Awesome Kaffe Fassett exhibition at Mottisfont, St Mary’s Church in Amport before the school’s Harvest Festival service (and I’m still singing the songs in my head!!), finding the Littlest half way up the tree outside school, taking a walk with Jemima after school, our crazy pumpkin ‘tree’, slug time, another lovely dog walk in another beautiful wood.
I definately found more joy in this week. The weather must have helped, but there was certainly more laughter despite the Eldest still being in hospital.
Lots of fun in the pool including swimming before school (definately a great way to start the day!), the Boy getting his Tennis’s leader’s certificate, the Littlest showing the same determination as her siblings at sports day and representing her house in the school’s annual Poetry & Prose Competition, taking Barnaby Bear to the village shop.
I think that I was as excited as the Littlest as I parked the car and took a quick snap, pre–hike; much to the embarrassment of GD. The whole school was off on a day’s hike in the surrounding Hampshire countryside. Once registration was over we all congregated in the hall where groups are read out; I had a group of four year 6 girls, including GD. The Littlest was in the group behind me. Perfect. We all get in line in the playground and the snakelike trail of children and adults gradually winds its way out of the gates onto the road and along Furzedown Lane. The sky was leaden grey, the complete opposite to the sunny exuberance of the children. As we left the man made road the track was still pretty muddy underfoot. It was my daughter, in my group, who thought that it would be a cracking idea to use the mud to paint their faces with ‘warpaint’. It would have been, if it hadn’t been a school day; I had images of ALL the children thinking what an amazing idea and being responsible for a lot of mess. And I’d get into trouble. So, I persuaded her otherwise. I felt like a bit of a killjoy, but they seemed to forget the idea quickly. Through the undergrowth alongside the path, there were brilliant glimpses of buttercup yellow rape – the brilliance enough to believe that there was a sun somewhere above us.
The Littlest quickly decided that her group, another girl and two boys, is the ‘Super Group’! The dynamics between the youngest and oldest children is very sweet and sometimes very funny. Once past the Upper and Lower Amport Woods we came to the wide track known as the Gallops. It was once a main road leading to Weyhill: the location of the Weyhill Fair, at one time the most important sheep fair in the country, trading up to 100,000 sheep in a day; hence the name today of the Fairground at Weyhill. The children jumped, skipped and ran along here – the Littlest playing ‘spies’ in the long grass running alongside the crop field, with the boys in her group. So lovely to see so many children outside and having plain old, innocent, FUN! And not a gadget in sight! As we went past one field of wheat, there was a single swallow swooping low over the crop presumably catching insects. They are striking small, dark birds easily spotted by their long tail streamers, marking them apart from swifts and house martins. In flight their agility makes them a joy to watch and this solo performer didn’t disappoint. ‘My’ four girls did a lot of singing in between a constant chattering and giggling. Exactly what they’re supposed to do, but I’m not sure that they noticed the swallow!
The walk took us past HayDown Farm and East Cholderton and across a crop field to Sarson Lane. Midway across the field I spotted a pair of herons flying at the edge of the field. Their gentle gliding against the continuing gloomy skies was simply beautiful. But by now all the children were quite ready to stop for lunch, so a quick march along Sarson Lane brought us to the Hawk Conservancy, the location for our lunch stop and a quick run around. And then the school was off again.
This time much of the hike was along narrow footpaths with cow parsley and nettles growing high on either side. A little more challenging for the smaller of the group. The sight of a pair of llamas in a field meant that the end was in sight! Past the back of The Hawk, through the car park and across the road led us past the pretty ford and around the back of Sarson House, following a tributary of Pilhill Brook. And finally the path led to the Green opposite and the children knew they were back and ice lollies would be waiting. And mugs of tea and coffee for the rest of us – very much needed!!
Everyone who hears about the hike is always amazed, impressed and in this day and age, quite enchanted, that the whole school takes part. I know how much work it is for the school to organise – a logistical nightmare without even thinking about the health and safety aspect – but it is so unique and undoubtedly worthwhile for all the children and everyone involved.
All photos of children have had parental authorisation.
So, I’ve been persuaded to leave early and take part in ‘walking to school’ this week; not exactly walking all the way, but parking by The Hawk and walking with the Littlest and GD is good enough for me. The Littlest is scooting and we’re so ridiculously early on Monday, that GD asks if it’s a bank holiday; I didn’t say anything, but I did wonder myself. Anyway, it was truly glorious and straight out of an Enid Blyton book. A stunningly simple, but beautiful start to the week. I have my suspicions that the weather may not be quite so clement later this week, but I’m sure I can find some Enid Blyton-like anoraks.
Where the heck did the summer go? Life seems to go by so quickly, it only seems like yesterday that we were driving down to Calshot with the car piled up with sailing gear for the Tribe to take part in the first sail of the season with the 2nd Andover Sea Scouts. And now it’s finished until next year. So, how was it? Well, as we discovered the previous year, pretty amazing for all the children involved.
