Between Christmas and new tear we met up with both the Gibson and Anderson sides of the family.

Boxing day saw the traditional Boxing day visit of the Gibson family.

We had the usual walks, games, food and fun.



Telestrations – the new game Iain gave us for Christmas was so funny I could hardly play as all the hilarity was making me cough!




We had a gap in the family celebration while Martin went and played on the Saturday night with his Boy Band at The Hideaway in Shanklin



Then Sunday saw a departure from our usual Christmas traditions with a meet up with the Anderson side of the family at a restaurant in the New Forest. The ferry was packed but we squeezed in around a table and while 3 of us played our usual ferry card game of Yaniv 2 of us were swottily attached to textbooks!





This was my first experience of eating at a Michelin starred restaurant and it was a really interesting and delicious experience for me. It was so yummy I forgot to take photos of the food until we got to the pudding – which was definitely the best bit!






We managed to meet up with some friends and found the teenagers thrashed us at Demons – did you know the Archbishop of Canterbury also plays.




And then we saw out the old year and in the new at my favourite place on the island with some of my favourite people, eating curry and chocolate, drinking some sloe vodka, playing games and generally being silly – a great way to end and begin a year!



This year things have not gone the way I like them to. I like to try and keep Advent quiet of extra things so we can focus on preparing for Christmas. This year I have been ill and had lots of extra training to do for a new job. Many of the things I like to do, including not being rushed, have not happened.

Some of the good things though have been:

Going to a folk festival with great friends, I loved The Young Uns and Edwina Hayes (we heard her on the Introducing Stage and she was great). We were also brave enough to sing at the sing around – first time we’ve done that at anything other than one of the local little folk nights here on the Island at The Hideaway, we opted for our attempt at Beth Rowleys’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine

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 After the folk festival I had a week of training for a new, and only very p/t, job. This meant lots of trips to the mainland, dashing too and from the Red Jet, being in a not quite as warm as I would like swimming pool and this was not good for my cough, so I went downhill rapidly the week after and had to cancel loads of things I was planning to do – most notable the Learning Zone Christingle. However I was just well enough to manage to do the advent meditation i had planned for church and it was lovely I was really pleased I managed to get this done it was probably the highlight of the advent period for me.

However I was well enough to contribute to the cookie exchange and one of the joys of having older kids is that they can make their own cookies without help too and Jonathan took them to the meet up and distributed them and came back with a mountain of yummies from other home ed families.

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I was too ill to sing carols with any gusto which I felt very sad about but did manage to get out for a cocktail with some friends and we managed to:

decorate gingerbread houses

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Get the Christmas tree put up – the girls did it the Monday before Christmas when Rebekah came home from uni.


Get my driftwood tree up and the potato advent wreath made


make a very plainly decorated Christmas cake

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Jonathan managed a large star for the window


and we played some games


Our Christmas Days tend to follow a standard pattern each year.

1. Stockings – in our bed.

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we all had to make something home-made and i was really pleased that the minion wrisites I had made went down well!


2. Then it’s off to church, relatively early as we usually do the music and open up the church on Christmas Morning – great time, everyone was in good voice so the singing went well.

3. Back home and a starter of dips, veggie sticks and crisps and a glass of bucks fizz.



4. Time to open presents.



5. Time to prepare the dinner and play a game while it cooks.


6. Dinnertime – not a traditional turkey roast but toad-in-the-hole with cauliflower cheese and roast potatoes!


7. More games – Rebekah was delighted and some what surprised to win a game of Blokus and think we all won a various games of Articulate.



8. then some cheese and crackers and settling down to watch Doctor Who on the iplayer


We’ve just had our family Christmas with Susan’s half of the family. We watched the Wizard Of Oz together yesterday. Today we had allocated to spend:

exchanging presents.

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eating Christmas dinner expertly and deliciously cooked for us by Jonathan and Jane, a full turkey dinner and lovely pudding too!

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and playing Pitt (we’d borrowed it ages ago and it seemed like a sensible time to have an excuse to shout at each other lots!) and generally having a good time together.




Even once everyone had gone we were still having a lovely time listening to Christmas radio programs and chilling out – what a lovely weekend!

Some of our Christmas activities.

Martin and I went out for a Christmas meal, we went to The Taverners at Godshill, I’d never been before but it was lovely with lots of local food and I’d definitely go back again:



Making pomanders a few days before Christmas with some friends:



The we follow a pattern each year. My family comes over to visit the weekend before Christmas just a few days beforehand this year. It was only a quick visit but there was time to share dinner together and to exchange presents.



