Family Time

Creative ideas for long summer days

Creative ideas for long summer days

Pebble games Our holidays usually involve packing up warm fleeces, a flask of hot tea and a tub of flapjack and heading off for a chilly beach, usually British, occasionally French, but most importantly well strewn with plenty of interesting stones and shells to pick through. Beach pebbles look so pretty when they are wet and shiny, and we are soon happily filling our little plastic buckets. These games and activities have been inspired by many such long days and iffy weather. Please remember when collecting stones from a beach to do so responsibly: some of our beaches need all the sea defences they have to save them from further erosion. Pebble lotto On a large, sturdy piece of card draw some shape outlines, such as a square, circle, heart or oval. Make the shapes different sizes and round off the corners and edges. Leave a space to add in...

Creative ideas for long summer days

Pebble games Our holidays usually involve packing up warm fleeces, a flask of hot tea and a tub of flapjack and heading off for a chilly beach, usually British, occasionally...

Family Camper Van: Claire Thomson shares what she loves about getting away from it all

Family Camper Van: Claire Thomson shares what s...

It is a remarkable feeling to take to the road with ample provisions, shrugging off the day-to-day and household responsibilities, in search of high adventures and a need to reconnect with the world beyond our front door. We are creatures who have roamed for millennia, after all, and deep in our collective make-up is a need to look up at the stars in the sky – or rather, and perhaps a more current phenomenon (certainly for me), a need to switch off from work and spend quality time with my family. Camping offers a more hand-to-mouth existence and, even if you are staunchly the sort of person who requires running water and electricity to enjoy yourself, living outside, whether for a night, a week or more, allows for a different sort of reality. Freer, certainly; more weathered, definitely, with the rhythm of your day then subject to more base conditions...

Family Camper Van: Claire Thomson shares what she loves about getting away from it all

It is a remarkable feeling to take to the road with ample provisions, shrugging off the day-to-day and household responsibilities, in search of high adventures and a need to reconnect...

How to preserve summer produce: four recipes to try

How to preserve summer produce: four recipes to...

Preserving is a way of making sure that fresh foods can be kept for longer, ensuring they do not go to waste. This was very important in years past, when the vegetable plot outside the back door provided the food that you ate each day. Preserving was a way to keep food on the table in the winter months. Today, when food is grown in huge quantities and imported year-round, and commercial preserves are easy to buy, there is less reason to make preserves, yet many of us still love to do it. There is something very special about cooking a batch of raspberry jam from fruit picked from the garden, or making something delicious from foraged blackberries and apples. I was brought up in a family where we used to come home to pots of green tomato chutney gracing the table, and it was very comforting to see a larder...

How to preserve summer produce: four recipes to try

Preserving is a way of making sure that fresh foods can be kept for longer, ensuring they do not go to waste. This was very important in years past, when...

Wild Camping: introducing children to this outdoor adventure

Wild Camping: introducing children to this outd...

The best adventures, big or little, are those shared with the ones you love. – Clangers, episode 32, ‘Granny and Small’Some of my favourite adventures have been wild camping in the mountains, sleeping with the sound of a stream and waking up to amazing views, and feeling connected to nature. Once my wife and I had children, this was something we wished to share with them. I am a big fan of starting small and building up incrementally. So before I could get to the point of heading off into the mountains with our son with all our equipment on our backs, I needed to introduce him to camping. The obvious first step on this journey was to do the travelling by car. We quickly became comfortable camping with Ewan, and he seemed to just assume that these trips to campsites were a normal part of life. He was happy...

Wild Camping: introducing children to this outdoor adventure

The best adventures, big or little, are those shared with the ones you love. – Clangers, episode 32, ‘Granny and Small’Some of my favourite adventures have been wild camping in...

A new kind of fun: my first festival with a baby

A new kind of fun: my first festival with a baby

Dancing at 6am as the sun rises. Making friends with strangers who you’ll never see again. Waking at noon with a terrific hangover and gasping for water in a stuffy polyester cocoon. These are my festival memories. And there’s one very obvious thing missing: a baby. For me, pre-parenthood, babies and festivals were not compatible. In fact, in the years before children, I probably couldn’t have imagined anything worse.  Then along came my firstborn and everything changed. Now everything revolves around babies – especially our holidays. Seb was a November baby, and when I began thinking towards summer, I realised I didn’t want to miss out on those idyllic festival experiences. I knew it would be difficult, but just how difficult? Really, really difficult? Make-you-want-to-pack-up-and-go-home-and-cry difficult? Surely there’s a reason families keep going back to Glastonbury. Perhaps it was FOMO, or perhaps I wanted to challenge myself; either way, I...

A new kind of fun: my first festival with a baby

Dancing at 6am as the sun rises. Making friends with strangers who you’ll never see again. Waking at noon with a terrific hangover and gasping for water in a stuffy...

