Tuesday, 21 February 2017

The Workhouse at Southwell

Last Saturday we visited The Workhouse at Southwell in Nottinghamshire. Built in 1824 with architecture influenced by prison design, it was intended to be the last refuge of the destitute. Being a lover of the works of Charles Dickens and having read 'Shadows of the Workhouse' by Jennifer Worth I have been wanting to visit Southwell workhouse for a long time, so it was wonderful to finally have a chance to look around the well-preserved buildings.
The Podlings enjoyed their visit and were particularly focused on the fact that families were separated when they entered the workhouse and that children were separated from their parents. One of the volunteers told us that even Alex, at two and a half, was right on the borderline of whether he would have been allowed to stay with his mother or not. They loved the schoolroom and had endless fun with the water pump in the courtyard. In the gift shop, both of the girls spent some of their pocket money on a slate and stylus and Lily bought a whip and top, although only, I suspect, because she wanted the whip!
It was well worth the visit and I know we would like to go again at some point.
This was where the old and infirm men would eat

The kitchens where the plain and meagre food was prepared. Meat was only served three times a week and photographs showing the portions served at each meal show that everyone must have been hungry!

The Podlings loved the school room and would have loved to have played here longer

One of the able-bodied men's dormitories

The water pump was a source of much entertainment!

I loved this!

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Valentine's Day

Baskets of treats and cards made by Mummy awaited the Podlings on the morning of Valentine's Day, along with the special treat of pink iced doughnuts for breakfast. Alex was understandably thrilled to be greeted with a basket of sweets and was soon tucking in to strawberry laces! I greeted the girls from school with pink foil wrapped chocolate lollipops and they came home and started on the baking for our Valentine's tea (Tom prefers not to join in these days). Lily made the fairy cakes and they decorated them together. I had bought some pink and red fondant icing so the girls could make some decorations for the cakes. Lily really enjoyed this and made some really lovely decorations. I made the larger cake and then Lily had a free hand in decorating it. She did a lovely job. We sat down to a lovely Valentine's tea together where we all consumed far too much sugar!

Our Valentine's tea

Lily's very pretty Valentine's cake.

Lily, Emma and Alex had fun decorating the fairy cakes

I made this wreath last summer, but it seemed appropriate to bring it out for Valentine's Day

Little Emma received her first Valentine from a little boy in her class. So sweet!

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Through the Rabbit Hole at Erddig House

On Sunday we packed up a picnic and drove to Wales to visit Erddig House near Wrexham. We wanted to do the Alice in Wonderland trail there before it finishes at the end of January. The house itself is closed for the winter, but the garden has been turned into Wonderland by a team of artists and sculptors and they have done a lovely job. I love the book, so I tried to bring the story alive for them as we walked around the garden. Emma is a particularly imaginative child who delights in make-believe and she thoroughly enjoyed pretending to be small after drinking from an imaginary 'Drink Me' bottle and then being quite anxious to find the sculpture of the caterpillar so we could eat some of the mushroom to grow big again. We had a really lovely time following the trail through the garden and the Mad Hatter's tea party was wonderful. It thoroughly delighted my sense of whimsy and Emma and Alex in particular loved pretending to eat the very realistic pretend cakes.
It was a very cold day, so we were very glad of our hot winter picnic. We warmed up with tea, soup and sausages in the car park before climbing back in the car and heading back home.  I thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Wonderland and we intend to go back in the warmer months and explore the house and estate further.
This bold little chap hopped into the ticket office and explored behind the counter whilst we were in there and then posed beautifully for me outside.

There was a dress-up area, so Emma was in her element

There were distorting mirrors to make you appear bigger and smaller, like Alice in the story. Alex really loved these, especially the one that made him bigger.

Two little caterpillars

I'm late, I'm late!

Alex thought the Cheshire cat was a tiger...Emma found it rather scary!

She's getting so grown-up this one!

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum


Alex looking longingly at the pretend cake and, I suspect, wishing it was real!

The Mad Hatter's tea party was so beautifully laid out and was my favourite part of the trail.

This squirrel was having the time of his life on the bird feeder!

Painting the roses red

A winter picnic. Tom was very cold and opted to sit in the car.


Monday, 16 January 2017

Celebrating Tom's Success

Tom has had his own YouTube channel for nearly two years now. For a boy who often has problems in the real world, it has given him somewhere he can just be himself and I believe it has really helped him. He started out doing Minecraft gaming videos and is now making his own object shows. He has taught himself how to use PowerPoint and is using it to make and animate his own shows and I am so impressed with how much he is learning and how creative he can be with it. When Tom becomes interested in something he really immerses himself in it and his shows get better and better with every episode. I am so proud of what he has achieved with it.
Tom has seen a slow and steady increase in subscribers over his time on YouTube, but the end of last year saw a sudden surge in subscriber numbers, mostly due, I think, to his most recent object show. I told him that when he hit 1000 subscribers I would make him a cake and this week he hit the magic number! I made him a chocolate cake with lots of chocolate on top and we celebrated his success with a special tea. The chocolate 'wall' on the cake is a reference to Tom's YouTube name.
Well done Tom...keep up the good work!