The day itself saw me up first – not the kids. So I got the breakfast ready and then everyone congregated in our room to open stockings together! Time for breakfast simple but nice – croissants and yoghurt and fruit and very very local honey from Sue Bailey. Rebekah reads us the note from Father Christmas and then it’s off to church where we were leading the singing and Martin took part in a strange ritual of finding the spiritual significance of many presents and Jonathan showed off his onesie!



After church we have our starter of dips and vegetables, then we open presents and then have our main meal (not a roast – this year Hairy Bikers Chicken Paprika). Then a game (ticket to Ride – although Ruth went and had a nap) then Christmas Doctor Who and Outnumbered and pudding. We do the same things more or less each year and everyone seems happy with it.



 Last day of celebrations for us on boxing day when Martin’s family come and visit. They were delayed by a missing ferry but we still managed to fit in lunch, a short walk, present exchange, game of cluedo and yummy dinner before they had to go back again.

I had decided before we went that I would walk up the tourist route not any route involving things with names like the horseshoe (with a narrow ridge and sheer drops) or similar. However, once I had walked up to the waterfalls the day before on the start of the innocuous sounding Watkins Path and seen that the climb looked steady on Pete’s map, I decided I would join everyone else going up the Watkins path and perhaps take the tourist route (or even the train) back. I also thought if I was finding it too hard I would turn back rather than feel like I needed to get to the top.



It all started off just fine – the path was wide and although steep in places it was fine. I didn’t even hold the group up – I wasn’t even at the back! I also found that my muscles weren’t aching and although I was getting out of breath I recovered quickly. The walking we have been doing regularly since our Cornwall trip must have paid off.



I started to believe I might actually get to the top – in fact I was starting to feel that coming down would be much worse, I don’t come downhill well and it was quite steep and a bit wet in places. I was loving my walking poles and also loving my walking boots.


Then we came to the scree – this was the point where I had initially thought I would go back – but I didn’t really fancy heading back the way we came and the scree was relatively short and I thought if I could just manage it then I could always take the train back. Besides I had started to feel like I had got this far I jolly well wanted to get to the bloomin’ top! I was really surprised by feeling like this because before we had started I really wasn’t bothered and I just wanted a nice walk, now I really wanted to get there (and beside I didn’t want to go back down).

I struggled up the scree, Martin helped me lots and my poles were now more of a help than a hindrance. At this point I was starting to hold people up. It took me a long time and I found the scrambling in the scree very hard but I did it, all the while telling Martin there was no way I was coming back this way! I was definitely slow on this bit and really admired my friend carrying her baby on her back. I was also interested to notice that Jonathan, who had been flagging on the steady walk up, did absolutely fine on this part but he also was not keen to come back over the scree.


The weather had been reasonably clear up to this point but now the visibility was really reduced and it was getting cold. We all regrouped outside the cafe and headed up the stairs to the very top in dribs and drabs, drank hot chocolate from the cafe and munched our sandwiches.

The general opinion was that going back down the scree field wasn’t a good ides so we’d go back by the southern ridge instead. I knew I was going to be much slower going down but decided to give this a try. The group decided to split in two with a faster group consisting of most of the teenagers and a couple of adults and the slower group with the smaller boys and most of the adults and the baby. Rebekah kindly stayed with us to keep an eye on the 10 year olds as she knew I wouldn’t be able to do that and that Martin would be helping me.


I needed a lot more help from Martin coming down and the poles seemed to be either absolutely essential or a complete pain. Most of it wasn’t too bad but there were quite a few places where I had to slither on my bum! It was worth it the views were amazing.



My knee started to hurt quite a lot on the way down but I managed it.

I managed it – I couldn’t believe the sense of satisfaction I had at the end – I was so proud of myself not only had I got up Snowdon but I had done it up one of the harder parts and I hadn’t felt completely unfit doing it either. Fantastic.



The teenagers hadn’t had enough with just climbing a mountain, they then went swimming in the pools at the bottom of the waterfalls – Ruth was particularly delighted to do this as she has wanted to do some wild swimming for ages. They also went for a little walk in the evening – youth is an amazing thing!


I went and did some hospital visiting in the evening and then came back to a lovely curry and a game of cards. My friend said she would give the day a 9 1/2 out of 10 and only not 10/10 because of the friend in hospital. I couldn’t agree with this more – it was one of the best days of my life even if my knee was hurting and my hips were aching. A great sense of achievement, the company of good friends, good food and playing cards – what a wonderful day.


Some time ago we changed the style of our Sundays to be far more relaxed and family orientated. This has been brillaint for us making sure we get a proper day off and spend some time together.

