Adventures in Turkey

We went on a big trip on our last day in Turkey – all of us together. And it was fantastic!

First we took a boat out to some volcanic mud baths…


Yes. The ludicrousness of it all is that we covered ourselves in 800 year old volcanic mud, which supposedly would make us 10 years younger. That makes Ted now -5, and Maya just 2. πŸ˜‚ Leon was happy to stand in it up to his knees, but that’s all – “far from fresh” was his explanation! 😝Alfie wouldn’t go near the place! 😳😱

Afterwards we washed it off with cold water, before entering the thermal pools…


Remarkably, our skin did feel a lot softer afterwards!

Then we took the boat through a bird and turtle nature reserve, where Alfie was extremely happy to have got to drive the boat! πŸ˜„


On the way we saw rock tombs – incredibly impressive ‘temples’ where the dead were buried (these being wealthy people, and the bigger one being for a King) dating back to 2400Bc. Being made of limestone, these temples have survived, even surviving earthquakes!


After lunch, we drove to a beach where there was a WWF turtle sanctuary. We learnt how they rescued turtles who had been hurt by propellers or caught in fishing nets, and would then be released in to the wild…

This is termed as ‘turtle beach’, a place where the turtles come year after year, to bury their eggs – thus the protecting cages.


Of course, then we had to have a swim – in the warmest ocean ever!


And make ‘Hogwarts’ in the sand…complete with Hagrid’s hut, his pumpkin patch and the forbidden forest! πŸ˜‚


A wonderful trip indeed!

Goodbye Turkey! A lovely country with wonderful people! πŸ˜„

Boat Trip In Turkey

While Richard and the small boys went on a pirate ship trip, I took the big kids on a sailing trip around the islands on the Lycian coast.

It was wonderful…

We had the chance to swim, and to snorkel, and not only saw fish, but two sea turtles! We had lunch on the boat, and after lunch went on an inflatable ‘sofa’, pulled by a motor boat! Lots of fun!


The trip took us to a number of different swimming areas, including a couple of islands where we could get off and walk around. On one of which we found a few examples of pumice stone!

Wonderful! πŸ˜„

Relaxing In Turkey

One week ago we left for a wonderful, relaxing holiday in Sarigerme, in the Dalaman region, in Turkey. Amazing weather (between 27 and 30 C each day), a fantastic hotel, great food, and lovely people. 

Here are some shots of our time relaxing by and in the pool, and by the beach….


There were parasailers on the beach, and the kids enjoyed running in the shadows of the parachute… πŸ˜„


There were various pools, and we all had a lot of fun…


We often took walks around the hotel complex, especially evening walks – and Alfie and Ted enjoyed being sent off to the playground after dinner every evening… πŸ˜„


..as well as enjoying the free ice-cream and drink on offer…. πŸ˜‚


Alfie and Leon shared a room, and enjoyed their time together… 


..and there were lots of beautiful flowers…πŸ˜„


..as well as interesting ‘wild’ nature…


And that was the ‘basics’ of our holiday. The next post will be on our adventures in Turkey… πŸ˜„

Chinese New Year

We decided to celebrate a little Chinese New Year on Sunday. I know it was yesterday, but I also knew I had my english group, and a chinese meal wouldn’t be realistic. We couldn’t see the dancing dragon celebrations in town either, because it coincided with swimming lessons.

So a chinese meal at home it was….and very nice too!

We had red enevelopes for money gifts, from my friend Maxine…

  
..and made lanterns….

  …classic old decorations, going strong for years….

  
….and new ones…..

  

Chinese ‘joss lights’ (thank you Maxine again)….

  
…we used chopsticks (or tried to!)…

  
…and had a delicious chinese meal cooked by Richard…

  
…followed by my fortune cookies (which didn’t turn out so well! πŸ˜‚)…..

  
We had some Chinese books on offer (thanks mum for the first one)….

   
 
…and some colouring sheets (year of the monkey – Maya’s year!)…

  
…plus a little sensory writing tray, with chinese numbers….

  
All in all, a lovely calm chinese celebration! πŸ˜ƒ

 

Learning With Alfie

Since grade 2, Alfie has been finding school hard. Having absolutely loved Kindergatan and Grade 1, he now often fights against going to school. And in Sweden it is the law to go to school.

Why does he dislike school so much? Well, he is very bright, and has no problems when it comes to academic issues (gosh, if anything, he complains that things are too easy!), and he appears to have lots of good friends. But he is born in December, which means, by Swedish terms, he is the youngest in the year group – and in grade 2, unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of sitting, and a lot of ‘table work’ – and unfortunately, he’s landed in what is a very ‘fidgety’ class. Lovely kids, but many with great difficulties in sitting still and listening, and folllowing directions.

