smaller angle so that the crayons don’t drip off the end of the canvas, have fun, and don’t worry if the crayons ‘splatter’ that’s all part of the fun and creativity!

Let us know if you have a go too…

close-up-melted-crayons-on-canvas

melted crayons on canvas

Ali also blogs at aGreenerLifeforus.com and FunCraftsKids.com
Find Ali on instagram as @incredibusy too for other instagram photo challenges such as #sgiew (so good in every way!)

key stage 2, kids

So thirteen yeas on, and struggling to find original birthday party ideas?
Firstly, what? A mother of a teenager?

Now I’m over that… I still have to bake a cake and organise some fun because even though he’s thirteen now, he’s still my baby and expecting to be pampered! So I’m handing the blog over to him to tell you what we got up to….

paintballing-KidsChaos-DeltaForce_helmetTHIRTEEN YEAR OLD WRITES:

“last weekend for my 13th birthday I went to to Delta Force‘s amazing paintball experience with my friends. I went having heard about how epic it was from my younger 11yo brother as he had been for his friend’s birthday.paintballing-KidsChaos-DeltaForce_teamHe described it as one of the ‘best experiences ever’, and when I got there it totally lived up to my expectations. It even surprised my Dad at how fun it was to run around splattering people with bright paint. We went to six different areas and played two games in each of them, my personal favourite was the Berlin Wall where there is a massive wall and sniper towers on each side. We played capture the flag witch was fun and really exhilarating (and my team won!)paintballing-KidsChaos-DeltaForce_paint-splat

I also really enjoyed speed-ball which was a barren wasteland with only barrels to protect your team; speed-ball was a ‘last man standing’, and although our team lost it was really funny because my dad threw a paint bomb (for 18s and over only) into a building and sparks came out through the window then a wave of red paint and finally a long trail of people trudged out of the building covered head to toe in paint.

With or without the paintbombs, Delta Force is an amazing paintball facility were you can experience hours of tireless fun and I would really recommend it to everyone. :D”

paintballing-KidsChaos-DeltaForce_entranceIt’s quite some organisational feat – and located in some beautiful countryside… I had a chat with the venue manager in Surrey, he told me that Delta Force entertain over 600,000 kids each year!
There was a good mix of boys, and girls playing on the Saturday morning, from age 10 up, and for smaller kids, they offer mini ball at selected centres for kids aged 8-10 years old; featuring lighter, less powerful equipment and halved playing times – all in all a great day out, if a little wet and muddy! Nobody seemed to mind the weather though, and they can’t wait to go again!

baking, key stage 2, kids

September means birthday cakes in our house, and every year the boys put in their requests for party fun and cake style and flavour… from a Star Wars themed Yoda, to a Dragon (same food colouring, so that was OK!) through to your standard Lemon Drizzle Cake… This year however, the party request was for trampolining, ‘free jumping’ and his OWN chocolate cake recipe! So 10yo-soon-to-be-11yo spent the evening before his birthday MAKING and BAKING his own cake, and a quick dash for some Maltesers in the morning, decorated it himself before we bundled five of his friends off to Acton for some bouncing action over at Oxygen FreeJumping.
RB-cakeWell, we couldn’t be more impressed – all of us (five boys, and two mums) LOVED it – we started off with a game of dodge-ball – this was a great introduction, as we weren’t quite sure where to try first – the Oxygen FreeJumping staff were lovely and organised a game, explaining the rules, so we got stuck straight in! And guess what? I won!Acton-oxygen-dodgeballthis-place-is-jumpingThe design of the venue is stunning, the bold bright blues and yellows are really striking – loved the strong graphics – this place really IS jumping.

The boys’ absolute favourite activity was the Gladiator style jousting area over a large pool of blue foam… they spent AGES battling and giggling, and tumbling into a pit of spongy foam blocks.

I personally loved bouncing on the trampolines around the basketball hoops, probably because a simple bounce helped you score with EVERY throw!

Every participant wears a pair of ‘jumping socks’ which caused some amusement, and then delight that they got to keep them – and it was great to see the kids having such a brilliant time on the expanse of trampolines – we so want to go again!

socks-at-oxygen

jump-at-oxygen

Acton-oxygen
A big thank you to the team at Oxygen FreeJumping, for their fabulous facilities, great family fun, and to the cafe staff who also made us so welcome with great coffee too.

Find out more here:
www.oxygenfreejumping.co.uk


Ali also blogs over on aGreenerLifeforus.com and FunCraftsKids.com and is a lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!

cooking with kids, key stage 2, life

With two boys, who seem to be growing bigger every week, we are doing that thing of contemplating extending the back of the house. When they were small, pre-school, it didn’t seem so crucial to have separate living and playing areas – Although, as they got to school age, establishing the sitting room as the ‘grown-up room’ gave back some tranquility and escape from the lego.
pozushoes
And now they are nearly as tall as me, we’ve had to buy bigger beds, with built in desk and wardrobe space, and had to rethink the downstairs living area…

As you know, we love ‘family cooking time’ where we bake and cook together as a family, yet these boys take up a LOT of room in our galley kitchen these days.

The kitchen is one area that we have not changed since moving in, and I LOVE our old Edwardian kitchen floor though, ridiculous as that sounds, these tiles make is so hard! It’s something I have been struggling to come to terms with inevitably having to say goodbye to these beautiful old tiles – unless we can find a way to incorporate them into a new layout!

Glass box kitchen extension, Richmond : Modern kitchen by Holland and Green

So we’ve been looking at LOADS of different kitchen layout designs, to find a way to do this, perhaps with a glass box extension, to let in more light, without taking too much of our small mid terrace garden?

