Category Archives: Leisure

A walk in the woods not a day on the DS

Just outside Corby, Northants

This evening, as I was driving Boy the Elder to his Scout meeting(in a field, in the dark, in the middle of nowhere) we saw a barn owl, a muntjack, a weasel, endless rabbits and something small and very fast which flew right in front of the car.  It was wonderful, particularly the barn owl whose ghostly white wings described delicate and silent patterns in the air, like a pale and feral angel.

I was gratified to witness the excitement of the boys at seeing these creatures and pleased that, despite living in the country, wild creatures are still wonderful to them.  As a child brought up on the outskirts of London, I remember reading nature books that would cite certain insects or birds that were apparently ‘common’ throughout England.  Not in bloody Stanwell they weren’t and I remember wondering where all these creatures could be living?  Actually they were probably there for the finding, but I didn’t know where to look.

Of late, I haven’t spent enough time taking the boys on walks in the countryside. The last few years have caught up with me a bit, and on the rare occasions when I sit still I fall asleep.  They play sports at school and spend time outside, but there is no substitute for just being in the woods or the park, taking time to see the detail, making up games that involve trees, sticks and mud, listening to the trees, the birds and the tiny sounds.

Speedwell

A couple of weekends ago, I sent the two of them off into the woods and told them not to come back for at least two hours.  Their mission was to explore their surroundings, get the lie of the land, see what was beyond the Co-op and the fish and chip shop, find out where the railway line went, discover the best climbing trees and viewpoints.

They came back tired and delighted.  They had found footpaths and a tree swing, a circular walk all round the town and the track bed of an old railway line.  They were particularly pleased with a concrete lookout point on which someone had sprayed the word ‘cock’ in large red letters.  This is now known as The Cockpit and is the focal point of many games and rendezvous.

Hawthorne

Children need to connect with nature.  They need to have unstructured time in which to get bored, thus giving them the brain space to get really creative.  Separation from the natural world takes away their freedom, their peace of mind and their independence.  Some parents are terrified to let their children go to parks or open spaces unsupervised because they have become obsessed with the idea that there are perverts and kidnappers round every corner.  Those same children may not have been taught to cross the road properly and yet the fear of them being run over takes second place to the threat of paedophiles.

Children’s time has become too structured, outdoors has become a facility not a place to be enjoyed on its own merit.  Children are taught about nature in schools through eco-disaster, floods, famines, global warming and whilst these things need to be taught, I wonder if this encourages them to really connect with nature or whether it persuades them that nature is an enemy to be overcome?  How many people became passionate naturalists without actually experiencing nature at first hand?

Where have the nature tables gone, with their birds’ nests, conkers, multi-hued leaves and shells?  When do the nature walks happen when children can feel the ground beneath their feet, smell the leaf mould, discover wild flowers and learn the difference between moths and butterflies?

We don’t have to live in the middle of nowhere to find these things, any tiny wild area will have something of interest and we need to find them, enjoy them and then pass on our enjoyment.  Note the difference in someone after a day in the fresh air to a day in front of the TV or a computer screen.

Let’s reclaim our natural spaces and in return find some space for ourselves.

How deep?

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Filed under Children, Health and Fitness, Leisure, Outdoor Activities, Slider

Airfix versus Warhammer

Assault on Black Reach - apparently

In the morning I am taking Boy the Elder into Leicester to spend his birthday money.  The only thing which was on his list was a Warhammer series 40,000 Assault on Black Reach gaming set. If you understand what that means you are either likely to be a 13-25 year old male or a nauseating parent who is really sucking up to her children.  You know who you are, Sister the First.

BTE has been an avid Airfix fan for ages and has got some beautiful models of WW2 planes, tanks and ickle tiny soldiers.  He’d started to get really good at the building and painting and I understood it; it was real things painted to look like real things that did stuff that actually happened.  The Aged Parent bought him membership of The Airfix Club for his birthday and he gets enamel badges and everything.

Supermarine Spitfire - obviously

Then suddenly Warhammer came on the scene and there are dozens of little grey plastic mutant figures littering the house and desperate, plaintive pleas for Ork Stompas echo around the rooms, and I just don’t ‘get it’. But then I’m not really supposed to, am I?

Thus, tomorrow morning, we are venturing into Leicester to find a shop called ‘Tabletop Tyrants’ where, being a Saturday morning, it will be awash with hundreds of teenage boys, who are strangers to soap and don’t have a girlfriend or a clean pair of underpants between them.  BTE will hand over his shining debit card (the glancing light blinding the shuffling youths) in exchange for box loads of plastic mutants with machetes and assorted weaponry plus the associated paints, brushes and glue.

I begged him to shower tonight or wash his hair, as a gesture that he has a shred of individuality, but to no avail.  He did paint his nails purple though, which I suppose is a start.  I will hide his trainers and leave his Chelsea boots where he will trip over them but I fear that the use of a toothbrush will be a step too far.

