A trip to IKEA can be a place where you learn too

Really?  It is amazing how many people don’t realise that you can turn any place that you go to into a place of learning. Take IKEA for example. A lot of people say shopping in IKEA is their idea of hell. To Beanster and Moo it is a wondrous haven of fun and practical learning potential.  We have never once used the creche.  The girls have never asked to go there. They would in fact think they were being denied fun if not allowed to come with us. At times it does feel like herding sheep for us,  but each visit the girls get something new out of the experience.  So here is our visit in summary.

As we didnt arrive until lunchtime Mama went to buy our food and we watched a Diwali video on YouTube then looked at the IKEA catalogue. Beanster read out prices of different items and we talked about how some things cost more or less than her pocket money. Moo practised turning pages.



We talked about the different countries our food came from. Swedish meatballs for Beanster and Italian for Moo. I had an Indian style curry and Mama a mixture of Italian and Swedish.


I am sure the staff and customers wondered where the ‘musical’ noise was coming from when they started gently drumming on various objects. No objects were damaged in the making of said music. Time to break out the drum kit in the loft (permission please Lyall)


Motor skills were practised with the kiddie trolleys. Very few ankles were biten by the trolleys although I did get a few strange looks from other shoppers when i turned it into a driving lesson and got them to park in imaginary Tesco car spaces! Oh and we did look out for various sites of tourist interest on our journey. We passed Blair Drummond Safari park (the cuddly elephants), Blackpool illuminations (the lighting department) etc. You get the idea. 




Moo made her own video when Beanster went to the loo. 


Other highlights included selecting various Swedish foods from the food shop to try; briefly playing with children’s toys (they find them a bit dull now); practising writing lists; discussing and selecting appropriate plants for a terrarium Beanster wants to make…..

Of course no trip to IKEA is complete without a wee snack  at the end. 


At other points of the day we….

Discussed the weather



Played Diwali bingo 




Did more Okido magazine. Robots today and Beanster was wire obsessed.



Emptied the dishwasher and put everything away. Beanster compared cutlery size to correctly sort them into the adult’s holder and the kid’s holder. 


Pulled faces 


Made Diva lamps 



Watched the Wizard of OZ 

Bedtime books were more of the food non-fiction book, another chapter or two of Gobbolino the witch’s cat and Mr Tickle.

Wonder what we will learn tomorrow…..


A wet and wild day

Today was quite dreich but that didn’t matter as we were going swimming with Grandpa today. Granny enjoyed observing from the cafe. Beanster practised her breathing techniques and trying to retrieve a weighted hoop from the bottom of the pool. She has been finding this difficult in her swimming lessons because she is so light and just floats back to the surface. Today she was determined to manage it and when she remembered to blow bubbles and use powerful arm strokes she managed to retrieve it from a 1metre depth. We now need to work up to managing this in slightly deeper water so she achieves her sticker in class. Moo wanted to practise leg kicks and jumping in and played with Grandpa at the chute and water pumps. 

After a hot dog lunch (and practise for Beanster at buying a snack from the cafe) we headed to the library with Granny to get some new books. The girls always enjoy using the machine to check their own books out and then stamp the return date on them. We have come home with a selection of fiction and non-fiction books which we started to read at bedtime. 




After some play back at Granny and Grandpas we headed home and the girls designed their own experiments using ink, paper, wipes and water. 









There was a bit of model making, labelling items around the house, invisible ink creations and superhero role play later on. Evil Tornado Man needed to be stopped from destroying the world. 






Bedtime stories tonight included a Mr Men book, Gobbolino and a lift the flap information book about food. 


Under the Trees

Today was the ‘Play Out’ session with p the Trees, but before heading there Mama took the girls to a second hand ballet clothing sale to get Beanster kitte3ld out for her ballet class. We had decided NOT KCAL Z W 2 not to get clothing for her until she was definitely sure that she wanted to keep going. She has been for a few weeks now and is enjoying it so clothing was now needed. It was a successful trip and almost new tap shoes, ballet shoes and a leotard were purchased for a fraction of the cost. Moo even scored herself a wee leotard to dress up in and play with.

