Behind the scenes at Dunham Massey

Sometimes misreading a calendar has it’s advantages, and this was one of them. Dunham Massey is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for a while, so whilst looking through the national trust book I ‘thought’ it said the house reopened to the public from February.

Off we set, a grey day with drizzly rain which got heavier and heavier the closer we got. Thankfully it was well signposted and easy to find as I forgot the trusty sat-nag (she drives me bonkers and causes more road-rage than any driver ever could)

So we arrived and made a quick dash inside, unfortunately the house wasn’t fully open but they had guided tours for certain areas. I was a little disappointed (at my mistake) but my mind was soon changed as we had a great time.

The first tour was all ‘below stairs’ the guide was beautifully dressed, very informative and hilarious. He told us all about what jobs we would be expected to do, conditions and even had the children getting involved. One boy (aged about 6) was perfectly dressed for his new role as a tiger in his orange and black coat. A tiger was a small stable boy who held the reins of a horse to keep it from moving around. Oscar and another boy were too young to be household boys, so they could have been scarecrows, running up and down the fields shouting to keep the birds away. At 12 they would/could have moved inside of the house for other duties. The first being silver polishing, which they both did very well.

Then we went into the kitchens and laundry rooms, time for us to get wet. The children had a go at washing using a tub and dolly, it lead to lots of splashing and laughing. They all agreed that washing machines made life a lot easier now. It was interesting to discover that gin was used for washing silk, I wonder at what point they decided to have a taste?

The next tour was the art of the house and the two tour guides made this tour something special, they were like a comedy double act. Even Oscar, who wasn’t looking forward to this one because it sounded boring, loved it. The half hour tour took 90 minutes and I’ve never laughed or enjoyed a ‘serious’ tour so much.

I learnt a lot from both of these tours and we are both looking forward to going back again to see the rest of the house and explore the beautiful grounds, weather permitting.

Getting home was an adventure in itself as following road signs for the motorway lead us round in a circle back to where we started ! At least we know for future reference which signs to follow and how to get home.

A bit of plastic

A couple of weeks ago a small piece of plastic came into our lives and made quite a difference. What is this ?

 

A fidget cube, a small cube, 6 sides with something different on each side to fidget with. Very simple, but also effective. I fits neatly into the palm of your hand and even for a child its comfortable to hold. I bought it for Oscar, to try and stop his nail biting (he’s hardly got any left) and it’s working. Each side has a different action, some click whilst others are silent, each has a different feel.

It was originally designed as an anti-stress ‘toy’ for adults, however for children with anxiety or sensory issues it also has advantages.

After a quick chat with the teacher it was decided that he could have it in class, provided he didn’t ‘mess’ about with it or use the clicker too often. It has been successful. He says it makes him feel calmer and it helps him concentrate.

Unfortunately the small size also makes it easy to lose, as was the case a few days ago. We turned to house upside down but nothing. I ordered a couple of spares, and true to form the original one turned up on the day the spares arrived. I find myself quite often holding it and it is calming.

 

Lady Lever Art Gallery

I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve lived about 5 miles from this place for approximately 30 years and I’ve never visited, until today. I’m glad I finally did.

What a beautiful, interesting building in a stunning location. Port Sunlight, built by the Lever brothers to accommodate workers from their soap factory.

 

 

 

The building was commissioned and built to house William Lever, 1st Viscount Leverhulme, personal collection of art, fine art and antiques.

It is split into 30 interconnecting rooms, which house both permanent and temporary exhibitions. The current temporary exhibition is Fresh Perspectives, art, embroidery and sculptures created by local school children aged 14 – 17 years old.

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Some of the rooms are set like bedrooms, sitting rooms, others are as you would expect an art gallery to be. Hanging art work, cabinets with pottery and sculptures. The central room is circular with a domed roof and filled with sculptures and busts.  On a sunny day, like today, the light in there is beautifully calming.

 

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Floors and the domed ceiling.

