Pop goes the weasel

This morning we woke up to beautiful blue sky. Colin is off work sick, so I decided to seize the opportunity to go somewhere in the car. We quickly got ready (which isn’t actually that quick by the time everyone is appropriately dressed and I’ve packed the coats, hats, gloves, binoculars, camera, field guide, changing bag and pushchair) and off we went to Fremington Quay. We wandered along the quay, watching the many fishermen and spotting little egrets, oystercatchers, redshanks, mallards and gulls. Then we set off along the Tarka Trail, towards a nature reserve called Home Farm Marsh which we’ve never been to before.

We saw so many robins along the path! We also spotted a pair of song thrushes. I remember seeing them quite regularly as a child but sadly these were the first I’ve seen in years. When we got to the nature reserve, there were three sets of stiles and all the gates were padlocked. Not very pushchair friendly! I did consider leaving the pushchair in a hedge but the children weren’t keen on this idea. Then Esther fell down on her bottom into a very muddy puddle, so we decided to turn back.

On the way back, Aaron suddenly stopped and held up his hand for us to be quiet. He had heard rustling in the bank. A few moments later a weasel popped its head out! I’m really glad I took my long camera lens, as I was able to zoom in enough to get a couple of shots. They’re a bit blurry as it was a gloomy area, but I’m pleased to have captured it. After a few seconds it disappeared and then Tabitha caught a glimpse of it in another spot. This is only the second time we’ve seen a weasel in the wild, so it was very exciting!

We headed back towards the estuary and the children played underneath the old railway bridge for a while, throwing stones in the water. Esther thought this was great fun!

Despite my warnings, Aaron almost got stuck in the mud. Just look at the state of those boots!

By now Esther was feeling rather uncomfortable in her wet clothes, so it was time to return to the car.

Our nature walk didn’t quite turn out as I’d planned, but seeing the weasel definitely made up for it. Aaron listed it in his top three favourite nature spots, along with the kingfisher he saw recently! We’ll go back to explore the nature reserve another time, preferably with Colin and a sling!

Storm chasing!

We got up super early this morning (for a Saturday, anyway) and drove to a nearby seaside town to watch the stormy waves at high tide. Upon arrival we discovered a newt in the middle of the car park, so we had a quick look at it before moving it to a safer spot. I don’t know much about newts as we rarely see them, but I think it was a female smooth or palmate newt. We walked around the seafront and harbour in search of the best waves. It was very windy and the rain was lashing down most of the time. Esther got splashed by a huge wave even though we were standing well back, and decided to watch from the safety of her pushchair from that point onwards. Everyone else got thoroughly wet. Afterwards we went for an all-you-can-eat hot breakfast buffet to warm up!

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Flutterby butterfly

When we woke up on Sunday morning, we noticed that two of Tabitha’s chrysalides had turned into butterflies. She was so excited! By the time we got back from church, another one had emerged.

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By Monday morning there were four butterflies, leaving one final chrysalis. Tabitha spent hours watching it hopefully, but then she went to the toilet and Aaron was the only one to actually see a butterfly emerge.

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Tabitha fed her butterflies each day with fruit, flowers and sugar water.

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On Thursday, which had a better weather forecast than most days this week, we met up with some friends in the park to release the butterflies. Two of them flew straight up into the trees, but the girls were able to hold and watch the others for a while.

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Watching caterpillars grow and turn into chrysalides and then butterflies has been a really interesting experience. I highly recommend the Insect Lore kits if you have never done it before. Tabitha enjoyed it so much that we may order another jar of caterpillars to do it again in a few weeks!

A trip to the capital

Colin’s agency job finished on Monday so we took the opportunity to go up to London for a few days to visit his grandparents, whom we haven’t seen for a year and a half. We loaded up the car and set off early Tuesday morning, stopping to visit my Granny in Yeovil on the way.

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The Travelodge where we were staying had nine floors and a brilliant view. Once we had unpacked our stuff and set up Esther’s hammock, we went over to Great-Nanny and Grandad’s house for the evening.

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On Wednesday, after Nanny cooked us a fried breakfast, we took the overground and underground trains to London Zoo.

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There was a petting area where Tabitha enjoyed feeding and stroking the donkeys, alpacas, llamas and goats.

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It didn’t take long for Aaron to find water and get soaking wet!

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There were several walk-through areas where we could get up really close to monkeys, birds, spiders and other animals.

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This pelican had the letters “AAR” on his ring, which we decided must be short for Aaron.

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Tabitha loved the butterfly house and Aaron was amazed by the huge Atlas moths which were as big as his head.

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Watching the penguins swimming through the glass was great fun. They almost seemed to play with the children.

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Aaron was very excited about seeing the Komodo Dragon. He has been interested in them since we used Komodo Maths a few years ago and has watched lots of videos about them.

