Monday 30 September 2013

Tablet Computers and Kids

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We were very lucky last year to be given an iPad as a family. Having seen other people with them I was keen to get one but hadn't been able to buy one. Since then we have all had so much use out it.

At the time we got it my children were 8 and 5 but it didn't take them long to get the hang of using the tablet technology. Not having to grapple with a mouse and keyboard seems to make it a lot easier to pick up how to use it.

The touch screen technology makes my son's favourite games a lot easier to play as all it takes is a swipe of the finger:

The range of educational apps is also pretty vast. There is something for all ages and stages. We have had a variety of reading, writing and maths ones at various stages. Again these need minimal input from the grown ups to get going on which makes them a lot more fun. 

One of the other great things about tablets is that of course they are incredibly portable. Ours has been used to entertain children whilst the child is taking part in an activity. It has also been great on long car journeys.

We had a great stand which was attached to the iPad which meant that we could take advantage of catch up TV and online movies as well! I am really going to have to replace the one that broke as it was very useful to be able to have entertainment on the go.

My daughter loves playing with the camera and all the funky effects it can do:

The only problem with having only one iPad is that sometimes more than one of us wants to use it at once. Sometimes this causes grief so I have been looking at the options on the John Lewis iPad and tablet to get another one! There is certainly a nice variety to choose from though we are big Apple fans in this house. Now I just have to work out how to save up for one or to get Santa to pop one in my stocking this Christmas...

Saturday 28 September 2013

#CountryKids Whinlatter Forest and Castlerigg Stone Circle #WeLoveForests

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

I've been meaning to get up early enough to head up to Whinlatter for ages but life seemed to get in the way! With the forecast clear and nothing on the agenda for this weekend we managed to head up there for just after 10 this morning. Very excited that a red squirrel ran across the road in front of us on our way up the mountain!

Having been official Forest bloggers for nearly a year our days there have a routine. Once we have availed ourselves of the facilities its straight up to the Wild Play area. This time via Go Ape to book my daughter and I in for a birthday treat as she will be old enough to do it from the middle of next month. I just hope that I can keep my courage up to complete the course as I am scared of heights... 

Any way nothing to scare my kids in Wild Play and my son even made the slide go faster by sitting on his fleecy!

This trick didn't work so well on the straight slide as it went so fast he flew off the end!

It was such a lovely day to be walking through the forest:

With is being autumn there was a huge variety of fungi to see:

Of course the children were more interested in the play equipment:

My son was very brave and tried the wobbly one on his own:

Just to prove I was there my son took this shot of my daughter and I on the same thing:

My daughter then took over the camera to get revenge on her brother:

Then it was on to the kids' favourite Archimedes screws:

They can spend a huge amount of time mucking about the water:

It needs plenty of team work to get it right:

I had time to spot some early signs of autumn:

And admire my son's new walking boots (please note shorts in September!):

Other parents had obviously been observing their children's fun with a brew as they had left a mug behind:

There was certainly plenty of time for me to enjoy a few coffees whilst they were having fun:

The nearby pond is filling up with leaves falling from the trees:

Friday 27 September 2013

Friday Recipe Swap: Variations on Cupcakes

Like many people I have a tried and tested cupcake recipe:

  1. Heat oven to 190 C (fan 175 C)
  2. Pop papercases into a 12 hole cake baking tray
  3. Get a large mixing bowl
  4. Sift in 4 oz of self raising flour
  5. Add 4 oz caster sugar
  6. Add 4 oz margarine or butter
  7. Add 2 medium eggs
  8. Add pinch bicarbonate of soda
  9. Add few drops vanilla essence
  10. Mix together until mix drops off a spoon
  11. Share between the 12 cases
  12. Bake for 15 minutes in the oven
  13. Once cooled decorate if required
Sometimes I like to mix things up a bit and vary the recipe. First up chocolate chip I add 2 oz of chocolate chips to the mixture once it is blended:

The cakes are then just a little bit more interesting without too much effort:

My next variation was accidental but turned out delicious! Instead of vanilla essence I dissolved a teaspoon of coffee in boiling water and added to the cake mix:

This makes the cake mix a nice brown colour, you can adjust the amount of coffee powder to suit your taste:

It may have been an accident but it turned out great:

What I had meant to make were mocha cakes inspired by an Usborne children's cookery book! For this recipe you replace 1 oz of flour with 1 oz of cocoa and use the coffee mix instead of vanilla:

These come out a lovely dark brown and are very scrummy:

What are your favourite variations on a simple fairy cake?

