One Year On

Somehow, a whole year has already passed since we set up our monthly meet for older children. In that time we have been roller skating together, been swimming, watched a movie, volunteered at a local community garden, cooked over an open fire in the woods, worked on an allotment, cooked pizzas from scratch, carved pumpkins, rowed a boat on the canal and done our fair share of hanging about on public transport among other things.

We asked the children how they’d like to mark this anniversary and they requested to go back to the wonderful Glasgow Autonomous Space for another bout of food prep and cooking.

Some children made sushi and stir fry while others giggled and guffawed their way through a cake recipe, with the rest of us hoping the end result tasting would as good as the time they had making it.

We laid a table with masses of food, sat down to eat and to reflect on what we had enjoyed most over the last year. Plans were also hatched for the next few months of meets.

The cake didn’t disappoint

and we approached the big clean up job feeling almost too stuffed to move.



Love and Community

At Easter time one of the families that regularly attends the group had a baby. The birth was traumatic and the baby spent some days in intensive care. We were all desperate to show our support and sending meals for the rest of the family wasn’t enough so we set to creating a visual representation of a group hug via the medium of pavement chalk.

We occupied an area of tarmac in a local park, sketched out a massive circle and spread out some chalk. The baby’s name was writ large in the centre with her siblings and parents names close in around her’s. The remaining space within the circle was filled in with doodles, drawings and so many love hearts, while all around the outside of the circle were the names of all the chalkers.

It was touching to see everybody working together, finding ways of complimenting each other’s work to produce a beautiful whole.

It turned out to be a busy, fun day with a positive outcome. The family enjoyed seeing the photos of what we had made, felt loved and, most importantly of all, baby is now at home and doing so well!

The following week we had use of our fantastic, winter venue again for some dancing. A teenager in the group worked closely with one of the other adults, who is trained in dance, to deliver a most impressive workshop.

They choreographed some of the song “A Thousand Years” and also facilitated the group in devising dance sequences for other sections of the song. We used makaton signing during the chorus and other repeated phrases, inspired by the video of 50 mothers of children  with down syndrome had made for Down Syndrome Awareness Day this year. One of the mother-and-child-pairings in the video is part of our group so we took great pride in collectively acknowledging their contribution to the video.

Once again, the adults were all wowed by how considerate the children were towards each other throughout the creative process. There were many poignant moments between children and we all came away with a sense of euphoria from having worked together so closely on something that held such potent meaning for us as a community.

Baltic Street Adventure Playground

This week we braved the weather and headed out to Dalmarnock to visit Baltic Street Adventure Playground.


We had been wanting to go there as a group for some time but their opening hours during term time don’t suit us. We were delighted to be able to take advantage of their extended holiday hours and were determined not to be put off by rain, sleet or cold.


The playground was designed by Assemble, an award winning art/design/architecture collective and was set up after the 2012 Commonwealth Games. The playground is a democratic space with a big emphasis on loose parts play, risk taking and equality.

Almost immediately, on arrival, a group of children started building a slide using the materials they had to hand.

The mud greatly aided them in creating a slippery surface slide down but also meant they had to think carefully about making steps or foot-holds to get themselves back up again


There was a tree house in one of the taller trees with fabulous bridges leading up to it

Underneath the treehouse were three crash mats. Alan, the site manager has been keen to get the mats out as soon as we arrived which puzzled us slightly.


However, the children soon worked it out.

Almost all the children had a (or many) turns at throwing themselves out of the treehouse and onto the mats. It looked like great fun. Alan later told us that the children who live locally had made up the rule that there had to be three mats – two side-by-side and one on top of them, cover the join. Their reasoning was that when you jump onto two mats they come apart and your landing is not so soft. So the third mat on the join became mandatory as ordered by the children. We were told that most of the rules in the playground were put in place by children who use the space often, an idea that greatly resonated with us home educators.

The various, big rope swings were tested out and we found a smaller swing in one corner along with a small ‘cottage’ and a few other little dens.


Meanwhile some of the parents were sheltering from the rain in a small, indoor base which houses toilets, a kitchen and a store room. We were offered cups of tea and were told about the food that would be served up. It came as a welcome surprise to be served hot food on such a cold day. Baltic St Adventure Playground are part of the Fair Share scheme, an initiative which aims to tackle both food poverty and food waste. We talked for some time to a kindly man called Alistair who manages and cooks all the food at the playground. He receives deliveries of food rejected by supermarkets because of, for example, upside-down barcodes, over-ordering, mis-labelling, and cooks this food up into tasty and nutritious meals. He never knows what his ingredients will be so has to be creative to pull together dishes to please the players. Everyone is invited to eat for free regardless of income or need. This nourishes the children and adults alike, galvanises a sense of community and, more often than not, provides food for families that might otherwise had not had any. Alistair told us of families that were spared the stigma that can come with a foodbank referral because they had had a decent meal at the playground most days.