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Colin found the aquarium very interesting.

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One of my favourite animals we saw were the giraffes.

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On the way back we walked through Regent’s Park. According to Colin’s phone, we walked 22 km in total that day! Aaron and Tabitha did amazingly well but we were all rather exhausted by the time we got back to Nanny and Grandad’s house for a late dinner.

On Thursday we drove across London to go and visit Colin’s aunt, uncle and cousins. They took us to Brooklands museum where we saw cars, bikes, planes, buses and more. We went on Concorde which was very interesting, and Colin pointed out the engine part that his Grandad made.

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Afterwards we went back to their house for dinner, where Tabitha had a wonderful time with the two cats, five dogs and collecting eggs from the henhouse.

We spent Friday morning with Great-Nanny and Grandad again. It has been really lovely for the children to get to know them better, as they’ve only met them a few times. We set off around midday and finally got home just before 9 pm, after lots of stops and traffic queues!

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A family walk

Now that the children are older, we have started doing some longer walks (5+ miles) with them. Walking is something that we all enjoy as a family because it allows us to combine spending time together, physical exercise, an interest in nature and of course adventure! This was one of our most recent walks on a rare sunny day! We set off from Mortehoe towards Lee Bay, walking through farms and fields before eventually joining up with the coast path.

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We stopped for a picnic lunch at Bennett’s Mouth, which is between Bull Point and Lee Bay. We were in a hurry so before we left we grabbed some bits from Lidl bakery (Aaron loves the vegetable pizza slices and I like the goat’s cheese and pesto focaccia) along with cheese, peperami sticks, yogurts in squeezy packs and fruit. Not our normal picnic food but quick, easy and not terribly unhealthy.

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After lunch we followed the coast path back towards Bull Point lighthouse and Rockham Beach. There were steep paths and hundreds of steps going up and down the headlands. I’ve been working out recently and feel a lot fitter, but oh boy it was hard work! Aaron struggled but Tabitha has great stamina and steamed ahead of all of us!

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Once we arrived back at the carpark in Mortehoe, we drove around to Woolacombe to treat ourselves to icecreams and waffles! Colin and I have been eating Big Chief waffles since we were teenagers doing beach mission, although we don’t often go to Woolacombe in the summer now due to the crowds of holidaymakers.

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Photo overload!

The problem with not blogging for ages is that I end up with loads of photos to share! July has been a busy month with lots of family gatherings and outings.

We had a great morning with the home-ed group at RHS Rosemoor, doing a workshop on photosynthesis and food chains. Aaron and Tabitha already understood these concepts pretty well thanks to the Magic School Bus!

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We had a big family gathering with two of Colin’s siblings and their families and his uncle, aunt and one of his cousins. It was a miserable rainy day (like most of this month) but after a lovely meal we went for a stroll down to the beach. Colin and Aaron seem to be genetically programmed to enter any nearby water and got completely soaked. Tabitha was more cautious but got her legs wet. Good thing I was expecting it and packed spare sets of clothes!

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We met up with one of my mum’s cousins who was on holiday from Ireland. Afterwards we were browsing through the book section and Aaron found a great activity book. He read it to us on the car journey home and wanted to do some of the activities straight away, so we looked at our fingerprints and played with a non-Newtonian fluid.

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Colin was forced to take some time off work before his redundancy so that they didn’t have to pay him extra for his holidays, but it was nice to have him around more. He spent a few days working really hard at making an amazing wooden sword and scabbard for the children.

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Last week the home-ed group met at Tapeley Park for a permaculture workshop. We tasted unusual plants, made insect hotels, picked flowers to arrange into bouquets and the children ate lots of berries!

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There have been three birthdays in the extended family recently so there have been several family gatherings. Tabitha, as the most willing and responsible cousin, often gets the job of holding her baby cousin on rides. The children also had a lovely time at another cousin’s party at Atlantis Adventure Park. Afterwards we stayed on with Nanny to explore the maze and play crazy golf.

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My parents are having their house renovated so we’ve had a few days out with my mum to help her escape the chaos! One day we took a picnic lunch out to RHS Rosemoor. The children took their walkie talkies so we split up and had fun trying to find each other. Then mum sat with her knitting and I sat with my crochet while the children played. (My mum made Tabitha’s dress, isn’t it lovely?)

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We’ve also enjoyed a walk to Velator pond, planted some flower seeds at the allotment, been on a bike ride to the park and visited the beach.

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Colin is now redundant so the next few weeks are rather uncertain. He’s had a couple of job interviews already but hasn’t heard back yet, and I have an interview for a part-time job next week. We are trusting that the Lord will provide for all our needs. On the positive side, the children have really enjoyed taking it in turns to go out and spend some one-on-one time with him, and hopefully we’ll be able to fit in a few family outings too.