Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Get off my mouse

Our 1 year old has a wonderful fascination for reading. I say reading but what I really mean is looking at every book she can find.

Yesterday she picked up a book from the huge box of books we have in the dining room and wandered off to the hallway, sat herself on the doormat and spent 15 minutes just looking at the book again and again. I half expect to find her trawling through the daily newspaper whilst having her nappy changed!

You really can't complain when your children love books can you. We spend a lot of time pointing things out to her in books, as well as on walks out and generally around the house. I'm constantly amazed at how much little ones know -v- what they can say.

On the subject of development and learning, we bought our 3 year old a computer for Christmas. Now, before you think we are bonkers and spent a fortune on a laptop or iPad, this is a Vtech My Laptop and is brilliant.

Our daughter loved to sit at my PC and try and do things but that often resulted in a screen covered in half vanished applications (where she'd managed to move them nearly off the screen) or lots of random things opened up. She's a whizz with Paint though and has done us some lovely pictures all on her own! So, we decided this would be a great choice for her. She loves it. She is like a 'big girl' sitting at the dining room table, moving the mouse around and playing games whilst learning.

The computer features:
  • 30 activities
  • Friendly squirrel character leads play in forest themed activities
  • Teaches basic age appropriate curriculum including phonics, letters and maths
  • 8-directional cursor mouse encourages early computer skills
  • Moveable mouse for left or right handed users
  • Comes with free workbook for additional learning
  • Features carry handle for on-the-go play
When I am busy on the PC, she comes into the room and says "I'm going to do some work on my computer now mummy so please be nice and quiet". It comes back to bite you doesn't it ;-)

If your children are like ours, are fascinated by the PC, love to keep prodding away at your keyboard and enjoy moving your mouse at totally the wrong time, I highly recommend this little computer for them. It retails at just £16.99 and when you think of the educational and fun value, that's money well spent in my book.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Caching on War Horse's battlefield

Today we decided that the sun had come out so despite the wind (which was quite bitter), we wanted to go and get a few caches.

Off we headed to Wisley to another area of the More Common ring (image on right). This is a 5 mile walk around the back of RHS Wisley, part of Ockham Common and the Wisley Airfield. The 25 caches are mostly micros (film canisters) with the occasional small size thrown in. All the ones we have found, so far, appear to be very child friendly, ie. easily found by our 3 year old who loves caching :)

We decided this time to start at No. 1 - how unusual - and do as much of the ring as we could in an hour or so. There is plenty of free parking around this area and we headed off.

I was a little confused at first as my updated version of c:geo opensource decided to put my arrow the wrong way around so it looked like I was walking in the wrong direction all the time. It was like one of those Wii puzzle games trying to work it out at first but once my brain caught on, we were off. I also started up the official Geocaching.com app - just in case! ;-)

The route took us between fields and up to the old, abandoned Wisley Airfield, used in one of the battle scenes in Steven Spielberg's War Horse film (picture on left). Boy, it was windy in all that open space.

The ring took us through the barriers that mark out the public footpath across the airstrip. It was kind of odd to see these across the runway. Originally the airfield was built by Vickers and used as a flight test airfield for the aircraft built at their nearby Brooklands factory. It closed down in 1972 and is now abandoned.

Having walked around most of the airfield, we decided to call it a day as it was going to get dangerously close to dinner time for our two girls so we headed off and decided to come back another day and carry on. Yes, there is a real danger with hunger and our two. Once the 1 year old's body clock says it's dinner time, there is no stopping the commotion until she eats. Perish the fool who does not have her home by that point ;-)

Partial-ring caching is now our normal course of action with our 3 year old cacher walking with us. She has good legs but asking her to walk 5 miles is a bit much. I, of course, could do it easily....*cough*

Monday, 16 January 2012

Can I have a signal please?

It was my husband's birthday yesterday and we decided to treat ourselves. We organised our lovely friend to babysit for a few hours and decided to have some adult time. What did we decide to do? You may well ask. Not a romantic lunch for two or a relaxing drink at the pub. Oh no, not for us. We decided to go geocaching ON OUR OWN! Radical huh?

Most of the time (well, almost all to be fair) when we are out caching, one of us is pushing the buggy and one is holding hands with or chasing after our 3 year old. Holding hands together is a thing of the past.

Our friend arrived, the girls were fed so off we went, parked up and headed in the direction of the first of the caches.

I switched on my phone and waited for the map to load.

I took a photo of hubby over a stream and waited for the map to load.

We walked into a clearing in the trees and waited for the map to load.

I decided c:geo was playing up and went on to the Geocaching.com app and waited for the map to load.

I went onto Facebook and got the error you dread "No Internet connection, try again". What? It was fine yesterday. What could be wrong.

I switched the phone on and off and tried again. Nope, still not working. We stomped back to the car and drove to a pub to see if it was the area. No, still nothing. I phoned my eldest daughter to find she had perfect connection. What could it be? It was then I remembered she was on a different network - doh! Could it be that my network was down?

We returned to the original area and decided to just go for a walk. A walk?! Are we mad? Knowing that there are tupperware boxes hidden somewhere here and never quite knowing where (although I guessed one location correctly as you get a 'feel' for these things quite quickly) was torture. OK, not torture by rather irritating.

