I love writing lists. We ticked a few things off W’s ‘Starting School Bucket List’ back in 2017! After 3 years of home education, international nursery settings and flexischooling the boys will be attending a bilingual (Arabic/French) school from September! Coupled with nearly four months stuck inside as part of Morocco’s coronavirus lockdown measures. I thought a Summer 2020 bucket list would be a great way to give them back some control over their lives.
We don’t know what will happen regarding second wave, borders etc. So will only be doing the activities that can be carried out under social distancing guidelines. I firmly believe in giving my children their own voice, everything listed below is entirely their own original ideas.
A Schultüte is a wonderful German tradition for the first day of school. My grandmother is German and so it’s a tradition that we are passing down and I intend to keep within our family. I remember receiving mine when I first started, so of course I had to make one for W (4) on his first day!
For those of you that don’t know, a Schultüte is essentially a cone packed with goodies, to celebrate the year ahead. Some parents are more creative and able to make fantastic cones but I just stuck with card, wrapping paper, tissue paper and ribbons for W’s.
You can put anything inside of these, I tried to think of things that I thought W would need as well as enjoy. I got him a couple of new books to read and Star Wars themed workbooks to support his learning (I can’t help but giggle over P is for Padme, or the saying on the back ‘Learn well. You will.’). The notebook, pencils and skipping rope are from Cath Kidston and I found a CD of alphabet songs to add to the boys collection. W loves taking photos on my phone so I popped in a disposable camera for him to have a go at taking his own (the old fashioned way), also picked up a boys fragrance bottle from Next because he always wants to borrow my perfume! The Lego set and the Go Fish! game are just for fun and great activywe can do together. Not pictured are some triangular colouring pencils as they are easier for him to hold that I also picked up for him.
How to make it?
I cut out a square of wrapping paper, stuck it onto some thing card, put glue along one side of the square and made a cone shape, sticking it down together. I glued tissue paper along the inside at the top, stuffed a ball of tissue into the base (a little like a cornetto) and then filled it up with presents, before tying the top with some ribbon.
He had already been given a new school bag and a Swatch watch at breakfast, so the look on his face to be surprised again when I picked him up was totally worth it! I couldn’t be more proud of him and so excited to see what the year ahead has in store.
So, this was an item I had added to the bucket list and then immediately regretted! I didn’t know how on earth I was going to manage two under 5s by myself for a whole weekend of camping. I didn’t even have any camping gear, so it was a quick stop at Decathlon for the basics (honestly, BASICs). I got a 3 person pop-up tent, an inflatable mattress, 3 sleeping bags, a lamp to hang inside the tent, some (not) glow in the dark tent pegs and a couple of blankets.
The day arrived and I was really having some doubts about the feasibility of it all, I wasn’t bringing any food and just hoping there would be enough food options to cater to our tastes, I barely packed enough clothes and was wondering if it would be too late to change my mind, but we got there and in no time at all set up camp. Everybody was so friendly and helpful, the boys enjoyed taking turns to hammer the pegs into the ground and put out their sleeping bags before we explored what the festival had to offer.
There was a programme of workshops and various activities, I didn’t get the chance to do any of them as busy shepherding the boys, but they enjoyed a few fairground type rides that were free for the first day (swings and trampolines), there was a circus tent with dressing up, face painters (the face paint looked awesome with their coloured hair) and an arts and crafts tent where they made some wings. Plenty of music to enjoy throughout the day and communal fires to sit around. Most of the food was vegan, which again wasn’t an issue for us but the boys do snack a lot and it ended up being quite expensive by the end of the day feeding their grazing habits.
The main attraction for me was that it was a drink and drug free event, which meant there was something quite pleasant and relaxing about drinking chai, listening to Nick Mulvey and dancing/singing along with a sleeping B in the sling. There was no real need to feel cautious about walking back to our tent in the dark which made for a very safe and enjoyable environment for me and the children. Children were very much welcome to be children and W made hordes of friends that ran around in little feral packs, whooping and hollering with items of clothing missing and face paint streaked faces.
A typical day for us involved waking up rather early, mad dash to the toilets before getting ready for the day (minus shower as these were out of order!). We filled up our water bottles and then walked through the ‘village’ through to the main site for a bowl of porridge in the Into the Wild cafe tent. A short kids yoga session or dance meditation to start the day right followed be a short walk to see what activity the boys wanted to do, ranging from chalk carving at the tinker station to making mandalas or upcycling. A quick snack and they were free to roam the play equipment; there was a pirate ship, sand pit, parachute and climbing frame, building up an appetite for lunch.
The temperature really rose in the afternoon so we would out the blankets out and have a little nap or go to the cafe tent for the storytelling sessions. Another chance to play or draw before dinner and then a chance to chill out in the main tent listening to an aural delights that were on offer for that evening. Overall it was a very relaxed affair, the children had a blast and I would definitely consider going back again, perhaps a little more prepared!
I paid £80 for my adult ticket which included parking, camping pitch and all workshops, the boys were free as under 5 so I’m not entirely sure how much a child ticket would have cost but that information wouldn’t be hard to find. There were a few issues with water and the sawdust toilets were fine for me but took a bit of getting use to for the boys as their favourite part of going to the toilet is flushing it!
