Chilling Out and Staying Warm

Last week the weather was rather cruel but a surprising number of families braved the icy rain and sought sanctuary in the toastie hall and each others’ company. It was a very relaxed afternoon.

There were stories

and drawing,


board games

and sewing.

Many of us came home with adorable sock bunnies and fewer odd socks.



Cardboard Creations

We have been talking about having a cardboard day for many years but somehow we were not able to make it happen. A couple of weeks ago, however, the heavenly bodies aligned, the cardboard came flowing in and we had an epic time cutting, sticking and constructing with cardboard.

Children and adults alike were completely absorbed in the task of creating macro, micro and monster environments, objects and costumes.

There were animals and a clubhouse,

a tiny block of flats and a nativity stable with added door height to make space for St Nicholas’s hat.

Careful sculpting, trial and error produced wonderful results.

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It was all well worth the wait.

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Halloween 2018

This year’s Halloween festivities were like none we’ve ever put on before. We hired the venue and put a shout out to people to bring something to the event to scare, delight or entertain. What resulted was an impressive array of activities. The hall was arranged in the style of a fair with ‘stalls’ offering crafts and games. With over 50 people in attendance it was fun but busy afternoon so opportunity to take photos were not so forthcoming.

We had handprint spiders,


apple bobbing,


a fairly typical and lovely home ed scene of a child doing an activity with a back drop of teenagers chatting whilst cradling a newborn baby.

blood juice (apples, carrot and beetroot) and green slime (apples and spinach) dished up from cauldrons with syringes and drunk from test tubes,

orange and black paper chains, tin foil spiders, yarn and stick spiders webs,

biscuits and fairy cakes to decorate,


Pin The Smile On The Jack-O-Lantern


and a tin can alley.


I was unable to get photos of the “spooky room”, a dark space with shadow puppets and boxes of gruesome things to feel such a eyeballs, fingers and worms. A witch guarded this room throughout offering puzzles and quandaries to whoever dared to enter.

The piñata was popular with children of all ages lining up to whack the spider

and a veritable pile up of children scrabbling about for sweets once the piñata had been destroyed.


More sweet treats came with the donut game

after which we had to quickly tidy up and vacate the hall for the next group coming in to use it. Some of the younger children became engross in storytelling in the yard while some older children and adults cleared away the cobwebs, sprinkles and sweet wrappers


before heading off to North Kelvin Meadow for a fire and a play in the woods.

A Fruitful Time

This summer was a season of adventurous day trips. We did, however, have a couple of meets where we whiled away the time in local green spaces, pottering about and lazily dreaming in the hot, hot sun.

We spent one of these days at the Gorbals Rose Garden, a large walled garden with a community orchard. Some dolls found a new house to live in and the limber limboed under the bunting.

We gorged ourselves on berries – redcurrant, blackcurrants, gooseberries, cloudberries, raspberries – consumed so quickly that only the tiniest handful made it into containers to bring home.


Some children picked apples and plums but they were far from ripe so we made mental notes to come back again in September to see if we could get enough fruit for a crumble or two.

Fast forward two months and the trees were bent double under the weight of the apples and damsons – all sweet and juicy too. We returned on another sunny day and quickly populated the trees with children of all ages, filling bags, buckets and boxes with fresh fruit.


None of us had expected to come away with so much food

though we left plenty on the trees for others and the birds. An obligatory sunny picnic followed the fruit picking with all sharing ideas for pies, crumbles and puddings.


Over the next weeks, in our separate families and sometimes together we made umpteen apple crumbles,

plum crumbles and clafoutis,

Eve’s pudding, spiced plum cake and preserve.


Not Back To School Sports Day 2018

A few years ago, my family attended a Not Back To School Sports Day. It was a memorable day and, after a small nudge from an online comment on a home ed Facebook group, we decided we should host one of our own.


At the older children’s meet the previous week, the young people had worked together to compile an impressive list of fun and inclusive races for the sports day. The event itself began with a circle for people to tell each other their names and for some stretches and warm up exercises, led mostly by children.


Then the races began. The first was the Home Ed Triathlon, a cooperative take on the usual format. Teams of three took part, with each member of the teams taking on a different element of the race in relay. The swimmers had to don goggles, life jackets and swimming hats before ‘swimming’ across the tarpaulin pool where they tagged their team member who zoomed along on a balance bike to the final team member who ran back to the start line carrying a cup of water.


This proved to be a popular race and was repeated with different combinations of children around a dozen times. Next came the track events, which were also repeated several times – the egg and spoon race,


the sack race using coffee sacks kindly donated by one of the families attending, the wheelbarrow race and the three-legged race.


Another team event followed – the cooperative water challenge. There were two teams each with a bucket of water at one end of the course and an empty bucket opposite. Each team had a number of holey vessels and lengths of guttering to transport their water from the full to the empty bucket. Much hilarity ensued along with deliberate spilling of water to cool the red-faced competitors.

Half time oranges felt essential by this point and adults drank tea and coffee, which had been provided by a particularly organised parent.

There were over 50 people at the sports day, many of whom were entirely new to home education and/or Glasgow so the break in proceedings allowed time for people to get to know each other, exchange stories and catch up with old friends.


Refreshed and eager for one last activity, children patiently queued to have their turn on the obstacle course.

Once everyone had tired of the sports, races and games on offer, we started the big clear up operation. Even the little ones helped to gather up all the equipment.


