Isn’t it funny how if you lack something,  you think you must have it _right now_ or all will be lost?  I managed - despite putting it on my packing check list! - not to bring my camera charger.  I took lots of photos of YoungMan so naturally the battery faded,  and when I got back to the flat where we’re staying,  no charger.

Grrrrrrr!

Foggy said that the camera shop in Exeter was kind enough to put his camera battery on their charger last year (the precedent had been set!) so I rang to see what could be done.  £25 for a universal charger,  they told me,  but bring your battery in to check it works before you buy it.

One quick jaunt into Exeter later,  I had a functioning charger…  so of course I didn’t take any photos for the next 24 hours.  Maybe I didn’t need it after all?  To be fair,  although I will have access to the “proper” (original) charger the second I get home - I can tell you exactly where it is,  much good as it is to me now! - the new charger has a couple of useful tricks:  it has a USB port,  and a car charger,  in addition to a fully adjustable widget for camera batteries and the like,  so it really will charge almost any rechargeable battery out there.

I got the camera out again yesterday as we went on a boat trip to Sidmouth,  along the Jurassic Coast.  The skipper gave us a commentary as we trundled along (we drove past Sidmouth in less than half an hour.  It took 90 minutes by boat!!) and I learned all sorts of interesting things about the history and geology of it…  but was grateful YoungMan was back in Exmouth,  being treated to a day out with Lightning,  as he would have found the pace of it all as hopelessly dull as the kids running around the boat,  bored out of their skulls and wreaking havoc while the parents ignored their shenanigans.

In any case,  when we were coming into Sidmouth,  we were told that the boat would be landing on the beach and not to be distressed as it was deliberate…  This is the first time I had been on a boat of this size which did this (I’d been expecting a jetty of some sort!) so it was quite entertaining watching the people on the beach scatter hither and yon as the boat bore down on them.  

Upon our return,  Foggy took pity on YoungMan and moved the Xbox from the room where Thunder+Lightning are staying into our room.  He was delighted to finally be allowed some time on electronic media (we made him do some “homework” first of English and maths) and was having a great time playing football.

When we put him to bed,  it didn’t occur to either of us that YoungMan might be so tempted that he’d continue playing…  We stayed out in the sitting room and chatted with assorted other family members and despite YoungMan coming out of the room to go to the loo at about 10pm,  I wasn’t alerted to the fact that he was getting into mischief until I walked into the room at half past midnight and discovered a wide awake boy with controls firmly in his hands and eyes on the screen.

Gah!  YoungMan’s argument was that we had not specifically forbidden him from playing after he went to bed (he’s allowed to read in bed,  so why not Xbox?) but he clearly knew it was wrong “Mummy,  you can smack my bottom if you want”…! so all things considered,  I am not unhappy we head for home tomorrow.

In case you are wondering,  dear reader,  an Xbox might be on YoungMan’s Christmas list - again! - this year,  but it most certainly is not on either mine or Foggy’s.  I am not having it,  I tell you!

More beach time…  This time (as you can tell from the photographs!) I went in for a swim with YoungMan.  To say that it was bracing is to understate it by quite some measure.  Nobody else was hard - or mad! - enough to go in at the same time as me and YoungMan,  but it was just about ok a temperature once I’d got my shoulders underwater.  It’s not so bad for YoungMan,  he has a wetsuit…!  Foggy wasn’t that silly,  he sat on the picnic blanket on the beach,  looking after our stuff (including the camera once I had some photos I liked).

Once we’d given up on the prospect of the water getting any warmerr/ more pleasant/ bigger waves for the boogie board,  it was time for another round of beach cricket.  The Headhunter will be relieved to know we’re not ruining YoungMan’s “proper” cricket bat,  but using a set bought especially for battering on the beach…  Poor WeatherForDucks took it all a bit too seriously and now sports a pulled muscle for her efforts but is soldiering on bravely.  Lightning also bears the scars of playing with YoungMan - he was so determined to beat her up the stairs that he sent her flying,  and she has some impressive bruises on her forearm.  I am staying well clear!!!

