Monday, 14 April 2014

Hello-hurrah - what a nice day - for the Eden Project

Yesterday, Mr P-L, Pickle-Lily and I headed off to St.Austell  for a day at the Eden Project. I used my Tesco club card points so entrance didn't cost any real money, although I did pre-book for Mr P-L and P to go on the SkyWire.
Inside the Rainforest Biome
We had a fabulous day, it wasn't nearly as busy as I'd thought it would be, and the sun was out!
First up, was the chocolate trading trail through the Rainforest Biome. We met Mayan ladies, some very cheeky Conquistadors and a very warm Victorian lady serving imaginary hot chocolate! I, off course embarrassed teenage daughter, by playing along with the role-play and joining in with the activities. We also made our own small chocolate bar!
Burnt wood sculptures

Hanging sculptures

Inside the Rainforest Biome

WEEE man sculpture
Mr P-L and P then went for a 'go' on the SkyWire - England's longest zipwire, whilst I sat knitting in the sunshine with two friendly robins for company, as I waited for them to zip overhead!
knitting in the sunshine
Lunch was very pleasant, although be warned if you have a fussy eater there isn't much in the way of  plain or simple food available.
These are called Ballerina - I want some!

Then we went to the Mediterranean Biome - which was perfect. There were the most amazing displays of tulips. Beautiful colours and textures. We finished the visit with an ice-cream in the sunshine visiting the outside gardens. we managed to take 137 photos and 2 videos - so these are just a select few!


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Bye bye birdie

For the last few weeks of term the school has been having a 'Blackbird Watch'. A pair of blackbirds built a nest outside the library window and the children and staff having been watching them hatch their eggs. It has been brilliant watching them (both adults and children) stand so still, be very quiet and just look.
Blackbird Watch in action!
We have been amazed by how hard the parents work feeding their four chicks, how bright the yellow eye is on the Mr Blackbird, how quickly they grew in two weeks and just how do they fit in the nest!
The last day was spent waiting for the biggest two to fledge, they spent most of the day it seemed perched on the nest edge but never being quite brave enough. I have no doubt that when we return to school after the Easter holidays, the nest will be empty, but you never know the parents may return and lay a second clutch.
2 weeks old now!
In honour of their hard work - and I thought I worked hard - I have redesigned my little birds with bright yellow eyes for the blackbirds and beautiful tail feathers.
blackbird needle book
Now to research the questions the children have asked and I didn't know the answers for..
Why are blackbird's eggs blue?
How do they make their eggs blue?
Do you know the answers?

Sunday, 23 March 2014

A clan, an array, a scurry and a skulk

I realised the other day that I didn't know the collective noun for a group of badgers, so I looked it up, and one of them is a clan, I really like that, don't you?
Badger badges
I have been invited to take part in a local wildlife rescues weekend fund raising event - based on badger cubs, the only proviso being that I can only sell animal themed goodies. So I have been busy tweaking the hedgehogs ( an array of hedgehogs by the way), have left the foxes as they are ( a skulk), added a squirrel badge to the collection ( a scurry) and created a badger.
I must say that I am very pleased with my badger - he is now on needle books, badges and notebooks.
needle books and badges

If you would like to come and meet some badger cubs Secret World Wildlife Rescue is open from Friday 18th to Monday 21st April, and Pickle-Lily will be there on the Monday for the day.
You can see my original woodland animals here.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Indoor Outdoor

The past few months in Somerset have been somewhat soggy, so the forest school area quickly became a mud bath and we made the decision to stay out of it. Some days the rain was so torrential that we even decided to stay inside as the children would have been soaked in seconds.

Simple bird cakes
So we had some indoor outdoor forest school sessions. Our theme was inspired by garden birds, and to get us started we played a great game on the RSPB website.  Rook's Binocular Birdwatch helped us to learn a few of the birds we might see in a fun and engaging way.
We then made our own paper bird planes using the template from Nature Detectives, making sure we used the right colours that we had learnt with Rook.
Another great session was making simple bird feeders. Made by mixing melted lard with bird seed. A length of wool or string had a big fat knot - the bigger the better - was used to join the ends together to make a loop. The mix was pushed into a plastic cup, The knot was buried well into the mix and then put into the fridge to set.
Packing the mix.
Another activity which engrossed us for ages was building our own bird's nests using only materials we could find around school.
A beautiful nest
Everyone agreed that it wasn't as easy as we thought it would be! Birds only have their beaks and we have two hands!

