Thursday, 26 July 2012

Summer at the Musuems - birds at the zoology

The museums always fill the summer holidays with lots and lots of mostly free events - some pre-bookable, others drop in and they always great (

Today we dropped in to the one held at the zoology museum and had a pleasant hour making different birds. P and E made a bird hat and G made an albatross picture. All the resources were there and the kids just got on with just a little help (mainly finding glue and sellotape).It was perfect for the girls and they had a fab time.

Then we looked at the birds on display and noticed a quiz about insects which we decided to do which involved running round the museum answering questions. Today I have learnt an ant lion which appears in the Moomin books is actually a real insect and that Darking beetles who live in the Namib desert have evolved modifications to enable them collect water from sea mist that condenses on their body.The quiz was probably more suitable for older than G (7) as quite a lot of the information I had to help her understand and find the answers.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Punting and Hairy Maclary

Today I took E to the junction (, which always has great children's shows, to see Hairy Maclary. It follows several stories from the well known books well and had all the children in the audience joining in with the well known "Schnitzel von Krumm with a very low tum, Bitzer Maloney all skinny and bony, Muffin McClay like a bundle of hay, Bottomley Potts covered in spots,
Hercules Morse as big as a horse and Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy." The stories were well told using songs and actors dressed up as the dogs with 2 main human characters to link the stories together. And did E like it - Yes she did!

Then we met up with the others for a picnic by the mill pond and then went off for a spot of punting. The first sunny day of the summer and the river was busy. It is always fun watching those that can't punt fall in or lose their pole (although I can't either) although we did have several bumps.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Walk round Cambridge 2

 Today we did the second walkcam2012 route - the yellow one which takes3.3 miles (or if you start at our house 7.8 miles). I had visions of enthralling the girls with my knowledge of all the sights we would pass (as I had the booklet with all the info in: but they went on scooters and generally were so far ahead of me I couldn't talk to them. Some of the streets were narrow so care was needed so ensure everyone was safe!The walk had some lovely parts. I don't think I have ever seen the UL close up.
And I love the view from the Garret Hostel Lane bridge which is the only public bridge in this area and is the main thoroughfare for pedestrians and cyclists between the west side and the centre of Cambridge. It is really is steep however, supposedly to slow down cyclists. I love the view over Claire gardens and the river.
 I had never noticed these gargoyles on top of Caius before now!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

new family members

Today I went on a course about keeping chickens ( and came away with 3 Pekin hens. The course was excellent and most importantly covered how to hold your hen and how to clip it's wings! Ben, the guy who ran it, was very friendly and full of useful advice - don't bother with that, do bother with this and as well as chickens sells all manor of useful chicken keeping equipment. It was about an hour from Cambridge but was the only place I could find with point of lay pekins. I already had a lovely run from these people: and had read loads of books and dreamt about them for a few years.

They are so funny with all their little noises and so friendly. They don't (seem to) mind being picked up and have enjoyed destroying the grass in their run.

I am just looking forward to the "joys" of chicken keeping - red mite and rats!!!!!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Walk Cambridge 2012

There are 6 walks that have been created to celebrate the Olympic games this year. If you do all 6 you will have walked a marathon! This sounded like a good challenge to me especially as I am keen to show the girls as much of the local area as possible! The rest of the walks can be found here (and this is where the map is from too!):
Today, with the loan of a friend's dog, we set off to do the green route which if you start and end at the station takes 4.4 miles (we started and finished from our house and it took us 8 miles :) ).  It is small child on scooter, pushchair and dog friendly walk.

It took in some lovely sights, from the old workhouse which then became the maternity hospital where my husband was born and is now houses....

to Parker's Piece ....

One my favourite parts of the walk takes in Laundress Green amd the mill pondwhich is where college washerwomen used to use the green for washing and drying. It is a small island. You get to it crossing the sluice at the end of Mill Lane where punt tours can also be taken.

Thursday, 12 July 2012


Today Miss I and I made Macaroons (using a recipe adapted from the bbc website). These aren't something I had ever made before but I was keen to have a go. The girls didn't actually like them - but I did and would defiantly have another go!


  • 125g icing sugar
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 90g egg whites (which turned out to be about 4 eggs)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 110g caster sugar
  • colouring paste
  • desiccated coconut


  1. Preheat the oven to 1700c and line a baking tray.
  2. Mix the icing sugar, ground almonds and 40g of the egg whites in a large bowl to make a paste.
  3. Put the water and caster sugar in a small pan and heat gently to melt the sugar, then turn up the heat and boil until the mixture starts to go syrupy.
  4. Whisk the remaining 50g egg whites in a small bowl until medium-stiff peaks form and then pour in the sugar syrup, whisking until the mixture becomes stiff and shiny.

  5. Add the almond paste and mix again until it becomes shiny.  Then divide the mixture in to 3 parts and colour on blue, one red and one green. 

