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!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

January Brings the Snow

We woke on Friday morning to a world of white and the first question on Lily's lips was "Is school cancelled?". It wasn't until the girls were dressed for school that the text message came through telling them want they wanted to know, their school was indeed closed for the day! There was much rejoicing! Unfortunately for Tom his school remained open, although he wasn't unhappy about going. Mark normally drives Tom the mile and a half to school in the morning and it usually takes them all of five minutes to get there. It took them well over half an hour to make the journey on Friday morning and it took Mark an hour to make his twenty minute journey to work. 

The three remaining Podlings and I took the sledges out for a walk behind the house. The snow wasn't very deep, but it was deep enough to drag the little ones through the snow. Lily opted to pull Emma and I pulled Alex and we walked down to the bottom field where we hoped it would be steep enough to sledge on. Everyone was getting cold by the time we got to field and the bitter wind on the exposed hill proved too much for Alex who started asking to go home. This seemed to make Emma realise how cold she was and I was soon walking home with two cold and tearful little people! Lily had to catch us up as she lost her hat on the field. Not, on the whole, one of our more successful winter walks! Everyone soon cheered up when we got home and warmed up in blankets with hot chocolate and shortbread.

There wasn't much snow left today, but Emma wanted to build a snowman so Mark did his best with the snow shovel to pile up what was left on the back lawn. The first attempt to build the snowman had to be aborted as Alex kept jumping on the pile of snow every time it got built up! When he went down for his nap we tried again and managed to make a little baby snowman with the little bit of remaining snow. We put one of Emma's old baby hats on him and Emma named him Mr Marshmallow. Having recently watched 'The Snowman and the Snowdog' together, Alex wanted to know where the snowdog was when he saw the snowman out of his bedroom window! Emma was concerned for Mr Marshmallow's wellbeing when she went to bed, and looking at the rain out of the window, I fear there will not be much of him left tomorrow morning. Here's hoping we will get some more snow later in the winter. 

Making a snowman with your two year old brother can be a frustrating endeavour!

Emma was so proud of Mr Marshmallow!

Mr Marshmallow, the baby snowman

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Happy New Year!

After my parents went back home to Devon, we spent a few days with Mark's parents so we could see in the New Year with them. Tom has been awake to see the New Year in with us for the past couple of years and the girls were determined to stay awake as well this year. Alex was the only one asleep when Big Ben chimed midnight, signifying the beginning of a new year. Emma loved opening the back door to let out the old year as Nanna opened the front door to let in the new one and they loved watching the fireworks. I think it is quite probable that the grown-ups were considerably more ready for bed than the children were when the fun was over! 

Watching the fireworks through the window