They have lots of activities for children around the galleries and downstairs they have craft rooms, a cafe and shop. A lovely way to spend a couple of hours and I won’t leave it so long before I return again.

 

Reading Challenge

I was doing well with  The Reading Challenge last year, until September then I seemed to lose my focus and concentration. I didn’t do too badly though.

So I’ve started the new 2017 one, again I’m sticking with instagram #26bookswithbringingupburns

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A couple of the categories were the same as last years, or very similar so I’ve missed a couple out and kept the others.

  1. About a place/time you wish you lived –
  2. In a genre you usually avoid –
  3. With yellow on the cover –
  4. That’s becoming a movie in 2017 –
  5. Book with one word title –
  6. An audiobook –
  7. You can get for free –
  8. You planned to read last year but didn’t –
  9. You read on a trip/vacation –
  10. Suggested by a friend –
  11. From a series you started but have yet to finish –
  12. You can finish in a day –
  13. Published this year –
  14. With an epic romance –
  15. That takes you somewhere warm –
  16. Of short stories or under 200 pages –
  17. Considered a 20th century classic –
  18. Set in the future –
  19. You choose because of the cover –
  20. With a mother/daughter relationship –
  21. With a reputation of un-put-down-able –
  22. A free choice –

I have already begun and made the most of a few child-free moments, I have set a target of 20 but would like to complete it, I need suggestions please (especially for number 10)….

 

Proud Mama moment

Sorry but sometimes you just have to brag. My beautiful boy has a love of reading and writing, even with dyslexia and concentration issues, he ploughs on through.

Earlier this year he heard about a creative writing group and wanted to join. So off we went and it was fantastic. They talked, played games, made notes, wrote poems and stories but most of all he made friends and built his confidence in his ability.

His story was published in a book, which we gave to relatives as a present. img_5734

Don’t let anything hold you back. If you enjoy it, then do it (as long as it’s legal)

One thing being a parent has taught me is that children just do. It’s only as we get older that we let fear hold us back, but fear of what ? Usually failure or looking stupid, well don’t worry about it because whilst you think you look stupid, other are watching thinking how brave, I wish I could do that.

Make 2017 the year you have a go..

Life and things …

Things have been a bit crazy for the last few weeks, obviously we had the wedding, then the shock of a job offer at the start of the half term holidays. Thankfully it helped take some of the pressure off and lifted everyone’s spirits.

Half term was a mixture of homework and fun days.

We started with a cinema day on Monday, 2 films, once again a freebie from Odeon, and lovely comfortable seats too. A lovely mum and son day.

Tuesday was another interview day for me, Oscar had an easy day, Wednesday we caught up on homework and had a minecraft building session.

Thursday we changed our plans a few times, we were supposed to be bowling but I forgot to book the lane and when we got there it was full of pensioners. We didn’t fancy hanging around for an hour so went to Spaceport at Seacombe ferry. We haven’t been here for a long time, although not much has changed, it was very interesting and the planetarium/space dome theatre was really good.

Friday we spent the day in Liverpool, first stop was the world museum to see the animal mummies exhibition. A quick bite to eat then a walk down to the Albert dock and Tate Liverpool to make our own piece of art and see the famous Tracey Emin ‘bed’, Oscar said ‘she’s very unhealthy because she drinks too much alcohol and smokes’ To be fair it was a pretty fair statement from what we could see.

The weekend was tidying bedrooms, sorting clothes and uniform, kits and generally getting ready for school and work !!

Monday was my first day, only a few hours but so much to do and learn. It went very quickly, everyone was lovely but I don’t think I’ll ever learn all the names or the computer system.

Today seemed quiet still waiting for all my required authorisations to come through but I think tomorrow I might be let lose on real people and the computers, thankfully with a shadow and lots of support.

I can honestly say I am enjoying being back doing something useful, even if it’s only a few short hours a week, fingers crossed the hours increase in the near future.