My favourite day at this site was definitely when we went to visit the Maastricht caves . We even had to cycle (or in my case push) up a proper hill to get there and we arrived a little early for the English language tour so there was time for yet another beer!

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The tour guide was brilliant, we had a long hot walk to the caves as the usual entrance was closed during which he established that we were a group that were a mix of English and German speaking so he switched flawlessly between both languages throughout the cave tour.

The extra walk was well worth it as we got to see into the vault which is usually too far for the tour. This was where many Dutch pictures were hidden through the 2nd world war, as well as a hidden radio and a fair few people!

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The caves are really man-made tunnels and there are the most amazing charcoal drawings throughout the caves.

Some dinosaurs,

the tour guide was rather critical of the fact that there were a couple of dinosaurs that were incorrectly included as they couldn’t have been from this area.

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An illustration of 5 people who helped the Spanish in the 17th century and then had their heads chopped off and displayed at De Vijf Koppen (The Five Heads Bastion).

We were quite excited to see this as we had visited this bastion on our walking tour the day before!

 

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A map of the underground caves and tunnels, it really is incredible just how extensive they are.

 

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My favourite part was hearing about the Jewish man who used the tunnels to escape to safety during the second world war and had carved his name in a wall in the 1940s and then seeing underneath the same name with a date just a few years ago when he had revisited the caves.

As well as the charcoal drawings there were many sculptures in the soft rock.

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The tour guide gave us a choice of the more adventurous experience or the standard one – we opted for the adventurous one and got to experience a little of the more creepy nature of the caves as the tour guide went ahead of us with the lanterns leaving us in complete darkness to follow him using our fingers on the walls as our guide. It was slow, scary and very disorientating even though i knew we were safe my heart was pounding at the complete helplessness I felt, if the tour guide left us we would have had no way out. He told us about some monks who had become lost in the mines and when they were later found their fingertips had been completely worn away as they had tried to trace their way out by running their hands along the rough walls. Many people have lost their lives in the caves and even with the torch light I was unable to identify which caverns we had been in before.

Jonathan was the only child on the tour so got to have a go at cutting a bit of the stone, it was soft but the idea of doing it for hours on end in the cold humidity was very unpleasant. People stopped working in the mines at the age of about 35 as the damp conditions led to horrendous arthritis.

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The temperature is about 12 degrees all the time in the mines which on the hottest day of the holiday was was a welcome relief!

Back outside we had lovely dappled sunshine

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and after a trek back up the hill we needed another cool beer and then enjoyed the unusual experience of free-wheeling down a Dutch hill to head back to the van.

Maastricht was an easy 30 minute cycle from out camp site, so we headed there for a couple of days.

The first day after the obligatory visit to the, rather impressive, tourist information centre (VVV)

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we set out on a walking tour of the city.

First stop was the magnificent bookshop converted from an ancient Dominican church – Boekhandel Dominicanen

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We opted for the fortifications tour so we saw lots of, well, fortifications.

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We learned that “molen” means mill and saw some watermills.

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Jonathan wanted to take some photos of the deer in the town park.

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We ended up back at the very empty town square and had an ice cream, toasted sandwich and a beer before cycling back to the camp site.

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We love going on holiday to The Netherlands – this year we decided to go somewhere other than the Katjekelder park in Nord Brabant so we headed for a camp site just outside Maastricht, Camping De Oosterdriessen.

This was a great choice: It had a large areas to camp in separated by light hedges,

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A lake to swim in,

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And some good weather to sit outside and eat the tarts

 

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and drink the wine we bought in France.

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Church camp with just 3 of us means we didn’t have to put up the awning so it was nice and easy in the campervan.

Music was good:

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With a reasonable sized congregation:

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Birthday cake was amazing:

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Jonathan enjoyed the pony rides:

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And the BBQing was well done:

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Great time, good company, very nice welcome 🙂

 

We had a great start to our Lincoln holiday. We arrived with no van problems at the lovely campsite at Hartsholme got the awning up and enjoyed some lovely fish and chips.

We spent the next day in Lincoln where we bought the world’s best ice-cream and visited the Museum of Lincolnshire Life. Rebekah was particularly incensed by the restrictions on women teachers in the Victorian era but it didn’t stop her dressing up!

  

However it all went downhill from there on!

Lovely camp with a few friends – pleasant weather – a chance to try out the van – very very cheap campsite.

  

Teapots and cake – very important when you are camping:

  

Big kids and little kids all mixing together, going off swimming, reading etc:

  

Bell tents and BBQs – BBQ needed the help of the airbed pump to get going:

  

 Last night cooking dampers round the fire:

 

  

At Corfe we did a retelling of Roald Dhal’s The Twits.

The idea is that you learn the gist of a chapter and retell that part so we get the whole story told by a variety of different people. This year our story tellers aged from about 4 up to – well I’m 39 and there were definitely some older than me!

The style of the story telling varied from the expressive to the dead pan and from the completely learned to those who needed the book to read from.

This was our youngest story teller – she was brilliant.

Here are some of our other young story tellers.

And some slightly older ones.

And some attentive listeners

And a few of the more expressive story tellers.

… we know our children’s abilities and how they improve why should we be constantly having to prove that they have progressed.

Take Rebekah for an example. last week at camp (there will definitely be Corfe camp pictures and blogging soon) Rebekah went Kayaking. She hadn’t done it since last year and this year she went out about 4 times. She was better this year than last year, but we haven’t measured by how much. We didn’t take a baseline assessment last year so we could test how much she has improved this year. we also didn’t have a programme for her to follow to make sure she improves in the correct way in the correct time for her age. But she got better, she built on last year’s experiences and was more comfortable doing it, and could go for longer and was much happier. And her face shone when she had done it and she loved it. But I guess I should really have done all that formal assessment because obviously that would have improved everything for her.

The pig don’t get fatter the more you weigh it.

A couple of weeks ago I went to my homeducation camp!!
It rained on us quite a lot but we still managed to go swimming in outdoor pool (brr)

Piccy of Jonathan cautiously edging into the very cold outdoor pool
lots of us made funky hair scrunchies to entertain us whilst it was raining!!
This is a pic of mine