We ended up walking to Fairoaks Airport and seeing lots of lovely little aircraft coming in so low over the path you felt you could jump up and touch them. A couple looked to be swaying from left to right in the wind so we decided standing right in the landing line wasn't wise and moved off to one side - just in case. I had no idea the airport was so close by footpath as it's quite a little journey by road. Another one of those "I never knew that" moments that geocaching has given us.

We got home and I phoned my mobile provider. I got sent a set of instructions to set up a new internet connection. Tried and failed. Finally got hold of a woman who told me that I needed to simply remove the battery and restart the phone. It worked! That will be something I'll not forget to try next time.

Today we headed out and picked up 3 of the caches that we tried to get yesterday. We had indeed walked past 2 but would have been heading in totally the wrong direction for the 3rd. And yes, we had the buggy again, but it was still fun.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Picnic in January

You really would not believe it is 7th January would you. The sun is out and despite a nip in the air, it's a beautiful day. Too good a day to be stuck indoors so off we went to have fun with our favourite hobby!

We headed over to Ockham Common (picture on the left) today to do a bit more of the ring that we had started some months ago. With a buggy and a 3 year old walking, these things take a little longer sometimes :)

We headed off in the opposite direction to where we had ventured last time to pick up a few more caches. All nice, easy ones that are designed to be found. Mostly micros but a couple of smalls for swaps thrown in.

When we got to the A3 pedestrian/cyclist/horse bridge, we decided to have a wander over and grab one or two from the More Common ring also (picture on right).

Quite a nice wetland area here in amongst the dry ferns.

We decided on the way back to the Ockham ring to stop on a tree trunk and eat our sandwiches and have a 'mini picnic'. Not something you normally expect to be doing in January is it! Think back to last year...brrrrr....

Off we went again having seen lots of horse riders, cyclists and ramblers out on this lovely day. We headed around the edge of the ring to drop off one of our travel bugs to continue its journey and then headed back to the car.

With our 3 year old having walked the whole thing, we felt that 2 1/2 hours on her feet was enough.

We'll be back to finish the last 4 of these caches soon and get our teeth into the longer More Common ring (once I work out where is best to park!).

Thursday, 5 January 2012

All those who have an 'E' put your hands up now

Hands up all those of you who have...children with width fitting 'E' feet. (You thought I was talking about something else didn't you, you naughty lot). Come on, hold those hands right up there. No. No-one. I thought as much.

How come every single time I go into Clarks, the only shoes they have in the sale are pretty much 'E' width. I don't know a single friend with children who has ever had feet that narrow - boys and girls!

Today I bought my 1 year old her first pair of walking shoes. Yep, you guessed it, I scanned the lovely sale shoes (I don't care if they were last years styles) and found about 4 pairs in her size. Out came the lady from the back and said no, no, no, they are no good as they are too narrow. Yes, of course they would be. But look, they have lovely, 'Just in for this season' shoes that will fit her width beautifully. Who'd have guessed it?

So, instead of getting away with between £11 - £20 for a first pair of shoes that last - what is it? 6 weeks approx? - I have had to pay £28. Yep, £28! I barely spend that on my own shoes and mine last flippin' years.

Rearrange these words : a barrel over have you they (That sounded just like Yoda didn't it).

So, just some new shoes, trainers and wellies needed for 3 year old now but she's got a month of growth left so I can start to save...

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Blossom in December

We headed out on 28th December to do our first multi-cache and chose a short circular walk of approx. 1 mile around Chobham, Surrey. Off we set having parked in a nice, free car park. It was pretty quiet all around which was lovely but there definitely was a chill in the air today which reminded you it was in fact winter.

Having found the first area (nice and obvious), we crossed the busy road to the next location to pick up another number that would make our final coordinates. Of course, being a woman, I know best so totally ignored hubby pointing at a stone saying that this looked like the thing we were needing and marched to the bench to write down the appropriate number from that. Done. Off to the next bit!

Around we went like this exploring a village we had driven through so many times and yet hardly ever stopped in. Some lovely little places out of the way and areas we clearly never knew about.

Heading into the churchyard, we found another number then sat on a bench, watching someone mowing the large field behind the grounds whilst the little ones had a snack. I couldn't help but be amazed to see the beautiful pink blossom out on 28th December (see picture). Talk about mixed up weather.

Snack done and we were off to the next location. Two more numbers collected and I read the clue for the next location. We had sat on it for our lunch! Funnily enough I had read the inscription - which was required for the number - and knew I was right (although we did pop in again just to check on the way back past - remember our first 5*....yeah....).

All coordinate numbers found and I did the little sum needed to find the cache location. Oh dear. I had a minus number and I know that's not allowed. Guess where I had gone wrong? Yep, the 2nd location where hubby was indeed pointing at the right thing. Humble pie was eaten - begrudgingly ;-) New, correct, coordinates in hand and off we went to find the cache.

We arrived near where to it should have been and I realised we were going to need a kayak for this one. Oddly the description never mentioned any special equipment being needed so I rechecked the coordinates. Now, it was chilly and I really should have zoomed in on the map first as once I did that simple task, I spotted we had gone past the place and needed to do a quick double back to get there. A short walk later and the cache was in hand - albeit a very bedragled cache full of water and acorns :( I retrieved a travel bug that had been stuck there for a few months and tidied up the cache best as I could and replaced its lid.

Back to the car and the warm. Our first multi-cache achieved and two children sleeping in the car on the way back home. That's another nice few hours out! :)