Jonathan and I had a fabulous time at the Fort Victoria Foray yesterday.

We were there right from the start so had time to have a go at everything we wanted to do. Jonathan was probably at the older end of the age that these type of events are organised for and said there wasn’t too much that he wanted to do that he hadn’t done before – however we love Fort Victoria so it wasn’t hard to fill the day.

After a quick story about how the sea became salty with Sue Bailey Story Teller we headed off on a tree ID walk – it was a bit early so we were the only people on it which was great as we got lots of personal attention and we definitely picked up a few tips.

Next we had a quick wander down to the beach where we tried rock pooling without rock pools with Gift To Nature – it involved looking under loads of seaweed to find various creatures: fish, crabs, anemones etc. We only managed the anemones but others found more. As we were hungry we decided to find a quiet spot for some lunch and ended up perched behind the Aquarium. Then we popped in to have a look round – we love the aquarium and on this occasion saw the infamous weaver fish and a large cuttlefish.

 Had another look around all the stalls and Jonathan made a badge with the Wildlife Trust to add to his collection. Next off to the woods to have a look at the Forrest School area and make a clay face on a tree.


We started watching the Lifeboat displays but then went off to look at the new woodland trail.

We were not quite the only ones on the walk this time but very nearly. It was good to have a look at the new paths and also to see some of the work done by Ruth and Rebekah with the rangers and The Learning Zone a few years ago. We also got to see some of the musical items in the wood and learn how to tell the age of an oak tree without cutting it down (rule of thumb is measure 1m up and then measure around the trunk in centimeters – halve that number and you have a ball park age – the one we measured was about 100 years old).


 Time for an ice cream and while Jonathan was scoffing it I was watching the beautiful bees and butterflies on the buddleia behind the cafe


A bit of assisting with some kite flying, as well as a couple of HE conversations and a chat about Jonathan’s interest in animation, and it was time to pack up and head on home.

So yesterday was world wide knit in public day. I was at the Isle of Wight Festival (volunteering for Gift to Nature) so managed to knit pretty publicly there, not in front of the main-stage though but in the much more intimate venue the Kashmir Cafe. So here I am watching my friend Mick Watson play some lovely but rather wrist slitting songs (definitely seems to be my preferred genre) and knitting my sock (this is the one I had to completely frog as I had made it far to tight due to knitting it following the pattern for the wrong ply – DOH!)

Here are my new walking boots before heading out for their first trip – I’m very pleased with them as they seem very comfortable.

I started using these boots for the Isle of Wight walking festival. There are apparently over 600 walks to choose from over the course of two weeks led by all sorts of people some by organisations and many by just ordinary members of the public who want to share a favourite walk with others. It’s a brilliant thing and we have enjoyed many walks over the years we have been here.

Martin usually leads a few walks that link to his work. This year he was leading three based on a new booklet they have completed at Natural Enterprise about food and farming in the West Wight.

Last week Martin and I walked round the western Yar. This was slightly strange as the rights of way dept. had a walk scheduled on almost the same route at exactly the same time. Being friendly sorts we all joined together. It was a pleasant but unremarkable walk half of which we had done many times.

We also joined in a walk around Blackgang Chine which was very very short (only 1 mile) but very interesting – Jonathan who was with us was very taken by Simon Dabell’s description of the landslips being like a ham sandwich and I was very taken by seeing the house that Sheila Hancock grew up in as well as being able to get some bits that you can’t normally get to.

We also did a lovely walk around Mottistone.

Cream-spot Tiger moth

Martin has been leading a few walks in the walking festival, all drawn from a new walks booklet he has been involved in developing. Yesterday we took Jonathan along with us (girls too blistered from Walk the Wight) and did a brilliant walk starting at Mottistone heading down the coastal path to Brook and past the Longstone back to the car park. There were fantastic views of Freshwater Bay throughout. We saw a Cream-spot Tiger moth and Martin told us about some of the conservation based farming that was going on. As well as this though we also had the “no school today” question.

Martin at the front said he had 3 lots of the conversation, Jonathan said he had 5 lots. Martin mentioned he was asked about exams (Jonathan is 9 and looks young for his age – how worried do you need to be about exams at that age!) and “doesn’t he miss out on seeing his friends?”

I was trying to bring up the back and had time for a more lengthy conversations about HE. I just had the one conversation though. We did the standard questions:

Exams – “well the girls have got a few already and we only need the ones they need to get where they want to go” “Actually finding somewhere to sit exams if you want to do them is the most difficult part of HEing if you as me”

Socialisation: – “They’ve got lots of friends and get together to do various activities. ” “There’s a HE group on the Island with about 70 families in it” “They go to clubs” “socialising with a group of 30 children the same age doesn’t seem very natural to me” “The girls did Walk the Wight on Saturday with a group of teens ranging from 18 down to 13″

Being checked up on – “Local Authorities tend to interpret the law in a variety of ways – we send them a report once a year”

Then there was actually an interesting question:

“So what would you consider to be success, how would you feel you had succeeded?”

So I guess I should have gone on about my educational philosophy blah blah. But I just said “I’d want them to end up doing something that they felt happy and content doing.” If I was considering it in more detail for a written answer I’m sure I would have had far more to say and would have phrased it slightly better – I’m not really so interested in what they end up doing but that in their lives they feel contented and happy – but actually for me that it the most important thing.

So all the family went to the festival this year to volunteer with Island 2000 to raise money for bee projects on the Island. The littlest two only did Friday but the rest of us were there all week end.


So here we have Jonathan leaping between the staw bale sofas and being a very sucessful volunteer collector for Gift to Nature.

Don’t Adam and Holly look beeeautiful

Bee graffiti

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The South West coast of the Island is famed for its fossils. We arranged a work outing to take a look with a local expert. Unfortunately something went wrong and we managed to be in a different place to our expert at the appointed hour. Having driven all that way we figured we might as well take a wander anyway, and Ian managed to discover this footprint, which he believes to have been left by an Iguanodon (I am an Iguanodon Ignoramus I’m afraid, so I will bow to his superior fossil knowledge!). There were more prints, but this one was amazingly defined.

Photo courtesy of Ian Boyd

Once that was out of the way we got down to the serious matter of playing on the beach and trying to find innovative ways of falling into Grange Chine. I’ll try and post some video footage next week.

As it never snows here on the Isle of Wight Dad’s (slightly crazy) work decided it would be a good idea to have a sandman building event. So we were dragged along in the freezing cold, whilst Mum was drinking coffee and eating lunch i a nice cafe somewhere. But once we got warmed up we quite enjoyed it.

I was going to put a photo of our Sandman on this post, but I can’t seem to remember how to put the photos there. oh well. Anyway because we were so incredibly beautiful the county press woman came over to me and Ruth and said because you’re so amazingly beautiful can I take your picture……well something along those lines….ish

We had some fun at work last week, with Dan and Simon launching their hand built boat, made from scrap from neighbouring businesses. Used the opportunity to have a go at putting together a Youtube video from the assorted camera video clips and sound files we had recorded.

Today I’ve been out before 7am (despite it being a bank Holiday) with my Nordic walking poles (picture to follow when I have one)

Then we did the Lizard walk at Ventnor with Island 2000 Trust as part of the IoW walking festival. No lizards as it was too cold 🙁

This evening I had ants in my pants and decided to do another walking pole walk. This time I was accompanied by Bex, who is normally too embarrassed to be seen with a parent with poles, as we were unlikely to be seen by anyone too important.