Hello, and welcome to my monthly newsletter! July has been a busy month, with not one, not two, but THREE trips to Wales! We certainly feel like we made the most of the heatwave, and like we've had a proper summer holiday this month. Now that we are home, we are resting and catching up with family and friends, while beginning to prepare our home for the new academic year. I will be taking a break from blogging this August, to focus my time and creative energy on listing some physical products in my shop. You can read about my September plans for the blog at the bottom of this post.
Three Trips to Wales
This month has seen us take three trips to Wales. The first was to stay with Bean's Granny. We had a lovely day trip to Llandrindod Wells on the Heart of Wales train. The train is just one carriage and winds its way slowly through the rolling fields, villages and towns of mid Wales. We arrived in Llandrindod Wells in time for lunch, then we had a walk around the lake and shops, before catching the train home.
On our way home to Bristol, we took a detour to pick strawberries at Gower Pick Your Own. We picked 3 kilos of strawberries, which were literally the most delicious I've ever tasted. Once home, we made 18 jars of strawberry jam, as well as chopping some for the freezer and devouring the rest over the coming days. My goal for next summer is to have a strawberry bed in our garden that rivals our raspberry bed.
Our second trip to Wales was just a day trip, but it was a long and glorious one. We went to Southerndown Beach in the middle of the heatwave and it was absolutely blissful. When we arrived, the tide was in, so we had a walk and a picnic on the clifftops. Then we explored the rock pools while watching the tide slowly retreat.
Finally, the tide went out enough for us to get onto the sand and into the sea. I'm a bit of a wimp with cold water, and rarely swim in the sea in this country, but it was beautifully refreshing and we spent all afternoon in and out of the waves. We stayed until the early evening, waiting for the traffic to die down and for it to be cool enough to get in back in the car.
Our third trip to Wales was for almost a week, camping at Hillend campsite on The Gower with friends. This site is so idyllic, nestled behind the sand dunes of Rhossili beach. We had two days of intense heat, spending most of the day in the water to keep cool. The following days were a little cooler, but still warm and dry. Perfect for walking, exploring and more swimming. It was heavenly.
This month we have had our last few sessions with my sweet little goddaughter and mindee, who is off on her summer holidays now, and then starting school in September. Goodbyes are so hard. I'm going to be taking a break from childminding for the time being, apart from to offer a little bit of holiday child care. We are hoping to have an extension built in early 2022, which will be very disruptive, so I'm taking this time to review and think about alternative income streams for this short hunger gap.
Our raspberries have now finished. I'm going to get on with a ruthless pruning as soon as I find a spare minute. Now we are picking blueberries each day, although not nearly as many. Once our blueberry bushes have finished fruiting, I plan to relocate them into one of our new planters. We have also dug up our experimental potatoes. We planted a small handful of Maris Piper potatoes from the supermarket and have been reasonably happy with our little crop. We have tomatoes coming, but they're going to need some warm sun to ripen.
Aside from our three trips to Wales, we haven't ventured out and about a great deal this month. We had a lovely afternoon with friends at Willsbridge Mill during the heatwave. We spent the entire time with our feet in the Siston Brook, trying to keep cool and out of the sun.
We also had our first trip to Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery since the beginning of the pandemic. We went to see the Netsuke exhibition, a collection of miniature masterpieces from Japan. I'm hoping that they may inspire some clay work at home. It was lovely to be out and about in the city again.
My grandparents on my father's side are both in their early 90's now, and we obviously haven't seen them at all during the pandemic. Finally, we are all vaccinated, and it felt safe enough for us to have a short visit with them. We took lateral flow tests before leaving, and were planning not to cuddle, but they wouldn't hear of it!
We're hoping to resume our fortnightly cookery class in the autumn, but in the meantime we are trying to factor in a cookery session at home every week. We've started working our way through Jamie's 30 Minute Meals, starting with this tasty pasta dish and side salads. I made a lovely mustard chicken and dauphinoise potato dish from the same book recently, and both were delicious.
Preparations for the New Academic Year
As well as researching and sourcing the books for our upcoming projects, I've been trying to have a big tidy up, declutter and organise of our home education supplies. Here is a before and after photo of the area under our stairs. I need a better system for filing paperwork, and am yet to find a suitable spot for library books, but it's an improvement for sure. Art and craft supplies will be next!
The Fundamentals of Play: Art Materials
Did you know that I have released the first guide in my brand new, self directed course, The Fundamentals of Play? This course is a work in progress, but it will eventually be a collection of 24 guides, split into four units of study (Play Matters, Independence, Play Materials and Play Areas). This first guide on Art Materials has been compiled with love, and shares all my knowledge and experience of supporting children with good quality, open ended art materials. I'll be working on the Loose Parts and Outdoor Play guides next, so keep an eye out for those coming soon.
31 Days of Outdoor Play
I also have a brand new, daily email guide which starts tomorrow! Sign up is still open, so it's not too late to join us, but I will be closing the doors on August 6th. 31 Days of Outdoor Play is a collection of 31 PDF guides with instructions for simple, fun, low cost, low waste, child led and open ended play activities. Suitable for ages 3-8, with adaptations for the very young and extension ideas. Get outdoors every day this August, whatever the weather, and enjoy play time with your children. You can use the coupon code 31forthepriceof26 for a £2 discount at checkout.
Here are the blog posts I've shared this month, just in case you might have missed them.
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Next month, I'll be taking a blogging break as I would like to work on getting a summer play dough kit and some loose parts collections into my shop. In September, I'm planning a math focus for the blog, with posts on our favourite math books, math manipulatives and a review of our Spielgaben set. Stay tuned for those.
This blog post contains affiliate links. If you do click through, Bean and I will receive a small amount of commission which will contribute to new books and resources for her home education. You can, however, find all of these resources elsewhere, including other online retailers, second hand selling pages and your local library.