Today’s planned entertainment includes lots more trains:  a trip on the “Land train” hop on hop off bus routes (my mother will be shocked to learn a ticket for the whole circuit including three separate routes is a fiver.  Would that our London hop on hop off experience had cost so little!!!),  Foggy and his parents are headed for a steam train ride and then we’re going to drive down and collect Foggy at the other end,  as there is a restaurant nearby we’ve been keen to visit for a while.  I had better go and charge the battery on my camera,  so that I can show you all the highlights later!

A quick catch up selection of photos for you today…

We like the playground that has story characters…  YoungMan has really enjoyed listening to The Wind In The Willows,  which we have on audiobooks for entertaining us on long car journeys,  so he was delighted to discover the boat with Ratty and Mole.

The group at the restaurant?  Dinner with Mum and her friend,  KiwiCuz and the Headhunter,  on Tuesday of last week.  Yummy Thai food,  a great suggestion from KiwiCuz :-)

The rest of the photos are from the time we spent down at the beach on Saturday.  The poor plastic cricket bat had perished and didn’t survive the day,  but we found another set (bat,  stumps and bail plus ball) for £6…  and we’re hoping the wood will be a little stronger than the plastic was!

Last but not least,  he got in some boogie boarding with Lightning.  I hadn’t taken my swimsuit down to the beach - it was a bit cool so I wimped out - but Lightning is made of sterner stuff.  YoungMan made himself a teensy bit unpopular with her by announcing that she didn’t get cold as rapidly as he did,  because she had more blubber.  Charming child will go far with lines like that - mostly because he’d be slapped into next week by another other adult to whom he made a similar suggestion!

Holidays… Gotta love ‘em!

The weather forecast was a bit dodgy this morning so Foggy and I decided to head to Pecorama, in Beer (yes, the town really is called Beer) as lots of the activities are indoors. As it happened (you can see in the pictures!) it had stopped raining by the time we arrived and it’s been glorious since.

Foggy had brought YoungMan on his own last year as I was busy writing assigments, and I didn’t want to miss all the fun this year! WeatherForDucks came along too, tempted by the promise of pretty gardens.

As you can tell, the is a railway theme, so YoungMan got to drive the trains in one layout and the photo of both of us, we’re having a ride on a small steam engine. We lucked into the “special” ride of double the usual duration, so that was all good.

There was also mini golf (Foggy was definitely the winner, not that YoungMan will ever admit it), an indoor play area and a teddy bear trail to follow where tokens could be collected to be exchanged for a prize.

You will not be surprised to learn that, despite arriving more than four hours ago, YoungMan is going to have to be dragged away kicking and screaming… All of which confirms we made the right decision this morning :-)

The finished product, as promised… Having baked the cupcakes in Union Flag cases, YoungMan decided the best decoration would be to use that as a theme.

I hand cut the stencils (I’m rather pleased with them, actually) and handed over items in the baking cupboard already: red sugar sprinkles and edible blue glitter. YoungMan sprinkled carefully and prodded loose bits into the right places, then we took six finished cupcakes down to the judging marquee. Luckily they all arrived safely so YoungMan had a choice of which four to present for judging.

We were booted out of the marquee at 1045 and not allowed back in until 1:30. In the meantime, Foggy entertained YoungMan while I sold raffle tickets… All of us were back in the marquee by 1:31pm and delighted to see YoungMan had third prize for his cupcakes, and his miniature garden was also commended.

We have plans this weekend… Foggy’s parents’ village Flower Show takes place, complete with multiple divisions for judging artwork, gardening and baking for all ages. As we thought I was working (turns out not to be necessary), I suggested that Foggy take YoungMan.

YoungMan had a look through the categories for judging and decided he fancied a go at the cupcakes (I’m glad he didn’t choose chocolate crackles, I don’t like them!) and Foggy persuaded him to attempt a couple of other categories - a picture of a beach, and a three dimensional “mini garden”, both of which are well underway.

