Tuesday, 23 July 2013

It never gets old

Mary Arden's Farm near Stratford is proving to be one of our favourite haunts this year. On Saturday we headed back for our fifth visit since Easter, drawn by the Crafty Beast event. Not that we really took part in any of the organised entertainment as M just wanted to explore (as always).

What I particularly like about the site is how something new seems to capture M's attention every time we visit. This time was no exception. While M wasn't interested in the arena (other than liking the bunting and wanting to try out the obstacle course intended for ducks) she did enjoy playing hook a duck while we chatted to the people from Transition Stratford. The ducks were there to illustrate a report about some plastic ducks that were part of cargo lost overboard in the Pacific and were then tracked around the world as they were carried by ocean tides. Apparently at least one duck made it as far as The Arctic!

M naturally said hello to the cows, one of whom was very appreciative of a bit of fuss from Dave attempting to engage in a spot of mutual grooming and thoroughly sliming him in the process. Naturally M found this very funny. We were also very taken with the ferrets which M had never seen before.

We rediscovered the two wells outside Mary Arden's House and M was particularly happy to see one of them still had a pail attached. M has been fascinated by the concept of wells and what they were used for since our last visit. There were two wells at Astley Castle which equally captured her interest and seeing the wells was something she'd been looking forward to. We looked at the pail, talked about the winch and its use, looked at the water and sang Jack and Jill before M pointed out the pail was big and would be heavy which was probably why Jack fell down, so perhaps he should ask a horse to help him. I just love the way M's mind works and is making links all the time.

Next Dave distracted M with a trip around the garden and feeding the goats while I talked to the Stratford Spinners and Weavers (more about this later).

We ate our picnic lunch in the playground and for the first time ever M didn't immediately head for the swings but was more interested in the small obstacle course. After lunch Dave and M watched some goat races but the goats got confused and ran back the other way, causing M to declare them not very good at racing.

Goat racing done, we went for a wander to check out the wild flower meadow but didn't get that far due to distractions. M discovered that thistles are prickly and apples grow on trees. We inspected some impressive cracks in the very dry ground and then we found a willow tunnel complex or bower which M loved. The tunnels were sized to allow easy passage for a small person but were a bit tight with low ceilings for those of more adult proportions. M found this very exciting and ran though the tunnels repeatedly, shrieking with glee and giggling the whole while.

M running amock in the bower
M running amock in the bower
M finds a gap to peer through
We eventually trapped the small person and carried her back to the car. Home we went and after a short nap we carried on with this...
Cardboard braiding disk with braid
This is a small braiding 'disk' made from cardboard which I was given by the Spinners and Weavers. It was one of many that they had prepared to demonstrate weaving or braiding cords. It is a fantastic idea as the cardboard grips the threads holding them firmly in place as you braid. This is based on a Japanese method of making braids called kumihimo but The Tudors would have been able to make similar braids using finger loop braiding.

The pattern is easy enough to follow. Make an eight sided disk, roughly octagon shaped and poke a hole in it using a pencil then cut a slot in each of the sides.
  1. Take seven pieces of yarn or thread of your choice and cut them so they are of approximate equal length. 
  2. Knot them together at one end then poke the knot through the hole in your disk.
  3. Arrange the threads through seven of the eight slots and tighten then up to tension the braid.
  4. Hold the disk with the empty slot nearest to you then count three threads to the right.
  5. Pick up the third thread and move it to the empty slot, tightening it as you do so to maintain tension.
  6. Rotate the disk to the left until the newly empty slot is in front of you.
  7. Repeat from 5
And that's it. Keep going and you will make a braid.

This has become a joint project with M. We count off the threads together and name the colour, then M picks up the chosen thread and moves it to its new slot. M has decided she likes the burgundy thread the best. This project is great for practising counting, talking about colours, patterns and working on those all important fine motor skills as well as lots of fun. We're both very impressed with the resulting braid which is working up quite quickly.

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