Summer again

We  seem to have missed an entire winter on the blog. But summer is here again, and all our favourite bits – camping, sailing, kayaking, regattas…..and home just becomes a base in which to rinse out and dry sailing gear and pack picnics and rucksacks for the next day.

We also have 3 boys taking some gcses this month and we’re busy emptying our loft and trying to be ready for our extension which we hope will begin in July.

Ben is a year into his furniture making course, and will be away most of the summer teaching sailing at various places. Isaac should be coming to the end of his ICT Btec at college, and the others are still home based in their education.

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A few pictures below from the green woodworking workshop at this year’s home-ed camp  (based in Norfolk) and finding newts and frogs in the nearby  pond.






More summer holidays

Anna decorating biscuits for the Wivenhoe show. ( She won 1st prize, and Joel and Beth also entered cooking and craft classes and took some 1st and 2nd places)


We’ve been visiting the RSPB garden at Flatford each week – last week was dissecting owl pellets.


Pond dipping at the wildlife fair at Beth Chatto’s garden.



A day trip to the Olympic park at Stratford. The older 4 were away on Sea Cadet courses for 2 weeks this summer.

Beth made eggs benedict for our breakfast one morning. So delicious! (We also worked out that if we had taken the whole family out for the same breakfast, and a few coffees, at somewhere nice nearby we could have spent nearly £100!!!)

And there has to be a sailing picture. Beth helming the Hunter with Matt, Roo and Anna.

July snippets

Anna very pleased with a cake she made.

Football with the uncles on a visit to Granny’s.

Ben snacking on chocolate spread on a D of E expedition in the Brecon Beacons.

Joel and Beth at their fortnightly pottery session.


Ben sailing the International 14 at Brightlingsea with a friend.

Lake Coniston

Lots of photos in this post! We spent a week camping on the shore of Lake Coniston. It was a long journey up, split over 3 days, trailing our Wayfarer and 2 kayaks and picking up the older 2 half way along. (they were travelling south by train after a week spent sailing on the west coast of Scotland with the Sea Cadets). Above is Peel Island on Coniston, and the harbour which was the inspiration for the secret harbour in Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons.  The island was so pretty – very wooded with little paths winding through and honeysuckle, heather and wild bilberries everywhere. Matt and the children went often over the week (an hour’s sail in low winds) and I went with them on the last evening.

The oldest kayaking around Peel Island.

Matt and 5 children climbed Coniston Old Man early one morning. (the temperatures were in the high 20s all week so too hot to be climbing in the middle of the day.) On a clear day you can see 5 kingdoms from its summit (Ireland, Isle of Man, Wales, Scotland and, of course, England). It’s about 5 hours up and down, so quite a trek for a 6 year old…..

On the way down again.

Evenings were spent like this, cooking tea on the beach while everyone sailed, paddled and swam. We didn’t quite have the lake to ourselves, but there weren’t many other boats out.


We visited Hill Top farm, home of Beatrix Potter.

Our tent about 4 am with mist over the lake.

Sailing behind the steam gondola. This is thought to have been the inspiration for Captain Flint’s houseboat in Swallows and Amazons. And below, setting off for Peel Island.

Out and about

Mip at this weekend’s Sea Cadet regatta. JJ and Bee were there too. (and Matt in his role of mini-bus driver and cook). Clacton unit brought home the London Area Feva trophy and the London Area Annual Sailing Trophy.

Multi tasking – reading while washing up.

At this year’s history re-enactment home-educator day at Kentwell Hall.


And picnicking at Sudbury  water meadows. We had a lovely walk while we waited for Mip who was taking his first gcse physics paper. Bee also had his first maths paper this week.



A Ratty and Mole picnic

This was two weekends ago. For some reason the Wind in the Willows picnic was mentioned in the morning, and so Bear was inspired to create our own version. We went up the Roman river in the canoe, 3 kayaks and using the Mirror as a rowing boat. She had packed tablecloths in the hamper along with coldbeefcoldhamhomemadesourdoughbreadscotcheggssaladpicledonionscheeseslemonadehomemadefruitcakehomemadeapplepiewithcream….

And then afterwards there was swimming and general messing about in boats.

All lovely.

A bit more summer

Some mixed weather this week, but we’ve managed to put a few bits of sailing in.  Last Sunday was a club race and Matt and JJ went out in the Wayfarer while Bee was on safety boat duty. Then on Tuesday I organised some sailing for 3 other home-ed families on Nancy Blackett. Bee was mate for the day (he qualified over the Easter holidays) and Roo joined the afternoon sail while the rest of us pottered around Pin Mill for the day. It was lovely to introduce some other families to the Nancy Blackett Trust and it was a beautiful day  – I somehow didn’t remember to take any photos.

(above – at Castle Park after swimming lessons)

I also didn’t take any photos on Friday, when I took Roo and A to Birch Hall for a home-ed group. This week they were sailing on Secret Water (Hamford Water) and again the weather was lovely. They also saw seals while they were out.