So, it would have been really easy to make the cupcakes for him and just let him go wild with the icing/ sprinkles, but YoungMan is perfectly capable of cooking - and, better yet, enjoys it - so above is the evidence he really did make the cupcakes himself.

I’m not claiming he had _no_ assistance, I was in the kitchen with him, explaining and instructing as necessary… but he genuinely did 99% of it himself.

What lacks, I know, is a photo of the finished product. This, gentle reader, is because they need to cool before decorating and YoungMan will have no time to bake during the day tomorrow as he has a playdate due to last _all day_! As soon as he is collected, we are heading to Foggy’s parents’ place (I am hoping to finish work at sensible o’clock so traffic isn’t too dire) and by the time we’ve had supper there won’t be a lot of time left to bake then either.

That leaves us to pop the cakes in an airtight container when they’ve cooled tonight and Saturday morning, we have until 10:30am to take everything to be scrutinised. So, YoungMan and I will be up at the crack of 8am (I don’t do the crack of dawn, especially not on weekends!) to make them amazing… Watch this space :-)

Tags: baking

The nice thing about YoungMan is that although he is rapidly becoming more sophisticated in language and attitude (not all of this pleases me), he still doesn’t consider play dough beneath his dignity.
It is - as ever - good for his fine motor skills to work with dough and tools, so when he asked if he could join WorkChildTheElder in playing with dough, I was hardly going to turn him down!

The nice thing about YoungMan is that although he is rapidly becoming more sophisticated in language and attitude (not all of this pleases me), he still doesn’t consider play dough beneath his dignity.

It is - as ever - good for his fine motor skills to work with dough and tools, so when he asked if he could join WorkChildTheElder in playing with dough, I was hardly going to turn him down!

Tags: play dough

I had meant to post these pictures yesterday,  but it was decided fairly last minute that we were off into town for a Kiwi festival with hangi…  I threw together a lolly cake as my contribution (and firmed it up on freezer packs in a cool bag on the drive in) and it was very well received.

Anyhow,  the photos are fairly self explanatory.  We had discovered an adventure playground (the background of the photo of a bouncing YoungMan only shows a fraction of it!) with a boating pond nearby…  I had been mean Mummy and refused to take my work kids in a boat with YoungMan when we found it (the 4 year old isn’t always good at listening so I had visions of him winding up overboard) but that we could keep it for a family trip instead.

Poor Foggy was nagged half to death that we do this exciting thing as soon as possible,  and luckily the weather last Saturday was just right,  and we’d nothing else on.  Although I quite like boats,  I decided to stay on dry land so I could take some photos.  I hadn’t really considered whether YoungMan was big enough to have a go at rowing,  but the conditions were ideal and he wasn’t bad at all for his first attempt!

Tags: rowing

Whoops,  I haven’t posted in two weeks.  Sorry!  I have masses of photos to share but just have been crazy busy and not really inclined to stop to sit at the computer.

However,  water under the bridge now.  You have pictures…  The Headhunter gave YoungMan a cricket bat for Christmas,  knowing that his birthday would be too late for the cricket season.  Boys aren’t generally allowed their own bat at school for lessons,  but they may bring them on match day,  so YoungMan was determined to take advantage.

I was working but managed to scoot into school briefly to take the photos of the boys batting,  then popped out to pick up WorkChildTheElder,  and came back in time for YoungMan’s favourite bit,  the match tea.  Can’t see the appeal of chocolate biscuits and ham sandwiches,  myself! ;-)

Last week I wound up not too far from Reading in the course of doing important but dull business. YoungMan was with me and together, we decided we would reward ourselves for getting dull stuff out of the way, by going to Ed’s Easy Diner for lunch.

