Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Meeting a lobster!

My parents live close to the coast, and as a result we have taken a number of visits to the coast whilst we have been staying with them. This one was a little different.

All togged up in several layers, we took a trip to Orford in Suffolk to catch a small boat called "Regardless" to go and see what is caught in lobster pots. Detailed as an 'excursion for the family', the boat was full of kids and accompanying adults - 23 of us in total. It was run by Orford Marine services.

The trip is all about seeing what comes out of lobster pots, and getting up close and personal with the catch of the day! On request we all chanted "lobster, lobster" as the pots were lifted...assured by our skipper that this would ensure the catch included a lobster!

We got lucky on the first pot and actually had a lobster on board the boat in the first ten minutes. The deck hand was very good at explaining about the lobster and quickly banded its claws so that it could not hurt anyone! That done, the lobster made a trip around the boat numerous times, and hit the deck several times as well. All the kids got to hold it. Henry was pretty unsure of it, but eventually we held it together, and he looked pretty proud that he managed that.

In addition to the lobster there were crabs of all shapes and sizes. We were shown how to carefully pick them up without getting nipped, then it was all hands on crab. There were hermit crabs, regular crabs and a velvet swimming crab, which actually felt like velvet to touch. How to tell the male and female crabs apart was detailed, as was the fact that they shed their shell every year.

The whole trip was extremely educational and informative, and fun. At an hour long it was perfect for the kids, and the boat was small enough so that everyone got to hold and touch whatever catch was available.

At the end, everything is returned to the sea, and a crab throwing competition ensued, even Henry threw a very small crab over board, returning it to where it belonged.

Looking a little wind blown - Debbie, William, Henry and I.....daddy was there, just behind the camera for once.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Henry paints his bedroom!

This weekend we returned to our house in the UK to do a spot of decorating - namely Henry's bedroom.

One of the top floor rooms (in a three floor stone cottage of around 250 years old) is to be Henry's bedroom. It's last paint job however, was completed about 10 years ago when there were no thoughts of kids and Kevin and i were not even married. Hence the terracotta (Kevin calls it orange) colour of the walls!

We decided the room needed to be bright and either blue or green - we decided on green.

Henry was so excited about being involved in the painting of it, i was very impressed.

Dressed in one of my mum's old T shirts he enthusiastically got on with the paint job using a huge roller! Luckily the whole floor was covered in plastic and anything of importance removed from the room.....as Henry and paint get a little messy!

He stuck with it for about 20 minutes before getting bored the first time. We gave him his own wall and told him to paint it however he liked! Lots of crosses, race tracks and faces appeared on the wall which was fun.

Henry returned to paint three times in total over the weekend and was very helpful...i think! He is totally excited about moving into his room, and can claim to have painted it himself...how cool is that!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A ride in a combine harvester

Henry is in love with John Deere tractors!....Well anything John Deere actually. When back in Chicago, we drove over to Moline in IL (over 3 hrs drive) just to visit the JD tractor museum for the day! At the museum, Henry got to climb in and out of full size tractors and harvesters of all sorts, which he thought was just great. However, his god mother Debbie totally topped this, getting him a ride in a combine harvester, actually harvesting the crop.

Henry is in the combine harvester in all these pictures, some you can spot him, others not.

The anticipation you could feel coming from Henry as he watched the combine harvest around the field was completely exceeded as it turned towards us and we told he he was about to get a ride in it.

With a bit of help to get up the steps, he and William took seats in the cab and began their trip around the field harvesting the barley crop. On the way round the combine was working to cut the crop, but the boys also got to see the tank emptied into the tractor and trailer travelling along side.

Tractors and combine are fitted with satellite guided harvesting equipment, so the driver has to do very little steering except around the corners and changing direction, so the boys were fascinated to watch the computer screen and harvesting details.

Paul, the driver was so patient with the boys, that they actually circled the field twice and cut the headlands a fair bit, spending about an hour out in the combine. Needless to say he asked if either of them ever stopped talking...ever!

Henry had a fantastic opportunity to experience something i have never done, and I'm sure he will have sweet dreams about it for many a long summer evening to come!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Knight for the day!

Henry has a love of all things castles, knights and of course the weapons! So it was with great excitement that we found a local castle offering "knight school and battle reenactment" for school age kids.

Framlingham castle in Suffolk is a fantastic old castle that has been well preserved and offers a great experience for adults and children. We visited during school holidays and as a result there were lots of activities aimed at kids of all ages.

Henry and i started with a walk around the ramparts of the castle. He really enjoyed this. We discussed what the slitty holes in the walls might have been used for (shooting arrows). We looked at the chimneys and the views around to see where an attack might have come from.

Back on the ground, Henry took part in 'knight school' - learning how to fight in battle! I spend all my life at home telling him not to hit anyone with anything, and there i am on the side lines shouting "hit him Henry" as my poor son tries to attack a 10 year old with a blow up sword! He really was not sure he should be doing it, but soon realised everyone else was hitting him, so he might as well join in!

There are great grounds around the castle, and you can actually climb the hills to the bottom of the castle walls, then encircle the castle by walking in the dry moat. We did this and had a lot of fun climbing up the hills and rolling back down, and climbing all over the broken down parts of the castle.

Back in the castle, there was just time to try on some of the original armour worn by the knights in battle, before Henry took part in a reenactment of the battle of Agincourt!

About 60 kids became the English army, ready to take on the French (the parents). Henry and about 10 other smaller children were the knights on horseback, who rode through the battle scene on regular intervals! He had a lot of fun, although seemed to have got the idea of sword fighting no problem as he battled with those in his own army while they awaited orders!

A really fun afternoon, we shall look out for other English Heritage events near us.