At the Calshot sailing club (with the most enviable of locations!), the atmosphere of parents trying to get excited Cubs and nonchalant scouts (far too ‘cool’ to get excited!) into wetsuits and ready for Paul’s briefing, is always chaotically happy. The Solent is busy throughout the year, with all manner of craft: plenty of dinghys, larger racing yachts (cue wistful looks from Father of the Tribe), ferries and vast container ships.
Because of this, in his briefing, Paul repeatedly refers to the safety aspect of sailing – hopefully say it enough times and it will be engrained in all the children’s minds for whenever they’re on the water in the future. The safety aspect of the sailing is pretty impressive – the scouts are out on the water with the younger Cubs in the boats with them and they are pretty much left to their own devices with the rescue rib constantly checking that everyone’s safe and not heading towards the shipping lane …
Having spoken to a few parents, we all agreed that the confidence that this activity has given the children is fantastic – the difference in a year is amazing and the more the children go out the better their sailing and confidence becomes. Watching the Boy handle a boat with a couple of Cubs as passengers makes me feel very proud although watching him and the Eldest together on a boat on the windiest day in he Solent made me think that maybe they shouldn’t sail together! We will see if that will happen again!
With the tide sometimes being out later in the afternoon, the children were sometimes taken far out in the rescue boat and then told to swim back to shore in the shallow water – an element of one of their badges. On the bank holiday weekend, there were so few scouts and Cubs, that those that were there, were taken in the rib to another beach for ice creams! Other afternoons when there was plenty of water, the children would play games of chase in the boats.
At the end of the day, the children help the adults bring the boats back onshore, wash them down and pack them away before showering quickly in order to get into the kitchen to make mugs of hot chocolate – obviously a highlight of the end of the day!
It is a great organisation with extraordinary facilities run tirelessly by David and a very small group of helpers. I would say that their end of season report should read ‘Excellent, 100% Commitment, A*’ (or should that now be a 9, under the new grading system??).
I haven’t posted for some time as the site appeared to have a gremlin in it and was losing everything that I attempted to post. However, Father of the Tribe has managed to fix it so hopefully I can now attempt to update everything.
September began at a pace with the new term starting very early and this term saw all four of the Tribe dressed in school uniform; the Littlest was embarking on the adventure of school life. As the youngest, she has seen her siblings dressed in their uniforms, doing homework, reading and generally being involved in school life, so much so, that she desperately wanted to know when she’ll be able to do homework! Long may that continue. Her first day began with a great sense of excitement. Father of the Tribe even going into work late and all the Tribe are dressed and ready by 7 o’clock for some family photos before the older two are taken to the station.
Just under two hours later and things don’t quite go to plan as she howled just outside the classroom and had no intention of being left by me. Any mother who’s been through this knows what it’s like; you know that your child will be absolutely fine as soon as you leave them, but every instinct that you have is screaming to wrap your baby in your arms and take her home. Obviously I don’t do this and she is perfectly happy when she skipped out a few hour later. I spent the morning drinking strong coffee and creating some calm after the busy summer. Our Littlest is growing up and life has now started a new chapter.
When I look back at the photos from that morning I can see how her face gradually changes; school is the last place on earth that she wants to be. We managed to miss that completely – great parenting.
A few weeks later all the Reception children are relaxed, confident and happy as they leave the classroom to be collected; cardigans and sweaters, book bags, a myriad of A4 ‘artwork’ and water bottles trailed behind them. Perfect!
The Boy recently took part in the Scout’s District Incident Night Hike. A couple of weeks ago I had no idea what an incident hike was; now I am better informed. An incident hike is a hike that has various activities during the hike to develop leadership, teamwork, attitude, etc. Throw in to the equation that the hike takes place at night (with a dark sky heavy with rain clouds and not even a glimpse of moonlight), then it makes it just a little more challenging. Continue reading 2nd Andover Sea Scouts win Night Hike!→
The sea scout’s last sailing weekend coincides with Bart’s Bash, the world record attempt for the Largest Sailing Race. As well as being involved in this. the sea scout’s are also doing an endurance sail to raise money for their group by sailing one of their boats for six hours. So, it was going to be a busy day.
A rather belated post, but life has been moving at quite a pace and my writing time is currently sitting at the bottom of the list of stuff to do; the end of term for the Tribe and the summer holidays is the obvious reason. We have never been to the Amport Fete before, but as two of the Tribe were still at Amport School, we obviously felt that we should go along and we had heard that it was a lovely family day. It is held annually on Amport Green and is another quintessentially English setting particularly this year with the weather forecast of thunder, lightening and downpours in between warm sunshine! As soon as we arrive, the Boy and Gerald Durrell run off to find their school friends; the Eldest soon joins them with the Littlest while I make a beeline for the bric-a-brac stand where a friend from school is helping out. Continue reading A Family Afternoon at Amport Fete→
Today saw the Boy’s first sailing adventure with the 2nd Andover Sea Scouts at Calshot Sailing Club on the South coast. The entire family came along to ‘support’ him and much to the girl’s delight (and his horror), they all managed to get a lot of time sailing; including Father of the Tribe. Continue reading Sailing with the 2nd Andover Sea Scouts→