This Sunday was a particularly nice one.

Martin and I woke up ridiculously early and mooched about listening to the radio and enjoying the sun in our living room and looking at the silhouette of the Easter Tree. We were taking the second part of the service at church for “Chill Sunday” but had done all the preparation so there wasn’t too much for us to do. So a lovely cuppa and bit of mooching kept us happy.

Church went well. We were having an experiment with something different. So I gave a short talk and then we split up into groups to have a go at activities linked to the fruit of the Spirit.

Martin took a group outside to plant fruit (well rhubarb and lavender but we’ll add some raspberries too).


Ruth took a group for art (I even let them use my Sharpie pens) and lots of people made little plaques of the fruit of the Spirit.


There was a tiny discussion group and all the while we had some lovely low key music going on that people could join in with and help themselves to communion. I felt it worked very well and people seemed to enjoy the variety of activities on offer as a bit of a change to the usual – although I did wonder what the few visitors we had made of it!

We even, coincidentally, had cushions on the floor which made our moving about a bit easier.


So even though we had been involved in organising things it all felt very relaxed and not stressful for us.

The rest of the day flowed happily too. We had a relaxed lunch, played Ticket To Ride and demons, Rebekah cooked dinner and made some biscuits with Jonathan and Jonathan wrote stories. We drank the wine and spent a long time in lively robust conversation, with lots of laughter. Poor Jonathan can’t quite manage to get a word in and gets a bit frustrated. He has taken to putting his hand up to get attention, it seems to work quite well as we do pause and listen to him.

I love the fact that we all spend lots of time just sitting round with a glass of wine and enjoying each others company. The girls said that they think that because we do that on a Sunday we are more inclined to chat more on other days.







There is this maths site that I really like. It’s called Nrich and the main reason I like it is that it is full of puzzles.

But we’ve not really used them at home.

Why not?

Well because we have preferred that maths develops alongside their normal life lived and not to teach it formally but to talk about it and learn about it as it naturally crops up. I’m pretty satisfied that this works after the girls both achieved B grades at GCSE aged 12 and 14 after just over a year of study.

Anyway I decided to follow a link to one of their activities this month and print it out to see if Jonathan fancied having a go at it. I left it lying about and waited to see if he bothered to have a look at it. This morning he did and we had a go at it.

He had a quick go at the puzzle worked out the basics but in no way was interested in working out the best way to do the puzzle so we didn’t bother.

Then I suggested that he might like to play a game – his choice was Yahtzee.

Now the real maths began!

Unbelievably he threw a second Yahtzee of sixes.

We haven’t focused on learning times tables of anything so he doesn’t know instantly what five sixes amounts to. But as you can see, from how he has arranged the dice, he knows how to work it out.

The working went something like this:

“six and six is twelve – and that’s” (the other two sixes) “twenty four, twenty-five, twenty-six twenty-seven twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty”

I’m far happier with this than if he knew five times six was thirty by rote because he has shown that he knows how the number can work together and has used the brilliant strategy of doubling, he also used the brilliant strategy of “using you fingers” they are pretty much (baring tragedy)always there and are very useful for all sorts of maths.

The learning didn’t end there. Jonathan was a bit short on his top section so he had to work out how many points he’d get for having five sixes and the bonus thirty five against taking the Yahtzee. We nearly thought it would be better to take the sixes but finally remembered that a second Yahtzee was worth 100 points so he’d do better with that!

Ruth wandered in and heard us talking about Yahtzees and was pondering the probability of getting a Yahtzee.

She looked it up on line and couldn’t quite understand the answers she was getting. But I was delighted as this was the sort of thing that had always interested Ruth before we embarked on the GCSE course (Rebekah wanted to do the GCSE to go towards getting a handful to help her get into college and Ruth thought she’d give it a go at the same time). Since doing the GCSE she has shown absolutely no interest in this sort of thing until today. I found it depressing that working on the GCSE maths (so with an externally imposed curriculum) seemed to kill Ruth’s natural enjoyment of playing about with maths. Hopefully she’ll once more be able to enjoy playing about with maths like she used to.

Now I’ll have to work out the blasted Yahtzee probabilities and help her to understand them, if she is still interested tomorrow!

So far more maths was covered playing a game of Jonathan’s choosing (I was suggesting Tree-house) than by using the specific maths activity.

Will the kids learning be patchy by using this method? Yes it undoubtedly will but hopefully they will know enough that they can pick up other specialist maths as and when they need it. I firmly believe that they will learn enough by playing games and dealing with the everyday maths that life throws at them and any bits of it they want to study.