The food we were given was lentil soup, vegetable casserole, cheese toasties, plums and fruity yoghurt. We were delighted with this and got stuck in straight away despite our muddiness.

Not long after, Alan started a fire to help us all get warm. Children occasionally stopped by the fire to warm their hands before running back to their endeavours and the adult conversation turned to inclusion, diversity, the history of adventure playgrounds and other such interesting topics.


Nearby a group of adults and children with spades, shovels and pickaxes were digging the foundations for some new play structures that will be built over the next week or so.

After three hours of extremely wet and muddy play we started to make moves to leave. Alistair quickly pushed an Easter egg into the hands of each child, making their muddy faces light up with joyful astonishment. We squelched out of the gate with shouts of ‘thank you!’ and promised to go back again as soon as we could.


Comrie Croft 2018

It’s just over a year since we last visited Comrie Croft as group. So much has changed since then, both for us as a group and at the place itself.

We arrived on a Sunday evening and, after getting settled into our rooms

and eating a big meal together, most of the children and a few intrepid adults went out to explore the woods in the dusk. It was a beautiful evening, the sky ablaze with colour and we were pleased to wake the next day to find the old adage to be true about ‘red skies at night bringing shepherds delight’. There were a few home ed families staying with us from outwith Glasgow – people we had never met before – but the children quickly tumbled in with existing gangs of friends and conversation between adults was friendly and easy. It was so nice to make new friends on holiday.


Monday was mostly spent outdoors, making the most of the sunshine. We played circle games,

and busied ourselves with bushcraft and nature-themed activities.

Some children hired bikes to take on the mountain bike trails


while others took part in a session of ‘Chaos Yoga’ – a game devised by one of the children in group and facilitated, brilliantly, by his mum –

and a whole fantasy world formed around a gazebo aka “The Cowboy Hut”


Some adults went for a brisk walk up a nearby hill to the Devil’s Cauldron while others basked in the bright, spring sun watching a game of group volley ball.

In amongst all the organised activities, there was still plenty of time for free play and hanging about. The woodland rope swings were well used, many trips were made to the waterfall and woods and, of course, so much chatting and catching up

In preparing food for the evening on Monday, some of the smaller children were given the task of finding the biggest potatoes to bake. They emptied a 25kg sack of spuds onto the floor and worked collaboratively to hunt out the finest specimens. Numerous, brilliant games to get the remaining tatties back in the sack then ensued, involving rolling, throwing, carrying dustpans, spoons, tongs, you name it. The ingenuity and hilarity found with those potatoes was one of the highlights of the holiday for me.


The evening was largely spent around the fire, baking potatoes and dampers, toasting marshmallows and exchanging tales of fun and adventure. We befriended the family staying the in farmhouse on site so they, too, joined us round the fire, adding to the collection of marshmallows and stories.


The weather on Tuesday was a little wetter and greyer but most people still managed a jaunt outdoors. A craft table was set up in the kitchen for those that wanted to stay in

but many of the children spent a good chunk of the afternoon preparing for the Kids’ Kitchen event that was due to take place that evening.


Each family had contributed some vegetables for the paella and fruit for the crumble so we split into small groups to get them all peeled, chopped and ready to cook.

Once the food was cooking, everyone busily set to making menus, table decorations and umbrellas for the mocktails.

By the time the food was ready, the ‘customers’ (all the adults and any children who hadn’t wanted to cook) had already started arriving so the pressure was on to get everyone seated, orders taken and food served. The pace and level of activity was so intense I wasn’t able to get any photos of the meal itself but the children working at the Kids’ Kitchen did an excellent job of facilitating for and feeding the whole group. They organised themselves so that those who could read and write took down the food and drink orders while the pre-literate took the food to the tables, ensuring everyone felt useful and appreciated. High praise came from the diners and Kids’ Kitchen crew congratulated themselves with a round of mocktails and much clinking of glasses. They were excused from doing dishes after all their hard work and went instead to watch a movie together while adults and children who hadn’t cooked cleared up.


