Wee Row Hostel

Earlier this week we went to stay at the youth hostel in New Lanark. There were around 45 of us and we had free run of the whole hostel. We enjoyed cooking and eating together, sharing dorms and many fun activities.

On our first night there was a light show at the New Lanark Mill. Huge photographs of the mill and its workers were projected on the side of the mill, some with an accompanying soundtrack telling of how life was when the mill was a working factory. The lights were very atmospheric and it was exciting to run around in the dark with such a large group of friends.

The next day we ventured out to explore. The younger children made good use of the fantastic play park on site while some of the older children played cooperative games and followed the river in search of the Falls of Clyde.

As we rounded a corner we were hit by a sonic blast from the waterfall. It grew more and more impressive as trekked higher and higher up the hill, singing silly songs and making up stories as we walked. The gorgeous, autumnal hues and gentle sunlight gave the whole journey a dreamlike quality.


Later on we had a relaxing afternoon indoors complete with craft,

a movement workshop and an ingenious game devised by one of families in the group called Chaos Yoga which involved some yoga asana, improvised music, team challenges and more.

Our meal that evening came courtesy of ‘The Kids’ Kitchen’, a pop-up restaurant thought up and staffed by the children of the group. They worked together to prepare a delicious three course meal. We had ‘LemonTom coconut’ soup to start, stir fry with rice for the main course and a choice of peach, berry or apple crumble for dessert. A true feast!

The children drew up menus, waited on the tables

and then cleared everything away afterwards. There was some live music to accompany the meal and, afterwards, much deserved drinks of ‘elderapple posh juice’. It was a joy to see all ages working together with such competence and kindness. The food was excellent too.

On our second morning at the hostel we took part in an all singing, all dancing scavenger hunt created by another of the families in the group. We broke into three, mixed age teams and each followed our own trail around the whole of the New Lanark World Heritage Site. The trails took in the  New Lanark Mill visitors’ centre, replicas of a mill worker’s cottage from 1820 and 1930, the Fall of Clyde visitors’ centre, a waterwheel and the on-site hotel which was once part of the mill. It was such an interesting and memorable way to engage with all the information there. We also had to complete a number of challenges along the way involving the apple tree in Robert Owen’s garden, bouncing balloons, plastic frogs pinging onto ‘lily pads’ and a game of Shut The Box presented to us on a throne in a willow palace.

Afterwards we wandered back to the hostel for a well-earned rest. The children took this as an opportunity to watch a bit of telly while the adults drank many cups of tea and chatted, with tiny ones crawling around under our feet and being passed from lap to lap. Some enjoyed a few stories

and decorated fairy cakes. Food was plentiful on the trip and enjoyed often.

We all recharged our batteries in preparation for the afternoon’s adventure – a two hour walk down the river, away from the waterfall and towards the little, old market town of Lanark. Once again, the journey was peppered with games, stories and silly songs. When little feet got tired they were given piggy-backs by older friends. We were all exhausted by the time we got back to the hostel and grateful for a hearty meal. The evening slipped away with games and chatting and soon all the children were asleep. Adults had sole occupancy of the kitchen and spent a good few hours getting to know each other that bit better, putting the world to rights and sharing even more food, drinks and laughs. All too soon the morning rolled around and it was time to clean the hostel and go home. A frantic couple of hours of bag packing, bed stripping and floor sweeping passed quickly till we said goodbye. Before we parted we took time to share our favourite moments of the trip with each other – brilliant activities, deepening of friendships, getting to know new people or seeing old friends in new ways, sharing familial tasks such as cooking and cleaning and the beautiful surroundings were all discussed with fondness. A wonderful few days with a wonderful bunch of people.



‘Everyone’s Dyeing Here’

When I arrived at home ed group on Wednesday, a 10 year old boy ran up to me shouting, ‘Everyone’s dyeing here!’ Though I knew we had a natural dyeing workshop scheduled, this statement caught me off guard. However, when I looked towards the fire, full of bubbling cauldrons, I knew we were in for a rewarding afternoon.

We were working with Liz (from Heartfelt by Liz at Dalmally Train Station http://heartfeltbyliz.com/), who we had worked with a couple of years before when she lead a felting workshop through The Children’s Wood at the North Kelvin Meadows (https://www.thechildrenswood.co.uk/). Many of us still have brightly coloured felted landscapes decorating our walls.