Voice of a Grandparent - Summer

Voice of a Grandparent - Summer

Hello, I’m Karen, and I’m grandparent to Gabriel. A love of nature is the legacy I hope to leave my toddler grandson. Together we have smelled wild garlic, seen a frog surface from a pond, listened to magpies, wondered at a fox sauntering by – all within the environs of his urban home, where I care for him three days a week. We regularly spend time sitting and watching the ants emerge from the stones in his back garden, or scattering dandelion seeds with our breath. Simple pleasures, all around us. I fear, however, that in today’s technology-heavy homes, the flat screen may win the day, keeping him indoors, away from nature, as he gets older. Technology has its place and is hugely beneficial in many ways, but learning about the wonders of nature second hand, boxed inside four walls, is no substitute for the real thing. I have one...

Voice of a Grandparent - Summer

Hello, I’m Karen, and I’m grandparent to Gabriel. A love of nature is the legacy I hope to leave my toddler grandson. Together we have smelled wild garlic, seen a...

How to make your own flower crown

How to make your own flower crown

Is there anything that says “Summer, come at me!” more than a flower crown? I think not, says Beci Orpin. Flower crowns have also been a mainstay in music-festival fashion for the past few years, but you can make a flower crown for any reason or any season. We have gone for a crazy, over the-top crown here, using a fairly simple collection of flowers, but with maximum volume potential. I’d say this floral beauty is more suited to an afternoon tea party rather than bouncing around at a festival, but it’s up to you. And I’m pretty sure Frida Kahlo (the queen of all flower-crown wearers) would approve, too. YOU WILL NEED Florist wire or thin wire Wire snips A variety of flowers and foliage: choose different shapes, textures and colours but make sure they complement each other (I used gyp/baby’s breath, sedum and pink hypericum berries)  Scissors Floristry...

How to make your own flower crown

Is there anything that says “Summer, come at me!” more than a flower crown? I think not, says Beci Orpin. Flower crowns have also been a mainstay in music-festival fashion...

Make the most of summer days with these ideas

Make the most of summer days with these ideas

Summer is the afternoon of the year, a time for breathing out and letting go. It is also the time of long summer holidays which are full of promise for parent and child alike. Homeschoolers may be looking for a change of pace to reflect a different season, and parents with children at school for the majority of the year enjoy reconnecting with their families and having a break from restrictive routine. The reality of filling days of unreliable British weather, however, can be daunting and having a few tricks up your sleeve will help the holidays pass with success. Like any good party, for the summer to feel dreamy and effortless, a certain amount of planning is required. While there’s no need to dictate busy activities for every minute of every day, some structure to your unstructured time can be a helpful motivator for children when they simply feel...

Make the most of summer days with these ideas

Summer is the afternoon of the year, a time for breathing out and letting go. It is also the time of long summer holidays which are full of promise for...

How singing outdoors can connect us to the natural world

How singing outdoors can connect us to the natu...

Stepping into the rainy woods on a weekday morning with your toddler might not seem like an enticing proposition. As mother to a five-year-old myself, I often recoil from the blurry scene outside my window, and I’m a staunch outdoorsy type. In all but the most ferocious weather though, there are gems of experience to be found among the mud and puddles. Children, at first reluctant to venture out, soon seem to find breathless adventure once feet meet soil, even in nondescript corners of scrubby green space. What has revealed itself to me over the three years I’ve been running Wild Birds Singing, a woodland singing group in Devon for children and families, is that a little infrastructure offers the encouragement and support that can make all the difference to actually getting out that door. A canopy rain shelter, warm campfire, hot cuppa, chunk of wholesome flapjack and somewhere to...

How singing outdoors can connect us to the natural world

Stepping into the rainy woods on a weekday morning with your toddler might not seem like an enticing proposition. As mother to a five-year-old myself, I often recoil from the...

How to create meaningful seasonal celebrations with your family

How to create meaningful seasonal celebrations ...

As a celebrant, I find it greatly rewarding to encourage people to create ceremonies that are relevant and satisfying for them. I strongly believe that rituals and ceremonies to mark rites of passage and life events are of vital importance to us, both culturally and as individuals. Underpinning and interwoven with these irregular events is a rhythmic, seasonal calendar of festivals, which I celebrate with family and friends. I started developing these festivals for myself when my partner’s job necessitated a move away from the Snowdonia Steiner School. I realised that in order to stay in touch with the cycle of the year in the way Waldorf education encourages I would have to embrace the responsibility of creating festivals at home rather than just going along to those provided by the school community. I have since also been drawn into following the Celtic Wheel of the Year. Creating my own...

How to create meaningful seasonal celebrations with your family

As a celebrant, I find it greatly rewarding to encourage people to create ceremonies that are relevant and satisfying for them. I strongly believe that rituals and ceremonies to mark...