Essentially Alfie has no problems sitting still – if he’s interested in something. He can sit literally hours at a project he has created when drawing, making bead plates or making films, for example. But when something is too easy, or is being repeated and becomes tedious, or when the children and structure around him becomes ‘busy’, I think he finds it stressful.

And in reaction, he ‘fights back’. Not physically, but with language. Testing and trying out the limits. To a certain extent this may be natural with a boy of his age – but to some extent, I think it is important for children to have a grasp and an understanding of the ‘real world’ outside their own world, in order to keep their behaviour ‘on track’, to reflect, and to think about others.

Alfie has always loved animals. Really really loved them – and he has always had an ‘understanding’ of animals – almost as if he sees their personalities and characters. He is often seen in the school yard with beetles or frogs in his hands, or with snails crawling up his arms. 😊

In August we started reading books about animals – books about animals with personalities, and animals that do things for a reason. One of the books I read to him was called ‘A Golden Land’ by James Reeves. It is very very old, and is a compilation of different stories for different ages, many about animals. Alfie loved these stories, and despite them being very old, they were written is a simple and understable way – not too fussy – often being stories which had a topic of nature.

Seeing how much Alfie enjoyed these stories, we went on to read abridged versions of the Rudyard Kipling ‘Just So’ stories, ‘How the camel got his hump…’, and so on. He loved these too.

And so we started to read some of Aesop’s fables, from different sources. Often we read two different versions of the same story, and compared them. Alfie loved these. We went on to draw pictures of the animals in these stories, to make models, or sew the animals. We didn’t read them all of course, just the more well know ones ‘The Lion and the mouse’, ‘The Grasshopper and the ant’, ‘The town mouse and the country mouse’, ‘The fox and the grapes’, ‘The sun and the wind’, ‘The fox and the stork’ and ‘The crow and the pitcher’ were the ones I remember we did.

We also have been reading chapter books about animals together – ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’, ‘James and the Giant Peach’, the ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ series, an abridged (and rather easy version) of ‘The Wind in the Willows’, and more recently we have finished ‘Charlotte’s Web’.

In most of these books there is an underlying moral. I have been careful not to point out these morals to Alfie, but instead let him think about them, talk through them, and comment upon what is right or wrong, and the character’s behaviour. I think it has helped him to relect upon his own and other’s behaviour in school – why people do things, and what he himself should or should not do.

A friend of ours who teaches her children through Waldorf has since told me, that ironically, this would be part of a Waldorf curriculum in second grade. She also told me, that ‘The Saints’ is another area, in waldorf second grade, where the curriculum touches upon morals. This interested me, and I looked in the library for a relevant book. I found this one, which is in Swedish, but fortunately, my Swedish is now at a level where I can translate relatively well…..

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The book is called ‘In the Saints World’ and has simple but informative stories of many of the well known Saints.

Now I don’t want to drum in to Alfie the message of God behind the stories. Despite what I might believe, I also believe in letting my children decide on their own ‘roads’ in life – I feel my job is just to ‘steer’ them in the right direction. 😊

So, so far, we have read and talked about St Martin, who gave half his cloak to a homeless man – and we reinforced this with taking a sleeping bag to the homeless man who we have come to know, who sits outside our local shop. This was a real experience for Alfie, who chatted to him, shared his ginger biscuits with him, and who recieved a pair of (much loved) knitted bed socks from him, in return for the sleeping bag. In Germany they celebrate this Saint on November 11th with a lantern walk, which ironically we did on that very night in scouts, through the forest – and of course Alfie was with us….

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We then read the story of ‘Francis of Assisi’ who is the Saint of animals, and always took care of animals and saw that they were safe – the story with the wolf is a well known one. Here we talked about winter coming and the birds having no bird, and it only seemed natural to fill up the bird feeders and put them on the trees, to reinforce this story.

Then, being the beginning of December, it only seemed natural to read the story of St Nicholas – the ‘first’ father Christmas, who left coins in poor children’s shoes. He was happy to find a chocolate coin in his boot the next morning. 😊

Next weekend it is the festival of Saint Lucy (Lucia), which is a big festival in Sweden. We celebrate by cooking and eating saffron buns (Lussekatt) and watching children perform in Lucia concerts. This year we will be watching Ted in his playgroup Lucia concert at the church (last year it was Alfie, the year before Maya…). So of course, that reinforces the story of Saint Lucy for this week…..

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Croatia ; The Last Few Days

Tomorrow we leave for Sweden.