Lancaster Bomber

Ork Stompa

Airfix seems wholesome, Wargaming does not.  Still, at least he’s balanced – an Ork Stomper on one shelf and a De Havilland Mosquito on the other.  Boy the Younger will, of course, insist on combining the two and will strafe and dive bomb the mutants with neatly painted Spitfires and Lancaster Bombers.  Boy the Elder will flip his lid and a horrible fight will break out on the dining room table between a lanky evil-smelling geek and a  malevolent, grudge-bearing 8-year old.

Now THAT I get.

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Filed under Children, Collecting, Indoor Activities

I must spend more time with my children

I don’t spend enough time with my children, despite the fact that I mostly work from home.  I am always busy and when I’m not busy,  I’m so knackered that I’m no good to anyone.  I know that a lot of this has to do with the recent house move (added to the previous three)  and a very, very stressful few years, but a) this is not going to get any better and b) that will be no comfort to me when they’re suddenly eighteen and have left home or simply don’t want to hang around with me anymore.

Boy the Elder spent most of this weekend with a friend (at the Cosby Air Show) and after we had dropped him off, Boy the Younger and I decided to go for a walk at Foxton Locks.  On a whim, we popped in and took one of his friends along as well.  We had a lovely time but as we drove back BTY asked if this friend could come back for a sleepover.

Now, I am ashamed to admit that I absolutely hate having my children’s friends over for sleepovers.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with their friends, but particularly with the younger ones, I resent the extra responsibility of another child.  Isn’t that awful?  And particularly at the moment, when there is still so much work to be done in the house before it will be as I want it, the additional pressure leaves me feeling absolutely drained.

The boy sleeping over was fine but I couldn’t wait for him to be collected, mostly because I could feel a massive headache coming on of the kind that requires a day in bed with hot water bottles on the back of my neck.

I’m also not very good at being spontaneous.  I used to be spontaneous years ago, renowned for it in fact, but not anymore.  Spontaneity suggests large chunks of free time that have been unaccounted for and I rarely have those.  When they boys are at their dad’s, I usually spend my time catching up on jobs or asleep.  By Sunday evening, I’m starting to relax a bit but then Monday comes again all too soon.

A basic 8884 Sponge Cake mix with a lot of food colouring *

But after the friend had gone and BTY and I were on our own, I felt far too guilty to go to bed and leave him downstairs alone, so I suggested that we bake a cake together.  This was extremely well received and although he got a bit silly and messy, he eventually produced a multi-coloured cake decorated with bright yellow buttercream and Smarties.  He declared that it was a Happy Cake and couldn’t wait for Boy the Elder to come home and have a slice.  My heart melted a usual.

While we were waiting for the cake to cool, I suggested that we get a jigsaw and we returned to an old favourite depicting three Spitfires against a stormy sky.  We got the straight edges out and did the outline first and then he got to work on the Spitfires.  He was so thrilled when he managed to get pieces in the right places and we really enjoyed doing the puzzle together.

When Boy the Elder came home, the dynamic changed, but it brought it home to me very strongly that I have to make more time for them.  When BTE was little, he didn’t have an older brother muscling in on his time, telling him what to do or generally being a git.  I also had the time to do creative things with him on a regular basis.  BTY has always had to share his time and I have not been in the position to do lots of creative stuff with him.  He needs to spend quiet periods with me, just being together and having a bit of fun.

Must try harder.  Otherwise I’ll live to regret it.

* Click here for basic sponge cake mix

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Filed under Children, Family and Friends, Indoor Activities, Leisure

Vintage Air Shows and Festivals for this weekend and September

September  seems to be the month for Vintage festivals.  Here are a few which sound fun.

The Duxford Air Show, Cambridgeshire
3& 4th September – 8am – 6pm

The Duxford Air Show is the highlight of the Museum’s flying events each year and features both historic and contemporary aircraft, civilian and military.  At the heart of this year’s air show, and 75 years since its inaugural flight, we celebrate the sight and sound of the Spitfire, that most celebrated British single-seat fighter aircraft.

The Victory Show at Cosby, Leicestershire
3-4th  September from 9am

The two day event is held over a 60 acre site, providing historical societies & re-enactments through various forces from several era’s and theatres during the period of 1939-45. From Airmen to Infantry, the Victory Show 2011 opens a window in time to the fabulous 1940’s.

Shackerstone Festival

Shakerstone Family Festival, Leicestershire
3-4thSeptember

Battle of Britain planes, wingwalkers, aerostars, jousts and stunts, duck herding & sheep racing, dog displays, marching bands, steam trains, canal exhibitions, birds of prey, tractors, cars, steam engines, ploughing demos, craft fayre and so it goes on…

Dorset Steam Fair

The Great Dorset Steam Fair, nr Blandford Forum, Dorset
3rd & 4th  September from 8am

You can stand amazed at the variety of exhibitions and the sheer scale of the show means that there is always something new to see. The show has something for everyone, whatever your interests – collector, a steam fanatic, an exhibitor, a heavy horse fan, an avid camper, a music fan or just on holiday in the South of England.  The Great Dorset Steam Fair is a typically British event offering a unique blend of nostalgia and entertainment. Come and soak up the special festival atmosphere whether as a day visitor or taking in the full five days by camping on site. There is no other event like it anywhere in the world.