Tired but happy, people began to say goodbye and leave the park. Some went into the city centre, some went home and others drifted off to a nearby play park for a different kind of play.

All in all, we all felt the day had been a great success. My personal highlight had been how the children had entered into the races with such a wonderful sense of lightness and generosity. They were great sportspeople, every one of them.


On returning home, one of the children wrote a newspaper article about their day. Here it is, our first review for our first Not Back To School Sports Day.

Home ED News Glasgow NO.1

Rail and Sail


This summer we have been trying to take advantage of both our Family and Friends Railcards and the good weather by striking out to adventure further afield than usual. We discovered we could buy ‘rail and sail’ tickets thus making considerable savings on ferry journeys as well as on the train. On one of the hottest days of the year, we packed up our buckets and spades and set off for Milport on the island of Cumbrae. We were a large party, totalling ten adults and over 20 children.


The train was as packed as it could be so we were scattered throughout the carriage. Some of the older passengers were vocal in their disapproval of children taking up seats while adults were standing so some of our children opted to sit on the floor, singing and laughing and tumbling over each other all the way to Largs.


The ferry journey was brief but so exciting


with loud cheers of “land ahoy!” as we reached the island. We then squashed onto a bus for the final leg of our outward journey to Milport with more raucous singing and daft jokes to while away the time. Once in Milport, we piled off the bus thinking it might be nice to walk a little before setting down our bags but the children were so keen to get into the water that we ended up laying down picnic rugs right next to the bus stop.


Then followed hours of carefree play in the sea and sand – the water water warm enough to comfortably swim in for extended periods and the beach full of interest.



I exclaimed, more than once, at the sheer beauty of our surroundings and was never met with any disagreement. The time passed too quickly and all too soon we had to pack up to go home. Ice creams were consumed and a final farewell said to ‘the best beach day ever’.


On reaching the mainland we were met with public transport mayhem. We were told the trains had all been cancelled, and then that perhaps they hadn’t. We hastily purchased many portions of chips and plopped ourselves onto a cool train in the hope of going somewhere in the general direction of home. The adults were starting to get fractious but the children took it all in their stride. When we were unexpectedly dropped off in Paisley instead of Glasgow, they took to the balmy streets as though on a Mediterranean holiday – playing football in the town square and mimicking statues, mannequins and each other.


We got home many hours later than expected but, on reflection, it still stands out as the best meet we’ve ever had.

Fast forward a month and the weather had cooled a little. This time we were a smaller group and our island of choice was Arran. The customary singing on the train kept the children entertained and our rail and sail tickets meant we could hop directly off the train and onto the ferry.


It was a longer ferry ride and a bigger vessel than the one to Cumbrae so the scope for fun on the journey also grew exponentially. The older children darted about playing games and exploring, though the wind was so strong they had to hide from it and take shelter at times.


Once in Brodick, we slowly picked our way around the coastline, stopping to look at whatever caught our eyes –


shells, stones, shipwrecks, crabs…


The path took us through a golf course and over marsh land


till we got a beach whereupon more treasure was sought out and arranged, stones skimmed and some brave characters paddled in the icy water.


Clusters of children happily pottered about for hours and occasionally we would end up in a large group discussion about matters as broad as whether AI robots should have the same rights and responsibilities as humans and the merits of thin biscuits over conventional ones.


Once again, the time passed too quickly and before we knew it we were racing back to the harbour, our ferry in sight, all digits crossed we would get to it in time.

On the way back to the mainland, some children set up an illicit stall selling decorated stones. Their lack of custom saved them from getting into hot water with the staff on board.


We all lamented the brevity of our time on Arran


so plans are afoot to book out the youth hostel for a few nights in the spring so we can more properly explore the island.

One of the families in the group have since returned to Arran to take visiting family and impressively document the impressive surrounds.


Back at my family home, shells are everywhere.


They have been studied and catalogued and some made into a mobile to gift a friend.


The summer feels like it is drawing to a close but we’re realised we can take on more adventurous journeys as a group and still thoroughly enjoy them. It’s exciting to be heading towards a new season with an emboldened sense of what we can achieve.

Dumbarton Rock

A few weeks ago, as the heatwave was reaching it’s peak, I took a group of older home ed children to climb Dumbarton Rock, one of the few peaks within reach by public transport. Our journey there was filled the usual hilarity and nonsense.

The children humoured me in posing for an album cover style photo for the start of our ascent


then some attempted to climb the rock in a slightly unorthodox fashion.


We soon found the stairs but, after just a short while, we were all exhausted. The heat of the day was intense and the steps plentiful so we paused in the shade for a snack and to catch our breath.

The majority voted to eat our packed lunches at the summit so, once rested, we galloped up the remaining stairs to admire the view and, most importantly, to fire into our food.



Our decent was more leisurely. We allowed ourselves time to pause and wonder,

play and explore.

The staff at Dumbarton Castle kindly gave us each an educational pack on our way out, including a certificate for climbing all 500 steps – congratulations we all felt we heartily deserved. It also outlined the history of the castle and surrounding area – something we had hitherto neglected to read about in our hurry to get to the top of White Tower Crag by lunchtime.

From the top of the rock, we had spotted a sandy cove at the coast and were eager to dip our hot feet in the water. We had a little time to kill before catching our train so made a beeline for it. One of my children came home with a collection of crabs to study and draw.

Our time in Dumbarton ended with cooling ice lollies,


the usual hanging about on the subway


and indulging me one last time with a posed, group photo.



A wonderful day with a gregarious gang.