I found out afterwards that Tom Hardy had also been at the festival and I’d missed my chance for a photo!
We’ve had a couple of days wrapped up inside thanks to blocked noses and sore throats, so yesterday when we all woke up feeling marginally better a little spontaneity was in order. I decided to take the opportunity to surprise the boys with a trip to the seaside (also an item on the bucket list).
I did a quick Google search over breakfast for the best beaches near London and Margate was the first one to pop up, so I searched for day trip suggestions.
After a less than 2hour drive, we parked in the recommended car park for Turner Contemporary (parking at £2.70 for 12 hours = a bargain). Unfortunately the art gallery closes on Mondays so that idea went straight out the window. Instead we went for a wander in the various antique shops and stumbled across The Curious Cupcake Cafe for a spot of lunch, and of course cupcakes. I really loved the old school milk bottles they served the boys’ milk in!
We then went to the highly recommended Shell Grotto, via the Tudor House. The boys were fascinated with the house but less than enamoured with the Shell Grotto. Made using 4.6million shells and no way of knowing how old it is, or why it was made in the first place. This underground Grotto was little more on the creepy side, too much for the boys, especially B who ‘escaped’ screaming his head off in fear. There is something to be admired about the intricate details and artistry that must have gone into it.
We couldn’t leave without a trip to the beach! (Dreamland was recommended to e by many friends when they knew where we were but I thought the boys could be too young to appreciate it) I hadn’t brought any swimsuits with me as I thought the sea would be too cold and the day too miserable for them to enjoy paddling in the sea. But we were graced with some glorious sun, they paddled and W promptly fell into the sea, face first much to everybody’s amusement!
We picked up a fish and chips, with mushy peas, dinner before heading home in another journey lasting less than 2 hours. It was such an easy drive and has definitely made me want to explore more of what our British coastal towns may have to offer!
W will be starting school this year, I thought we could make the most of our time together before being beholden by term time for holidays and days out by writing out a bucket list of things he wants to do before starting school. The first item on our list was camping, in particular he wanted the experience of roasting marshmallows round a campfire. A quick Google search for glamping in Devon later, and I had booked us a last minute 4 night stay at Cuckoo Down Farm.
We arrived late afternoon to our gorgeous safari tent, Poppy. We were the only ones staying at the farm as it was term time but it meant that B and W were free to roam the glamping field without disturbing anybody. The card, wine and chocolate was a lovely welcoming touch. Our first night was definitely a learning curve as I discovered that I was inexperience in the art of wood burning stoves.
TOP TIP: Make sure you know how to use a wood burning stove or be prepared to ask for help, to avoid spending the first night snuggled together in PJs, jumpers, 3 pairs of socks and under plenty of blankets.
We spent our first morning admiring the view from the barn; it held the fridges for each tent/yurt and shared freezers, showers (though we had our own hot shower and toilet at the back of our safari tent), washing machine and charging points for phones and lamps. I had finally got the wood burning stove working, which meant warm croissants for breakfast before exploring the 3 acres of woodland on the farm. W had brought his British Wildlife book on holiday with us in the hopes of finding some creepy crawlies, and B was convinced he had seen a flash of a rabbit in a blue coat (Peter Rabbit enthusiast!).
We had a lovely lunch at local pub, The Golden Lion Inn in Tipton St John. Everybody was incredibly friendly and helpful, the food was delicious and we were able to spend our afternoon walking along the nearby River Otter.
On Wednesday B and W had the opportunity to meet, brush and ride Ebony, the pony. We also met some newborn lambs, said hello to Honey, the goat and fed the chickens as well as collected some eggs for our dinner.
I had packed a picnic lunch for us to take to Sidmouth, with plans to enjoy the Jurassic coastline and explore the pebbled beach pretending to be fossil hunters. However, it was so windy and unpleasant for us all, we resorted to seeking shelter in the car and returning to the farm to read books in front of the stove with warm milk and cookies. I also decided that tonight would be the night we had sausages around the campfire and toasted marshmallows much to their enjoyment!
Our last full day, I had considered the just under 2 hour drive to The Eden Project in Cornwall however after looking at the one the day prices and reading reviews online I settled on a linked site, The Lost Gardens of Heligan. We were graced with lovely sunny weather for what a magical day it turned out to be. Firm favourites were the Giant’s Head and Mud Maid sculptures within the 60acres of woodland. W also enjoyed crossing the Burmese Rope Bridge in the Jungle while I carried B across. It is recommended for over 5’s but I allowed W to cross anyway as it was a quiet term time day and he could take as much time as he needed to cross. We had lunch at one of the cafes where you could take your food outside and borrow one of the many picnic rugs available. We finished our day looking at the calf, piglets, lambs and chicks in the barn, watching a lathe demonstration and exploring the gardens.
Our last morning was spent enjoying warm croissants and porridge before the 4 hour drive home, we are all sad to go and it was an incredibly enjoyable experience for me, as I had had some reservations about taking them without another adult to help supervise/entertain. I would definitely consider glamping again in the future, but perhaps when they are old enough to help me with the wood burner!