Thursday 26 September 2013

Reasons to be Cheerful Week 30 The Sneezing edition #R2BC

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Having spent much of the last week with a stinking cold (thanks kids!) its harder to be cheerful but I have managed to find a few rays of sunshine:

1) Sunny Sunday in the Park

Having been house bound and mostly horizontal on Saturday it was fabulous to be out and about on Sunday. After church the lovely sunshine lured us to spend a few hours down at Abbott Hall park. Whilst the children played I soaked up the sun and enjoyed the local paper with a coffee:

Then we took the longer route home along the canal path and river bank:

2) Last of the sunflowers

It's fellow flowers are now just food for birds and homes for spiders:

3) Picnic teas in the park

There won't be many more of these but whilst they last we are making the most of them:

And yesterday's one by Windermere was wonderful too.

4) Fabulous Roses

Spotted a wonderful bush full of roses whilst walking into town yesterday. Just so beautiful:

5) Moving Up

My daughter is in year 5 so our first chance to start looking at secondary schools! Scary to think she is nearly at that secondary age but we started by looking around the school I work at on its Open Evening. We all loved the musical performances that were put on. Each department had also put out hands on stuff for students to try. Wish we had had more time to see it all (will have to wait for next year!). It was good to see our historical reenacting kit being used in the history department:

And in the PE department my daughter made the most of a mini trampolining lesson:

Tuesday 24 September 2013

#CountryKids Port-Louis, Brittany

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

After a successful drive south we headed north west on day 5 and ended up at Port-Louis as it was marked on the road map as a medieval town. It turned out to be well worth the drive:

The children were intrigued by the old town walls which rise impressively around a lot of the town:

Along a lot of their length is a walkway allowing access to the top of the wall:

There were some interesting plaques to read if your French was up to it:

We had to keep descending and ascending to get to the various parts:

There was a pretty strong wind so gramps chose to remain at ground level! I plucked up enough courage to stay up there so that each child had an adult to supervise them. It did give some great photo opportunities:

Eventually granny and I ruled that the walkway was too narrow for safety and made the children descend. We later saw someone cycling on the bit we had wimped out from! Instead we headed to the park and the children found another of those fantastic climbing pyramids:

This time my son was brave enough to get to the top:

Reunited with gramps and restored by churros we headed over to the citadel:

The citadel was first constructed in 1591 but it has plenty of later additions. The only access is through this impressive gateway:

It wasn't cheap to get in as grown ups, though children were free, but it proved well worth every Euro. The full star shape can only be appreciated from the air so I snapped a picture of an aerial photo:

Inside the former barracks have been converted into various museums. The first was a history of ship wrecks and life boats which was fascinating. Then there was an exhibition about treasures discovered from shipwrecks:

Dotted around the site were various pieces of seemingly random modern art which I never did find out any more about:

The old armoury was filled with various guns from medieval muskets and cannons to 20th century pieces:

Of course we had to take a walk around the battlements and the children were thrilled when some sailors on a French naval vessel waved back at them:

There was also time to sit on the cannons and think about what it would be like to fire them:

The final museum was about the French Indies Company as the port was once a thriving hub for trade:

It was fascinating to see how the ships were constructed and to see some of the items brought back from these voyages:

It must have felt wonderful wearing a silk dress like this:

There was more random modern art too:

And right at the end an impressive set of Samurai armour which my children found fascinating:

The citadel was closing for the day so we headed into the old town centre in search of a restaurant for dinner:

Unfortunately French restaurants cater for French timings and are generally closed from 2-7! Therefore we had to jump back in the car and start driving back towards Carnac keeping our eyes peeled for any open restaurants. Luckily one enterprising owner had realised that plenty of foreign tourists like to eat from 5 so had an open creperie: 

Of course this gave us grown ups another chance to sample locally produced cider:

Altogether a fabulous Country Kids day out and we can recommend as a trip to anyone in this part of Brittany.