Next the girls headed to the woods for an afternoon of outdoor fun. It rained on and off throughout, but that didn’t stop them taking part in all the activities. I was working there today, at the messy art area, so the girls came by frequently to say hello and do some painting.





The girls are a little choked today so after the woods they went home for a chill on the sofa, with some TV. When Beanster perked up a little she wanted to put on her ballet gear and do a bit of dancing.


Both girls are now having an early night to try and clear all the snot and coughs that have built up over the day.

Eid in the woods

Today we headed to Callendar woods to take part in the Eid in the woods event. This event was jointly organised by Al Masaar, a Falkirk based charity, and The Forestry Commission, to celebrate Eid Al-Adah in the great outdoors. This is the second Eid festival of the calendar year. 

Stacey and Lyall came with us but as Moo fell asleep in the car Mama stayed with her and the rest of us headed to start the celebration with a bit of Oak tree planting. Beanster did some obligatory tree climbing first!

We learned how to work out how old a tree was by wrapping our arms around it. A tree you can hug all the way round with your fingertips touching is about 75 years old. We worked out that the tree below was about 225 years old.

We collected our saplings and headed to an area with good sunlight to screef (removing vegetation) and then plant.

We planted 10 oak trees in total. They should grow to about 5 ft after 5 years. We will check on their progress often. 

Next we headed to a stall to build some wood sculptures.
Moo had woken up so she and Mama joined us by the Ka’aba to watch a fire juggler and eat pakora. We also had some soup made up largely of foraged food which was absolutely delicious. MP Martyn Day appeared to watch the fire juggler too. We also saw some HE friends.

Beanster went off to climb some trees and gave a group of boys who were damaging one of them a right ticking off before heading off to the Forestry Commission stall to report them. 

We finished by watching the fire juggler again before heading back for an ice cream. We are desperately hanging on to Summer!

Stacey and Lyall kindly donated us Lyall’s marble run from her childhood so when we got home the girls had fun building and playing with it.

And Moo helped cut the potatoes for tea.



Since last year Beanster has been asking to go to “ballet class”. I don’t know where she first got the idea but it’s hung around so we signed her up to start this year. After asking around for recommendations we chose Central Scotland Ballet School This is her second week and so far she’s really enjoying it. They do about 15 minutes of tap at the start then ballet. I’ve been watching these last 2 weeks as she’s asked me to wait outside rather than going through to the cafĂ© and she’s joining in and really seems to be having fun. We’ve said that if she still likes it next week we’ll order her the leotard and ballet shoes. They’re having a second hand sale next weekend so we’re going to see if we can get tap shoes there. She’s been letting me tie her hair up each week, (normally I’m not allowed to as she likes it “wild”). I’ve been experimenting. 

Before ballet we went along to another home ed craft group we’ve not been to in ages. The group used to meet in Bonnybridge but has now moved to Grangemouth. Beanster was pleased to see her friend M and also played with some other people she hasn’t played with before. Beanster did some craft whilst Moo ate lunch.  

After that they all needed a run around and there is a great park right next to the community centre. A couple of the kids took off their t-shirts so the girls did too despite it really not being that warm!

Moo had a nap on the way from home ed group to ballet and as we were early she got a bit more sleep whilst Beanster and I listened to some music and I did her hair. 

The rest of our Derbyshire holiday

We didn’t have good reception or the means for recharging phone batteries so it has taken me until we got back from holiday and I am settled back at work to get a chance to carry on blogging. Therefore the next couple of posts will try to catch us up to date.

The last couple of days in Derbyshire were spent visiting a tram museum and going in a cable car up the Heights of Abraham in Matlock. Both are well worth a visit if you have never been before.