Fortified by hot dogs and malted milkshakes, YoungMan had a choice: Jurassic Park-themed mini golf or swimming in the school pool. Smart kid made the right choice - just as we completed the course (I finished with a very unexpected hole in one!), we got a phone call from Foggy, who said a friend of YoungMan’s had just turned up with his lovely mum, were we coming to join them?

Cue a prompt carpark exit, drive to school via dashing home for togs, and YoungMan’s bewildered “I thought you said I had to choose?” giving way to delighted splashing about. All told, a good holiday day out!

Registration complete

Finally!!!

:-)

Now I can open for business… I have my first clients already - the boys I have been nannying - and a neighbour of theirs wants me to look after their three year old girl for a week in the school holidays… Small beginning, but better than no clients at all!

Yesterday was the annual Kohanga fundraising Hangi at Hinemihi,  at Clandon House.  I offered to assuage my not-as-frequent-as-I-would-like Kohanga appearances by coordinating the cake stall.

I sent out emails imploring people to provide baked goods,  packaged ready to sell,  and labelled for allergens,  with suggested prices.  I got one response. 

A further plea (expressing concern at the lack of offers!) got a much better response and promises of all sorts of “Kiwi” items:  Anzac biscuits,  Afghans,  kumara bread,  coconut ice,  and I offered lolly cake,  safe in the knowledge AncientUncle had brought me supplies of “proper” malt biscuits and fruit puffs when he was here last month.

Well,  could I find them on Friday,  when I went looking?  Nope,  nowhere to be found!  Despite turning the house upside down in an effort to find where they were stashed,  they remained elusive.

A phone call to my mother (asking what quantities she’d sent so I could work out how big a bag was missing) and several Facebook messages with AncientUncle later,  I finally found them on Saturday morning,  lurking under a bag of unused electrical goods in the bottom-most corner of the pantry.

I decided not to do all four packets of biscuits,  worried that it might not sell. I clearly lack ambition,  they sold extremely well and not a single person argued paying £1 for two slices (I had pre-packaged them in cling film),  and there were disappointed customers who’d seen the price lists and got all excited,  only to find we’d sold out.  Job well done :-)

The cake stall did very well - we sold everything we’d been given and I think we raised about £275,  so I am well pleased with that.  It’s not as much as previous years but donations of baked goods were down a bit as some of the promised baking hadn’t eventuated and I could only sell what was given!!  My share (cupcakes too) cost about £15 to produce but raised £35,  so I am giving myself a small pat on the back.

Yesterday was the annual Kohanga fundraising Hangi at Hinemihi, at Clandon House. I offered to assuage my not-as-frequent-as-I-would-like Kohanga appearances by coordinating the cake stall.

I sent out emails imploring people to provide baked goods, packaged ready to sell, and labelled for allergens, with suggested prices. I got one response.

A further plea (expressing concern at the lack of offers!) got a much better response and promises of all sorts of “Kiwi” items: Anzac biscuits, Afghans, kumara bread, coconut ice, and I offered lolly cake, safe in the knowledge AncientUncle had brought me supplies of “proper” malt biscuits and fruit puffs when he was here last month.

Well, could I find them on Friday, when I went looking? Nope, nowhere to be found! Despite turning the house upside down in an effort to find where they were stashed, they remained elusive.

A phone call to my mother (asking what quantities she’d sent so I could work out how big a bag was missing) and several Facebook messages with AncientUncle later, I finally found them on Saturday morning, lurking under a bag of unused electrical goods in the bottom-most corner of the pantry.

I decided not to do all four packets of biscuits, worried that it might not sell. I clearly lack ambition, they sold extremely well and not a single person argued paying £1 for two slices (I had pre-packaged them in cling film), and there were disappointed customers who’d seen the price lists and got all excited, only to find we’d sold out. Job well done :-)

The cake stall did very well - we sold everything we’d been given and I think we raised about £275, so I am well pleased with that. It’s not as much as previous years but donations of baked goods were down a bit as some of the promised baking hadn’t eventuated and I could only sell what was given!! My share (cupcakes too) cost about £15 to produce but raised £35, so I am giving myself a small pat on the back.