Wednesday was our final day so everyone felt it important to visit all our special and favourite places to say goodbye. There was an emotional farewell trip to see the Shetland ponies in the field behind the hostel as well as one last walk to the waterfall and one final turn on the rope-swing.

We were sad to leave and have our holiday end but so happy that we had had such a great time together.



It was an exhausting but wonderful few days


and I, for one, am already looking forward to our next trip away.





We have had the very great pleasure of doing a good bit of dancing as a group over the last few months. Our first dance party happened in early January in our fantastic, weekly, winter venue. The excitement was palpable in the time running up to it. We made our plans and dusted off our dancing shoes.


One of the parents in the group has experience of community dance work so she led a high-energy warm-up to get people moving (please excuse the blurry photos!).

Another of the parents in the group is a professional wedding singer and so rigged up some spectacular lights, giving the hall a real disco feel.

Friends danced together, siblings swung each other round, parents danced with children and a fabulous time was had by all.

All manner of treats were held in the kitchen to fuel the dancing and the usual soft play equipment was put to good use too.

We all left feeling euphoric and keen to create another dancing opportunity for the group. Fast forward a couple of months and we were hosting a ceilidh. While the style of music and aesthetic was very different, it was just as much fun. We booked a hall in a city centre community centre and found a couple of excellent musicians to play at it. People arrived in dribs and drabs. Some played Duck, Duck, Goose while the band did their soundcheck


and others set up a cake stall and a mocktails bar, sold to raise money for an upcoming youth hostel trip.

As well as advertising the event in the home ed community, we extended the invitation to our non-home ed friends. It was lovely and quite empowering to host an event for the wider community as a group. I only discovered afterwards that it had been their first ceilidh for a few of the families there.

We managed many dances

but the most popular by far was the Orcadian Strip The Willow.

We ended with Auld Lang Syne and a determination to find another time to dance together soon.



A great community centre

We had a great home ed meet last week; the sort that is inspired, organised and well executed. The success was due to a number of things, but I think the most effective of them was the space. We have struggled over the last few winters to find indoor spaces that are conducive to a good home ed meet and managers of spaces who are willing to welcome such an alternative group of misfits. However, I think we have done it this time.

We had so much we wanted to accomplish, that we decided to set up stations that the children could move around between. I ran a stencil and print making station, and was so impressed with the work the children put in and the prints they made. There was a lot of impressive use of new tools which lead to lots of beautiful images and a bold use of colour. My baby slept happily in another mother’s tireless arms. At another station children worked together to create a card for a family who have just welcomed a new baby. There was the usual soft play and Lego in the middle and tea in the kitchen. We celebrated a birthday with a big cake and were visited by an inventive art school student who gamefully joined in with the work and play.

Next week we intend to use our stencil designs to come up with a logo for our group which can be used in shirts and badges. Here’s to many more good meets!

Third Time (Very) Lucky

The wintery weather is here now so, for the last few weeks, we’ve been intending to meet indoors. However, something keeps coming up. The first week we tried there was some miscommunication between us and the people who hire out the venue. But the rain stayed away so we just set up all our indoor activities outdoors.

There was Lego and magnets to play with, knitting and catching up to be done and even a birthday celebrated with plenty of cake.

Some children attempted a cooperative challenge while others simply ran around to keep warm.

‘Next week’, we said, ‘we shall meet indoors”. But it wasn’t to be. The following week we found out that the BBC needed to finish off some filming in the space so we couldn’t use it. Undeterred by the last minute change of plan, we visited one of our favourite places, The Children’s Wood, to plant some trees they had been gifted by The National Trust. The children planted four rowan trees and three cherries trees before the urge to play overtook them and they disappeared into the tree house, mud kitchen and beyond.

By the third week, many of us were half expecting to be locked out of the hall again but this time we did get in and it was really worth the wait. Our winter hang out for this year has a big kitchen where we can cook together,


soft play equipment that, the little ones in particular, enjoyed tumbling over

a stage that we are hoping to use for performance and dance activities


and plenty of space to run around. The usual boxes of tricks came out to entertain – craft, Lego, stories,

but we also made time to work together to draw up a group agreement about how we want to behave towards each other

and how we want to use the venue. We came to a happy agreement about how best to use the pool table and computers in the space so that we could prioritise enjoying each other’s company and many interesting and exciting ideas were floated for future activities.

There was also more knitting and chatting and a general feeling of thankfulness at having found such a welcoming and versatile space to spend the next few months.