And then today was the joint sailing club and canoe club outing down the river. The oldest 2 are away this weekend on part 2 of their marine engineering course but the rest of us went in the Wayfarer and Mirror. This was probably the longest sail the smallest has done.

These last 2 photos were taken some weeks back when we suddenly had a few hot days, and Bee and I took the girls out rowing at Dedham .

Other snippets…..A has joined the new Woodland Folk group here and is enjoying it so far. She even stayed there without me this week. She has also started swimming lessons and has lost her first tooth. Bear has passed her grade 2 ballet and Joel his grade 3 violin.





The 2 older boys are away (on a Sea Cadet marine engineering course) but the remaining 7 of us spent the afternoon paddling up the Roman river. Bear made her famous cinnamon pull-apart bread just before we left and we picnicked on it near the mill.


Been a long time – so a big update

JJ has been along to the local chess club quite a bit recently and has very much become a part of it – though he drinks lemonade instead of beer. The games are getting increasingly close, with visible relief from the adults who beat him – they all seem to think they won’t be winning for much longer.

Sea Cadet Area Sailing Regatta – three oldest went and sailed.

And our unit (and the Pearsons) came away with a few medals.

Bee has had an involvement in making a model plane for the BMFA payload challenge, so we went to the competition weekend and stayed in our new Bell Tent. On the way we visited Wimpole Hall & Home Farm

Here is the team having a breakfast briefing, with the plane Bee was involved in the background. They won their part of the competition, because the others (from China) crashed – from past experience they had made theirs very robust and repairable just in case, but they didn’t crash.

This time the Sea Cadet competition is the Junior sailing Regatta, which was on the same day as the Windsurfing Regatta.

So, we have the previous year’s winner and this year’s!

We’ve tried some swimming in the river recently, and have enjoyed being pushed about by the tide. Thanks to Mark for the body board.



Home-ed and picnics

Last week involved a lot of picnics. On Wednesday I took my older ones and a friend up to Ipswich for their monthly home-ed session run by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, and so the littlies and I went to much-loved Pin Mill for a picnic.
Thursday was our local home-ed bimble (inc picnic) in the woods.
Friday our home-ed group had tickets for about 60 of us at the Schools Classical Spectacular at the Royal Albert Hall. I went with Bee, JJ Bear and Roo – this was something new as the smallest can now be left at home with Matt for a day. Usually Matt does trips to London and I stay home to babysit. Anyway, we had a tour in the morning, picnicked on the steps by Albert’s statue, and then the concert in the afternoon (complete with laser lighting, canons, and fireworks). And to make the day even more special we had been put in our own private box for 5!


Saturday we were back on the train, this time all of us going to the Cambridge Science Festival, and again I was able to go into some of the lectures while Matt looked after the 2 smallest. Everyone enjoyed it, but perhaps especially JJ who came out of his maths lecture on fractals just glowing! It was nice to be back there. (picnic outside the Babbage lecture theatre, in the drizzle)


Today was another picnic day, only we discovered at lunchtime that we had left the picnic at home. It was the first session of the John Muir Trust award with the local home-ed group. Tree identification, bark rubbing, tree height estimation, and weaving amongst other things. Then a quick stop to shop for replacement picnic supplies and on to play board games at the library with home-ed friends.
Climbing clubs this evening at the university, chess club afterwards for JJ at a local pub, and everyone else is flopped watching HMS Pinafore.


Roo, with his fractal-inspired magnetix pattern.





PIMG_5002Photos taken on walks taken over the Christmas holiday week. Maldon, Mersea, Flatford Mill (with friends) and Brightlingsea.

I’m attempting to revive the blog – so much is going unrecorded but life is going at such a pace that it’s hard to stop and put it on the blog.

This weekend  – Matt and Ben spent Saturday at Fellowship Afloat, a Christian-run sailing and activity centre just down the coast at Tollesbury. Ben is hoping to volunteer there and this was their start-the-season weekend for volunteers. Ben and Mip had a Sea Cadet competition (drill and piping) on Sunday, but the rest of us went back to Fellowship Afloat for the morning meetings and for lunch. It was lovely meeting some of the people who work there now, and some who began it all 50 years ago, all with an interest in sailing.

They also have a climbing wall which the children enjoyed and we walked along the edge of the marshes. It’s a beautiful place, and at least one of my Grandfather’s old barges is “retired” in the mud there.

Sailing Nancy

A beautiful time had on Nancy Blackett sailing for four days with the children. This time we managed to go to sea.

A couple more photos at:



Most of Bear’s replies were ‘no’, but eventually she started to have a sensible conversation








Both our big chaps did a great job of helming. Bee seems to have a really good sense of understanding the wind.


The intrepid explorer was very stable walking about the boat and did a strong job of helming



JJ kept watching the ‘inclinometer’, which reached 15 degrees, though a couple of days later with MIP and Bear on board we got to just over 25!