A nest in a bush - with everything carefully arranged.
We also of course spotted birds around the school - and to our amazement discovered a blackbird nest right outside the library window! We have now started watching the nest, and even though there are lots of people around Mrs Blackbird is still sitting in it. Now if only Springwatch could send us a film crew!
Taken a distance - Mrs Blackird

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Chalkboard pots

I don't know if you do this as well, but I often buy a small pot of spring bulbs to put on a window sill, then plant them out when they've finished flowering, to add colour to the garden or in my pots for next year. Then I promptly forget where I've planted them and add something else!
chalkboard pots
Last week I bought two terracotta plant pots to use at a craft club I go to, got home and then received an email telling me what size I needed, and realised I'd got them too big. So, I decided to use them to plant my latest batch of bulbs in. This time though, I had a cunning plan!
I used some chalkboard paint I already had and painted around the top rim section. My paint came from Wilkinsons, is quite old and rather thick, so one coat was fine for me.
so easy!
When it was dry, I used a waterproof pen to write on the chalkboard section what was in the pots, in my best teacher's handwriting. You could do this for any plants or seeds really, even add details if you need to, and, just repaint if you want to change the contents. The pen I used by the way is a Zig posterman waterproof that I got from a local art shop.
When they've finished flowering, I'll pop them in a corner out of the way, until next spring and know exactly what's in them!
At the moment it is poring with rain, again, and they are looking good! I'm looking forward to joining in with Handmade Monday again and seeing what all the other talented bloggers have been up to.

all planted out in that rare sunny moment

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Little boxes, little boxes

... made of felt and fabric.
I have been making felt bags for a long time now, but I also wanted to make felt boxes. Pickle-Lily is the hand bag queen, but she also has lots of boxes. Her schema is definitely putting things in bags and boxes! So I set to work!
Already full!
My first one, was quite big, based on a 30cm square. I used iron on interfacing to stiffen the fabric, which made turning it out tricky, as it was so stiff. So I downsized my starting squares and am now very, very happy with the finished product.
pencil tub
In fact I got rather carried away with making them. as you can see! P has now asked me to make four with the letters l, o ,v and e on, and she has got a birthday coming up!
reversible felt and fabric boxes
There are lots of tutorials for these out in blogland, but if you would like it, I can do one on here. I'm joining in Handmade Monday this week, and hopefully there'll be no IT issues!!!!

Friday, 21 February 2014

I T was bad!

Little birdies
At the end of January I filled in my tax return on-line, and a few days later I received an email telling me there was a problem detailed in the attached file. And yes, dear reader I opened it :(
I immediately did the thing Mr P-L told me not to do when I spoke to him on the phone later. I shut the computer down - apparently it embeds the nasty bit in the boot system and makes it much more difficult to get rid off.
Luckily, Mr P-L is a computer whizz-kid and could get rid of the nasty bug, rebuild nearly everything and make the computer even better, stronger, faster and it didn't even cost six million dollars!!! I know, the last reference really dates me, for my younger reader, it is similar to a 'vintage' tv programme's opening credits 'The Six Million Dollar Man'.
But, it all took time. So, for several very long weeks, where the younger members of this household berated me and complained about having to change all their passwords, we were without a computer.
The point to my long tale is - if you get such an email - don't open it no matter how real it looks and don't turn the computer off.
blue tit
In the meanwhile, I have been up to all sorts of things, including feeding the birds in my garden. I have a bird feeding station outside my kitchen window and I love watching the birds. Last week, there was an enormous kerfuffle in the garden and son went to investigate. He told me a large pigeon had pinned down a small brown bird and the little bird was squealing. When he opened the back door, the little bird managed to fly away and the 'pigeon' gave him a glare before it too flew off. I asked him if the pigeon was brown with speckles and had orange eyes, which it had, and we then decided a sparrowhawk was more likely!!!
All the visitors inspired me to make some little felt birds to remind me of my garden - so I have made a robin, a blackbird, a chaffinch and a blue tit. They will be in my Folksy shop when I have finished writing this blog post!