Or shall I just bite the bullet and go for something completely different and accept that change is as good as a rest as they say? There’s always the option of finding some new rather lovely tiles to play with! – watch this space!
Modern kitchen by Pixcity
crafts, create, education, key stage 2, kids, monster

Piper – a Minecraft toolbox for anyone to create and invent with technology. Build electronics. Invent power-ups. Create the future.

So – the kids were pretty excited last week to hear from Mark at Piper all about their fabulous new toolbox for budding engineers who happen to like Minecraft!
As a family we tend to use ‘screentime’ as a reward at the end of the week, for best behaviour, and finishing homework without it being an excruciating teeth-pulling exercise. Minecraft is their favourite ‘go to’ game, and without further ado, read what our 10yo thought of Piper, and then watch the video!

In short, my son, 10yo RB says this:

“Minecraft toolbox – Build electronics with Piper. Piper is brilliant for seven and ups. I think it is really awesome because the instructions are in the game so it would make children and adults interested in making things outside of the game. Minecraft is a good way to get people that like Minecraft to play it. It will make a brilliant Christmas or birthday gift. It will entice people to play because it is easy to build so you can get started really quickly.  Raspberry Pi is what all of the software runs on. Raspberry pie is a mini computer if you’ve got all the right equipment and gadgets luckily all of that comes in a really well made wooden box. The screen comes readymade and all fits in.

There are ten action-packed levels to complete in the game. You have to make your own buttons and fit the wires in the right places. The mouse comes with the box so you can look around.

There are lots more interesting exciting things about the game but they are for you to find out.”

RB Age 10 says – “NOW watch this video!”

How it works:

– First you assemble the wooden toolbox and connect it with the Raspberry Pi 2, a 7 inch LCD display, a power bank, and an assortment of electronics.

– Once assembled, you enter a Minecraft adventure map viewable on the LCD screen.

– Your Mission: guide a robot to rescue astronauts on a foreign planet. The robot’s hardware is damaged on the way over, and you have to build it in real-life to control the robot in the game to save the day!

How this educates kids:

– Each gadget you build gives you a special power-up and progresses you through the game

– First build the controller to navigate your robot. Add switches to activate hidden bridges and doors. A row of lights to serve as a proximity sensor and more.

If you want to find out more, click here. Piper are on facebook and twitter.

Ali also blogs over on aGreenerLifeforus.com and FunCraftsKids.com and is a new lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!

chinese new year, crafts, FREE printables, key stage 2, kids, life

Hand Coloured Chinese Lanterns

Chinese New Year PrintablesMy little blonde boys are both incredibly fascinated by the Orient, and at the beginning of every year are keen to go to Chinatown to celebrate Chinese New Year. We are lucky enough to be close to London’s Chinatown and a couple of years ago they bought some rather lovely window clings, graphic and colourful, but really too big for their bedroom windows in our Edwardian house.

Chinese-New-Year-Printables-KidsChaos-4Chinese-New-Year-Printables-KidsChaos-3 So this year, we came up with a fun way of making their own, from a template I created here (and if you click here and here you can download and print these Chinese New Year printables yourself too).

You will need:

Printable-Chinese-New-Year-graphics-KidsChaos-2-of-21) Print off the Chinese New Year printables template here and here
2) Packet of Sharpie Pens (*which you can get here in the UK  and here in the US)
3) Pack of Clear CD wallets or any plastic stationery sleeves
4) Blu tack

Instructions:

Printable-Chinese-New-Year-graphics-KidsChaos-1-of-21) once you’ve printed off the Chinese New Year printables template, blu tack the clear plastic cd wallet into position over the graphic and start tracing around the illustration with a black sharpie pen.

2) Then simply colour in with a selection of reds, yellow, oranges. Or if you fancy a change, try a range of greens and blues – that looks great too!

3) When you’ve finished, take the CD wallet and blu tack it to the window! voila!Chinese-New-Year-Printables-KidsChaos-5

To watch a video of how we did these Chinese New Year printables, pop over to Red Ted Art’s YouTube channel here where we have made a guest appearance (again!) showing you how to do this, you’ll notice that I got bored with the colouring in bit, and Maggy had to take over… as a Chinese inspired art project however, both of my boys LOVED doing these, and it kept them busy and quiet for AGES!
10 yo specifically asked for a sheep… as it IS year of the sheep!

Ali also blogs over on aGreenerLifeforus.com and FunCraftsKids.com and is a new lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!

 *affiliate links for your convenience… 🙂

crafts, create, key stage 2, kids

Traditional Paper Star

The boys just love a paper craft, and we can thank our lovely friend Maggy for that (she told me to say that…) – Maggy taught them how to make origami paper boats when they were very little, and now at 10, the youngest is forever making Ninja Stars, Jumping Frogs and Paper cranes – and now his latest, the Traditional Paper Star.traditional paper star

For this lovely origami traditional Paper Star you need 14-15 square origami sheets, of various colours (we tried to persuade him to make them in Christmas colours, however, he is ‘his own man’ and went with these colours!) It literally only takes minutes to learn how to make this!

Fold each piece of paper to the long triangular shape, follow the youtube instructions linked here… demonstrated by the lovely Maggy from RedTedArt… and insert one into another until you join the first with the last to create this star shape – how lovely, we’ll be hanging this creation on the Christmas Tree next weekend!

Ali also blogs over on aGreenerLifeforus.com and is a new lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!