This session was much more scientific.

We learnt about mordants, chemical reactions, naturally occurring pigments found in lesser known Scottish plants, and stained the palms of our hands with iron and tannin.

The smaller children made beautiful rubbings over intricate wooden stamps with wildflowers while we waited for our tightly wrapped bundles to boil away in their pans of dye.

We were all proud of the finished products.

Thank you Liz and The Children’s Wood.

Clay, Comics and Catching Up

This week’s meet was a laid-back affair. The summer jaunts of all our various families have now come to an end so there was much catching up to do. Adults chatted animatedly while children busied themselves with creative endeavours. A tub full of clay became many little creatures

some of which then went on to star in puppet shows while others hid themselves on trees.

Another bunch of children sat around a table and discussed a new comic, helped each other develop their drawing styles and were later joined by a couple of toddlers who were keen to mimic their older companions. img_9202.jpg

Such pleasant hours whisked by too quickly and we were sad to say goodbye when it was time to leave.

Apples and Brambles

Over the last couple of weeks we have visited Rouken Glen Park and Linn Park, both of which are beautiful parks on the Southside of Glasgow with great scope for adventure and creative play.

Although the meets were quite different – at one we were a large group comprising of half and half new faces and regulars and at the other we were an intimate gathering of old friends – there were a number of elements the two days had in common.

The weather has become distinctly autumnal of late but the sky keeps hinting at the possibility of an Indian summer yet. Both meets have seen us enjoying picnics, celebrating a birthday, chalking with new friends in bright sunshine

only to have the sky erupt suddenly leaving us to face heavy downpours in short sleeves, scurrying to find jackets and umbrellas. One time we even felt hailstones!

Undeterred by angry outbursts from the clouds we have sheltered under trees to build dens, climb high and leap over homemade pony jumps.

Aquatic birds have featured heavily in our musings too.

We watched adolescent cygnets trying to take flight, almost running on the surface of the water and enjoyed seeing how moorhens fed their young.

We cheered on a triplet of ducks swimming against the flow of the river. Their challenging journey brought to mind our own home ed journeys in how hard it can be at times to go against the flow yet how rewarding for all when you persevere.


Autumnal abundance gifted us with apples at one park and brambles at the next.

My family have opted to make crumbles though I’m sure some will make it to the status of jam. Conkers, beech nuts and other seasonal treasures now adorn our home. It’s a favourite time of year.


If you home educate in the Glasgow area, or are thinking about it, and would like to join us in our adventuring please get in touch. You can contact us through the blog or via email. My email address is sapnaagarwal@hotmail.co.uk

Late Summer Larking About

My family has been out of town for a while and we’ve been missing seeing all our home ed friends. It was lovely to re-connect with them today.

We celebrated a birthday with an impressive and delicious cake, foraged for brambles


and drank tea made in the numerous Kelly Kettles that were around.

Some children found a strange model of an owl which was incorporated into many games

and was the inspiration for some of the animals they later made out of clay.

An industrious time was had by all with some contributing to the local community gardening session, others adding suggestions to the box of ideas for group activities and some good, old puddle play, courtesy of a quick but heavy downpour.




We have started a new, monthly group for children aged 8 years and up. We met for the first time a couple of months ago and the children came up with a programme for their meets. This month, as requested, we got together to make pizzas. To begin with we discussed our favourite pizzas and planned a menu

and then set to mixing dough and making sauce.

We hired the kitchen at the wonderful Glasgow Autonomous Space. They were hosting the Unity Centre‘s World Cafe and food bank while we were there so we had the great pleasure and privilege of listening to live music while we kneaded our dough and chopped our veggies. I’m sure dancing round the mixing bowls enhanced the flavour of the food.



Once the pizza were all cooked, the children set up a long table so we could all eat together. The food was delicious and the meal was finished off with a surprise birthday cake and lashings of ice cream.


If you home educate and would like to join any of the meets please get in touch with me at sapnaagarwal@hotmail.co.uk.

Skating Crazy

Recently I took a group of home ed children to the indoor rollerskating rink. Most of them started off being quite wobbly but soon got the hang of it and were whizzing round having a whale of a time.

Some of the children even managed to do some fancy, one-legged tricks.


For the next week or so, roller skates became the footwear of choice for many of the children….picnicking in skates…


….drawing with friends in skates…


…even climbing up the play park equipment in skates.