We had one of those lovely laid back days today where we did lots of good stuff without really trying.

This morning, we went to the Lido and the lifeguards struck just the right balance between too relaxed to be appropriately safety-conscious, and officious killjoys.

On the way back to the car, we discovered this charming waterfall. Lots of kids were splashing in the shallow water at the bottom and YoungMan was most put out to be dragged home for lunch instead of joining in the fun.

After lunch, YoungMan and I left Foggy (and his dodgy knee) at home preparing supper and with the laundry ready to be hung out to dry in the glorious sunshine.

BakedGoods and her kids met us at a nearby National Trust property and the kids had a ball, nothing major and serious - a slide here, some football there, drinks and ice cream for afternoon tea, a tree to be climbed… Just simple things everyone enjoyed.

I am heartened that YoungMan doesn’t yet equate money spent with how good a time he had… and hope he never does. Of course some of the things for which I have fond memories didn’t come cheap (my 30th birthday party, my sister’s wedding, Christmas with the family 18 months ago) but the common factor in all of them was that it was about spending time with people we like. I am pretty sure Little Mr Sociable _gets_ that, bless him.

Inspection

Well, it’s been a couple of days since my Ofsted inspection and I’m still in recovery.

It wasn’t awful, but it was intense and it took 4.5 hours to cover everything - my suitability to work as a childminder (DBS certificates, my health, previous experience etc), the Early Years Foundation Stage, the Two Year Progress Check, Development Matters, Safeguarding and Welfare, and last but not least, premises check.

The inspector herself was very pleasant and gave me plenty of opportunities to clarify and expand on my original answers if I’d given a broad outline as an initial response to a question.

The main reason it takes so long is that she was typing frantically as I spoke, so she had a transcript of our conversation, in order to back up her decisions as to whether or not I meet the requirements to register.

Thankfully she was kind enough to say before she left that she considers that I _do_ fulfil all of the requirements, and as such, she would recommend to Ofsted that they register me as a childminder.

It is possible they will want to confirm a detail or two before doing so (she said her notes were deliberately as comprehensive as possible to attempt to avoid that happening) but if they concur with her inspection, they will probably just issue me with a certificate of registration, which should arrive by post within a couple of weeks.

I am holding back on any big celebrations until it’s definite, but folks, it’s looking pretty darned good :-)

Party yesterday.  Birthday tomorrow.  Eight years has gone by awfully quickly for me,  and at a snail’s pace as far as he’s concerned!

Everyone has been extraordinarily generous - YoungMan has £100 in assorted tokens,  vouchers and cold hard cash to spend,  several new boxes of Lego, assorted remote controlled cars,  a subscription to a fabulous kids’ magazine (educational enough to please me,  fun enough to please him!),  a pop up two man tent (he wanted to camp in the garden tonight!),  a butterfly garden,  football cards and a World Cup football…  and I’m quite sure that’s not all,  but the rest escapes me for now. 

We are looking forward to a FaceTime call with Moose and Bear tomorrow morning,  before YoungMan heads to school for Day One of exam week:  science and maths. Just what you want on your birthday,  right?

Party yesterday. Birthday tomorrow. Eight years has gone by awfully quickly for me, and at a snail’s pace as far as he’s concerned!

Everyone has been extraordinarily generous - YoungMan has £100 in assorted tokens, vouchers and cold hard cash to spend, several new boxes of Lego, assorted remote controlled cars, a subscription to a fabulous kids’ magazine (educational enough to please me, fun enough to please him!), a pop up two man tent (he wanted to camp in the garden tonight!), a butterfly garden, football cards and a World Cup football… and I’m quite sure that’s not all, but the rest escapes me for now.

We are looking forward to a FaceTime call with Moose and Bear tomorrow morning, before YoungMan heads to school for Day One of exam week: science and maths. Just what you want on your birthday, right?