We’ve had a wonderful time and would rather be staying here in the sun for a few more days than to be returning to what is a cold and rainy Sweden! πŸ˜‰β˜”οΈ

However, the last few days have been very relaxing, despite a very thundery cold day on Friday…

  
We took a stroll up to Motovun again, where we tasted different types of olive oil…

   
 

…tried truffle risotto…

  
…and had an ice-cream…

  
Yesterday we went to another water park, and despite the slightly cold and cloudy weather, had a lot of fun. Ted it seems, enjoyed the different stones on the ‘beach’ the most, and found an array of rainbow colours among them…

  
  
We had been invited to dinner with an old work collegue of Richard’s who just happened to have a summer house in the area – and a Croatian wife…

  
…and were served with wonderful food!

Alfie and Ted enjoyed foraging from their cherry trees and playing with their son, while Leon and Maya sat pilotely listening to the adult conversation – and hearing the slightly disturbing, yet powerful, story of the father who had escaped the war in Iran on train by hiding in a suitcase. The man in the green shirt, is of Iranian descent and born in Iran, and was only six years old. His parents joined him and his brother (also smuggled over) in Sweden a year later, during which time the kids had been in a children’s home. 

An amazing and sad story which makes us think more deeply about the traumas of present refugees in the world right now. A real learning experience for us, as well as Leon and Maya!

Today was a beautiful hot and sunny day – too perfect to be sitting in a car! 

So we spent much of the day swimming in the pool….starting with ice-pops in pyjamas! πŸ˜†

  
   
   ..before swimming…

  
This holiday we’ve seen some amazing sights and had some lovely sunshine. We’ve learnt about Croatian history, and some of its Roman history. We’ve tasted Croatian food, and learnt about what foods grow here in Croatia (olives, grapes and truffles). We’ve learnt some words of Croatian, and about it’s religion. We’ve learnt that dinosaurs once lived in this habitat and seen their fossilized footprints. We’ve observed insects and small ‘creeps’ we’ve never seen before. We’ve swam and we’ve hiked ; we’ve laughed and played games.

Alfie is now able to swim for at least a width without arm bands and his head above water; Maya has learnt how to play poker ; Leon has been able to forget school, relax, play and laugh again ; and Ted…well, Ted learns a little bit of something every day! πŸ˜‰

I’d say it’s been a fantastic holiday…! 

  
πŸ˜€πŸ‘β˜€οΈπŸ‡πŸ›πŸŒΈπŸŠπŸ»βœˆοΈ

The Butterflies In Croatia

In our garden here in Croatia there are a whole line of lavender bushes. I read somewhere that Croatia is famous for its huge variety of butterflies, and these bushes certainly attract quite a few.

It has been just lovely to sit and watch them in the sun. Sometimes there can be seven or eight at one time – and lots and lots of bees too!

  
  
  
  
  
Just beautiful! πŸ’•

Safari Bar ; Croatia

Yesterday evening, in the national park of Kamenjak, we discovered a most fabulous cafΓ© / bar.

Set up by ‘hippies’, the wonderful natural seating, hidden within a labrinth of bamboo and maize plantations, the cafΓ© also included a children’s play area built in and around the eating areas – all made from recycled materials….

   
                    

             A pretty nice place to eat! πŸ‘πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜ŠπŸ˜Š  

Dinosaur Footprints!!!

In Premeture we discovered a beautiful national park ‘Kamenjak’, where REAL dinosaur footprints have been discovered! 

We set off on the informative dinosaur trail, telling us about ammonite fossils that can be found on the shore here, and about the dinosaur species that once lived here.

  
   
     

Did you know that sharks lived 2 million years before the dinosaurs, and the biggest shark ever known to exist was 18 metres long?!!!

This part of the coast has a temperate environment similar to the Mediterranean which is not only why some dinosaurs were able to live here, but also explains the fascinating number of variable plant species.

   
             

…and the giant ants…!

   
 

  
Okay. The last one is just a model. πŸ˜‰

The dinosaur footprints were incredible – though sadly almost impossible to see in the photos….

   
       

Maya and I spent a long time looking at them (the other guys did not see the exit and walked straight past!), and I then came back with Alfie who also spent a great deal of time measuring with his own hand and feeling the form of the three toed foot (because the prints were so worn they can not be certain what type of dinosaur they were from, but suggestions are that they were herbivores). Imagine! Real dinosaur footprints!!!

Maya and Alfie both took a long time to show and explain to the others about these footprints….

   
 

I really enjoyed seeing their enthusisam as they acted as guides! πŸ˜€

Of course, beyond doubt, the coastal scenery was outstanding!

   
         

It reminded me a little of the Californian coast near Big Sur, where we lived before. And I won’t lie to you that my stomach was in my mouth when the kids wanted to swim in those waves against all those rocks…..😳

   
 

Alfie, I’m glad to say, decided against going too far in, but Leon and Maya braved the waters – and survived! πŸ‘πŸ˜‰πŸŠπŸ»