Monday, 31 August 2009

Is anyone there?

So, August is all but over and for all the Cookies it was a month full of sun and sea and holidays. Lovely stuff, exactly what we all needed. Early on we visited the Weald and Downland Open Air museum near Chichester, a glorious expanse of green fields with very old houses rebuilt in sympathetic surroundings. You can wander into a medieval market place, take a spin around a maypole, sit in a Victorian schoolhouse and poke around railway workers' tiny cottages.

And if you still have the energy you may be lucky enough to stumble upon someone running an Iron Age cookery course, building fires and making string from stinging nettle stems.

One of the highlights for me was the gorgeous gardens recreated outside many of the cottages - herbs culinary and medicinal, vegetable plots, chickens, and designs that wouldn't look out of place in lifestyle magazines these days.

I visited this museum many, MANY years ago on a primary school trip, and my clearest memory is of this structure jutting out from a very old building:

Can you guess what it is? Apparently it's the one thing most adults remember from their childhood trips to the museum, which might give you a clue ...


Well, if you go inside the 15th century farmhouse, past the richly adorned dining hall and up the stairs to the main bedroom, you'll find a cunning little doorway concealing a garderobe - in other words a bench with a hole in that sticks out over the edge of the house and acts as a primitive toilet. Well, primitive by our standards but we're assured it was the height of sophistication at the time!

Is it wrong to be amused that the privy expert quoted in Wikipedia is called Dr Bottomley?

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

It's August, so it must be raining

The heating on the village pool is kaput, all our playmates seem to be on holiday, so what are we to do to entertain ourselves?

Chocolate day, of course! There are endless hours of fun to be had with two small children and a chocolate themed day.

You can study the frequency of different colours in a single tube of Smarties - and build an edible histogram.

You can use a small bar of chocolate to think about addition, subtraction, fractions ... it's amazing how quickly a child can get the hang of "Which one is larger - a half or a quarter bar?" when they can eat the results.

You can build houses.

And of course, you can revisit classic literature - the biggest treat of all.

And given that I'm meant to be on Michaela's healthy eating plan, I was terrifically restrained and ate only one Smartie and one chocolate button during the entire process. Excuse me while I head off to polish my halo (and conveniently ignore how much cake I inhaled the following day).

Sunday, 2 August 2009

A proud moment

Please indulge me while I brag a little bit about the very talented Mr DC . Not only is he funny, wise, hardworking and the best husband and daddy our little family could hope for, he's also a rather fine singer. Proof of this (if any were needed) came last week when he joined a combined choir from various Cambridge colleges to perform at the Albert Hall in a Prom celebrating 800 years of Cambridge University.

Sadly the only photos are copyright (and I am not going up against the University or the BBC to snag one!) but you can see the best one here. He's there, fifth from the right in the front row of the choir, looking extremely tall and smart - though admittedly you need a magnifying glass to see him. I wish we could have been there - truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and we are very, very proud of him!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

School's out

Yes, OK, I know we broke up two weeks ago but as we know, life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it (bonus points and virtual cookies for anyone old enough to place that quote).

The last few days before the end of term were a flurry of teacher present making and biscuit baking. Here is the latest incarnation of dottycookies - little shortbread flowers and stars with a single Smartie stuck on with royal icing. Small enough to not feel guilty about sending them in as a last-day-of-school class snack, and yummy enough to feel like a treat.

I decided to make sunglass cases for the teachers (I KNOW!!! The July monsoons are all my fault!) as they always need them when they're teaching our little dolphins to swim in the outdoor pool. I ordered the scrumptious fabric from Julia at Gone to Earth, and would highly recommend you visit too - her selection is glorious, her prices are very good and the goodies arrive very quickly and so beautifully folded you hardly want to undo them! These are very basic zip pouches but long and narrow, and I used some of Julia's lovely fusible fleece to give them a bit of body.

I also made bracelets, because I can never resist doing that.

Tall Small made her own presents, and this is something we did for Father's Day too - a stack of post-its with her drawings on the edges and a little message written on the top one. The teachers are always having their post-its pinched (usually by me when I go in to sort out games for maths homework) and this way at least they can identify the offender!

PS Does anyone know why some comments end up needing moderation? I haven't asked blogger for that option and it means every so often I find a few lurking that I wasn't even aware had been posted! Apologies if your comments seem to have been lost in the ether as a result ...