The tram museum is set up like a small main street from days gone by when trams were one of the main forms of transport. There is a tramline along the main street which runs different trams from all over the world up and down it all day and if you purchase a ticket to ride you can go on them as often as you like. The girls loved doing this, sometimes upstairs on the double decker and sometimes on single deckers. It gave the girls a chance to learn about how public transport had changed over time.

The main street contained amongst others a printers, a sweet shop, an ice cream parlour and an old pub (now a cafe). There were a few other buildings which housed a gift shop and exhibitions. There were storage yards which you could walk freely into to look at all the trams that they still run and another exhibition area which had on display trams that are no longer able to be run. Mama was very excited to find a Corstorphine tram, which is one that ran in her home town of Edinburgh.


On one of our trips we got off at a stop to take a walk along the woodland trail. This was a great find. The trail was full of wooden sculptures, some of which were interactive and there were Art and Craft activities to take part in along the way. One of the activities was to write your own wish label and hang it on the wish tree. Beanster wrote her own label ‘I wish I could fly.’ I think i would quite like to be able to do that too.

The next day we headed to Heights of  Abraham to take a trip up the cable car. Neither girl had been on a cable car and both were a bit apprehensive to begin with but ended up loving it once they relaxed into it.


At the top Beanster enjoyed watching the Punch and Judy Show, Moo was not so sure about this so she went for a play in the park instead. We visited the small fossil and history exhibition and took this interesting photo…

After a bite to eat we went on a guided tour down the caverns, another first for both girls, to learn about the lead mining in the area. Moo coped really well with the darkness and stair climbing and Beanster enjoyed touching the ‘snot rock’ and counting all the stairs which we had to climb at the end to get out, 80 I think (although there were nearly 150 in total through the caverns). At the exit we were rewarded with a lovely view over Matlock and the surrounding area.
After descending into Matlock by cable car the girls found a park and some fairground shows before we had a chippy tea. One of the best (if not the best) fish and chips I have ever had.

Before heading back to the tent for our last Derbyshire night we just had to hit the amusement arcades. We didn’t leave with a fuller pocket than we went in with but the girls had an absolute blast.

Day 3-Bakewell and an abandoned Treasure Trail

One of the things Mama and I like to do are Treasure Trails which you can  get for towns and cities up and down the country. You follow a trail around a town which has a crime or mystery as it’s theme, you solve clues along the way and eliminate suspects from a list until you are left with one. The name you then enter online to be in with a chance of winning a prize. They really help you get to know a place and enable you to find little interesting, hidden away nooks and crannies that you might have missed otherwise.

We had one for Bakewell, so we headed there all eager to get our detective hats on…Well…we were eager, the girls less so! After about clue 3 we abandoned the trail and headed to a fab park instead. The equipment had all manner of climbing challenges on it and the toddler climbing frame had different heights, surfaces and ways to get up and down which meant that Moo had to really think about how to get herself across. It had a great water section with jets of water that were timed to go off at different times and in different directions. The girls had a brilliant time chasing and running through the water and it certainly helped to shake off the grumps.

In the park we also spotted a stone in the grass which had written on it ‘Keep or hide, post online beverly rocks’. We picked it up and on the other side was painted a ladybird. It turns out that a woman had set up a project where she painted and hid rocks which she wanted people to find to cheer them up. You either re hide the stone after posting where you found it on the beverly rocks Facebook page or you make your own and hide it. We are going to keep this one and make our own to hide when we get home.

Bakewell is a lovely place, if a tad busy, with the beautiful River Wye running through it  We found bridges with padlocks locked onto them which people had dedicated to the ones they love. The river was full of Trout and we enjoyed spotting as many as we could.



Back at the tent, the heavens opened so we did some craft, making monster and animal bookmarks.
We also got out some magazines and read and Beanster followed instructions to make a Lego skateboarder and baking set.