Capel Manor Classic & Vintage vehicles

Capel Manor Gardens, Enfield, Middlesex 
4th  September 10-5pm

Motor along to the Classic and Vintage Vehicle Show with cars from as far back as the 1920s, the Annual Rally of the North London and Middlesex Morris Minors Association, auto jumble, the Enfield Brass Band and crafts in the Manor House with Fig Fairs

Maldon & District Vintage Working Day at  Southminster and

Ploughing Past and Present Country Show at Pebmarsh:
East Anglia

4th September

Goodwood Revival

The Goodwood Revival

16th – 18th September from 0730-1900hrs

In the summer of 2010, a brand new concept in British festivals was launched at Goodwood to huge critical acclaim.  Known as ‘Vintage at Goodwood,’ this award-winning new event enabled fans of British Cool and Popular Culture to fully indulge their love and passion for the golden era of British style and influence.  

Vintage at Goodwood brought together a unique blend of 1940s, 50s and 60s fashion, music, film, art, dance and design in a fun, authentic and imaginative way. Similarly, the annual Goodwood Revival, the world’s biggest historic motor racing event, has been successfully doing this for over a decade, with the added excitement of thrilling wheel to wheel motor racing as a unique and extraordinary backdrop to an utterly British experience. The Goodwood Revival brings together the most glamorous and exotic cars, and their star drivers all racing on the original classic race track, it is the only major sporting event to be completely staged in an authentic period setting, creating a truly magical step back in time.


The Foxton Locks Festival

17th & 18th September 10am-5pm

Foxton Locks Festival is Leicestershire’s Premier Day Out with something for all the family.

Come and browse the craft stalls and grab yourself a bargain, watch the interactive Viking re-enactments taking place during the day and grab a bite to eat and drink at our Food Village and Real Ale Bar.

Take time out to visit the Locks and see the brightly coloured boats negotiate their way up the staircase locks, pop into the museum and learn about the history of the canals and don’t forget a visit to the remains of the Inclined Plane Boat Lift.


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Filed under Family and Friends, History, Leisure, Outdoor Activities

Wills’ Cigarette Cards No 8: Cycle Brackets

Now I know there are a few of you out there who would find much use for a sturdy pair of brackets like these for your velocipedes, to say nothing of frollicking with a bracing strut …

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Filed under Household Hints, Leisure, Outdoor Activities, Wills Cigarette Cards

A day out at Canons Ashby and a Wartime Housewife Quiz

Canons AshbyToday, and on a whim as we have spent too much of the summer holiday relocating, we fired up the Escort and visited the National Trust property of Canons Ashby in Northamptonshire.

Canons Ashby was owned by the Dryden family for four centuries from the late 1500s; bookish, conservative, modest people who respected the buildings enough to re-model and extend but never to completely sweep away the past.  The house itself is rather more than a manor house but not quite a grand mansion and much of its beauty lies in its homeliness and attention to the decorative.

Sir John Dryden (1631-1700), the very first Poet Laureate, is a member of this family and was appointed by Charles II in 1668.  He was the best poet, dramatist, translator and critic of the age and his translation of Virgil is one of the great masterpieces of translation in English.

The house is full of interesting and beautiful things, including some fascinating items which I have never seen before or didn’t know about.  Let’s see if you can identify them.  There will be a modest prize for the person(s) who can identify all five correctly.  If you click on the pictures, you will get a larger and more detailed image.  Good luck!

This competition closes on Friday 2nd September 2011 and the winners will be announced on Saturday.
The Wartime Housewife’s decision is final.

1.  WHAT IS THIS AND WHAT WAS IT USED FOR?

2.  WHAT IS THIS?

3. WHAT IS THIS AND WHAT WAS IT USED FOR?

NB: This soldier is 5 feet high

4. WHAT IS THIS?

5. WHAT IS THIS DECORATIVE CEILING MADE FROM?

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Filed under History, Indoor Activities, Leisure, Outdoor Activities, Poetry, Literature, Music and Art

Golly Territory

Good morning everyone, I trust you slept well and that you have less of a headache than I do.  Off to the market for some monosaturated medicament, I feel.

Now, seeing as we’ve strayed into Golly Territory, and I’m too busy packing boxes and taking down shelves to write anything of any depth, have a look at these previous posts:-

My name is the Wartime Housewife and I love Golliwogs

By Golly, I need to buy another Golly

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Filed under Collecting, Life in general