    Spoon into the piping bag and pipe 4cm circles (yes mine are far too big!) onto the lined tray, about 2cm apart. Then give the tray 2–3 slams on a flat surface to flatten them. Sprinkle with desiccated coconut.
  6. Leave to stand for 30 minutes to form a skin then bake in the oven for 12–15 minutes with the door slightly ajar until firm. Remove from the oven, lift the paper off the baking tray and leave the macaroons to cool on the paper.

    You can then sandwich them together with whipped cream - although we just ate them as biscuits. Next time I am going to investigate different fillings!

    Also what I found out: Mine needed more like 20 minutes in the oven. I made my circles far too big!!!! They were really really yummy!!!!

Views over Cambridge

The girls are enjoying looking outwards and using other blogs to find out about places round the world but following on from hosting our photowalk round Cambridge I though the girls ought to find out more about their city! To start them off today we climbed the Tower of Great St. Mary's ( which is described as having the best view in Cambridge. 123 stairs later it certainly was impressive! The girls enjoyed pointing out places they knew and wondering what other places could be. We could see King's, the University library, the river, the Lion Yard car park - I could go on! It was cheap to climb as well which is good and you get 10% in their lovely cafe down the road (the Michaelhouse cafe in Trinity street) which is well worth a visit independently.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Welcome to Cambridge - photowalk

Welcome to Cambridge. It is probably raining - so I'd put on your waterproofs and wellies. The weather is quite unusual at the minute as Cambridge is normally one of the driest cities in the UK. Cambridge is in the east of England, about an hour by train from London and is most famous for its university. It is one of the most expensive places to live in England and one of the flattest (no idea if the two are related :) )

Here is a typical street near where I live which is on the outskirts. These are 60s built houses - not pretty but functional. There are lots of families in the area. More typically in the centre are Victorian terrace houses with very small gardens.

Here is a local shop - well a corporate giant local shop but it is near our house and we go here both to do weekly shops and to pop in to replenish bread and milk. There is a shortage of good local amenities near us - we do use a local cake decorating shop to buy icing gels and I like a rather expensive Italian deli! Both Sainsburys and Tescos have opened "corner shops" fairly near us too much to local people's outrage - but people must be using them as they seem to be always busy.

Bikes are the best way to get around - it is flat with lots of cycle lanes. We can hire them from near here (the station) You must lock up your bike though (or it will get stolen) and I would recommend wearing a cycle hat (and trying to cycle on the correct side of the road helps). Cambridge is not so good for cars - narrow streets limit parking and cause congestion. There are also buses and a controversial guided bus. Right hop on your bike and lets cycle in to the centre of Cambridge.
The best way to see the tourist sights of Cambridge is to go by punt.  There are several different companies offering trips and their touts regularly seem to get in the local paper for fighting with each other for business! However we will hire one ourselves (don't worry I have bought lots of beer  - it is mandatory to drink and punt :) )

Here is another typical Cambridge "mode of transport". Many many students row on the Cam. I met my husband through rowing - so it has a special place in my heart!
Standard red British post box - apparently there are actually several different types of red Pillar box type and this is a Penfold Hexagonal postbox. This was the standard design for UK Post Office boxes between 1866–1879. I like its shape! It is outside King's college.

Here is a very plain and boring manhole cover! It was raining and I forgot to take it in portrait - sorry!


Whilst I was out and about preparing for this walk the Olympic torch came to Cambridge.  Did you know the torch has 3 sides to represent this being the 3rd time the games have come to London and the 3 words of the Olympic motto ( Citius, Altius, Fortius  or for those of us who don't speak Latin Swifter, Higher, Stronger). It also has 8000 holes for each of the people carrying it. This lady carried it for 300m before passing it on to the next person. 

In the middle of Cambridge is this piece of public art.  It is a mechanically controlled clock owned by Corpus Christi college. The face is a gold-plated  disc, about 1.5 meters in  diameter. There are no hands or numbers, but time is told by blue back-lit slits in the clock face. At the top is a locust which moves its mouth, appearing to eat time itself.

No tour to Cambridge would be complete without looking around the colleges. This is, I think, the most iconic view in Cambridge - King's College from the backs. King's was founded in 1441 by King Henry VIth. The chapel was built over a period of a hundred years (1446–1531) and is actively used as a place of worship and also for some concerts and college events.  Just remember not to walk on the grass!

For the children, here is a park. It is a good cycle ride away from our house but we like it because it has things for a variety of ages to do. There is also a paddling pool open in the summer (with an ice-cream kiosk). It is well used and maintained.  

We will just cycle a little further along the river Cam to a village called Grantchester which is said to have the world's highest concentration of Nobel Prize winners! Before you go home you must partake in an English tradition of afternoon tea here at the Orchard which is a teashop where the poet Rupert Brooke lived and wrote The Old Vicarage, Grantchester: the final lines immortalising afternoon tea in the Orchard: Stands the church clock at ten-to-three And is there honey still for tea?

Thus when you have finished tea and returned your bike to the hire shop our tour around Cambridge is over. I hope you are have enjoyed yourselves!