Author Archives: rachel

Train Spotters R Us

Do you ever see signs to exhibitions running at your local village or town hall and just walk straight by? We recommend that next time you have a little wander in. We have wandered past the sign to a local scout train exhibition on a few occasions in the last couple of years. We’ve always been on our way somewhere else or haven’t had time to take a look. How silly were we? We saw the sign up for the coming exhibition this time and made a special effort to go along for a look.

A few hours later, a ploughmans, several slices of cake, a few cups of tea and a jug of squash down, and a pair of earrings and necklace up, we were happy and train’ed up.

There were several miniature railways set up, including a 6 inch high thomas the tank engine and friends!! Some trains had steam pumping out the engines, others were picking up cargo, some had working signals. Our favourite was the Welsh railway village (pictured) with it’s doughnut shop, pub, church and cows. We had great difficulty walking away from that one!

Once we’d had our fill of trains, and had managed not to purchase any of the fantastic trainage on offer, we sat in the waiting room with a cup of tea and cake while the younger members of the party sat with their squash and watched Thomas doing his thing.

On the way out we even had a lucky dip and won a beautiful (!) pair of earrings and equally special necklace.

So next time you wander past a local exhibition, wander in and have a look. You’ll be supporting a local group as well as possibly stumbling on a little gem of a few hours.

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Dylan and Grace’s Top 10 Half Term Activities

So here in Oxfordshire it seems we have had half term a week before everyone else. We thought we’d share the Dylan and Grace team’s activities this week in case your thinking cap is struggling for ideas for next week:

  1. Take a trip to a friends – team up with your friends to have some play dates. You can enjoy a chat and cup of tea and the children can burn off energy together!
  2. Take a trip to nanny’s – children love a sleepover and half term is a great time to send the children off to nanny’s for a night. You get the night off and they’ll undoubtedly stay up late which means they’ll have an early night the following night too!
  3. Take a trip to a garden centre – many garden centres will put on activities for children over half term. One close by encouraged children to make and decorate their own birdhouse, another had craft events on including decopatch and birdfeeder making.
  4. Paint, paint, paint – on at least 2 occasions this half term we had strings of paintings across the dining room. Children love to paint and if you add in some cut up Continue reading
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Homemade Advent Calendars – Christmas Crafting…

Only traditional advent calendars are allowed in our house. No chocolate Hello Kitty calendars here I’m afraid. Luckily we have very little resistance to this – as yet! This year we decided to create our own advent calendar to add to the 2 traditional calendars already lined up on our mantlepiece waiting for 1st December.

Here’s how we did it, it’s very easy so do give it a try. To help keep the suspense of what’s behind each door, why not get everyone to create one and then swap so they’ve no idea what lies underneath.

Our easy guide…
What you need:

  1. 2 x pieces of card
  2. Very sharp scissors/knife (for the grown up!)
  3. Glue
  4. Pens – or other decorating tools if you fancy

What you do:

  1. Draw a lovely Christmas scene on one of the pieces of card
  2. Turn over the card and draw Continue reading
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Our Top 5 Favourite Stocking Fillers…

Magnets Stocking FillerThe bells are getting ready to jingle, Father Christmas has ironed his suit and the elves are busy with wrap and ribbon. We’re very excited about next month’s visitor already – as our the Dylan and Grace children.

We thought we’d share with you the top Dylan and Grace stocking fillers – as selected by Father Christmas’ elves themselves!

  1. Animal Tracks Casting Kit – ideal for Christmas morning after those reindeer have left garden tracks!
  2. All About Magnetism Set – who doesn’t love putting magnets north to north and south to south to see them move all on their own!
  3. Medal Making Kit – have fun making lots of medals while also learning all about British medals, what they’re called, what they look like, who received them and when.
  4. Magnifying Bug Box – can you tell me it isn’t fun to see what insects look like up close and personal?
  5. Find & Make Robot Kit – everything you need to create a cool (and environmental friendly) robot – just add your recycling box!

Take a look at the other stocking fillers on offer at Dylan and Grace – just be quick before the elves snap them all up for themselves!

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Homemade Christmas Pudding – Y U M M Y !

We’re a little late with our Christmas pudding making this year but there’s still enough time to let it mature and taste extra scrummy.

We absolutely suggest making your own too. I am definitely a Christmas pudding convert in the last 10 years. Homemade is most definitely the way to Christmas pudding perfection. It’s also a family tradition to get together, make the pudding and each have a stir and make a wish.

If you fancy a try, here’s our recipe (tried, tested and very, very yummy!). It’s enough for a large pudding for 8.

Ingredients (excuse the ounces, my grandmother doesn’t do grams):

  • 8oz Moist Brown Sugar
  • 8oz Sultanas
  • 8oz Raisins
  • 8oz Currants
  • 4oz Candied Peel (personally, I can’t abide the stuff so Continue reading
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Junk Doggie – Recycling Creations

children's recylcing craftWhat to do with a spare couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon? Search through your recycling box and see what inspiration you can find. Add in a few bits and bobs from your craft box and the world is your recycled oyster.

We started creating without exactly knowing what the end result would be. We’re pretty pleased with the resulting pull-along puppy. Now to find a home for it before, in a few weeks, it quietly makes its way back into the box where it came from!!

Fancy making a pull along puppy?

  • You need a toilet roll, 2 empty cotton reels, 2 pipe cleaners, string, cardboard, yoghurt pot and a vegetable box
  • Cut 4 sections out of the bottom of the toilet roll Continue reading
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Beale Park – Half Term Family Fun

As today promised to be a sunny Autumn day so we had a little web search of the local area to get inspired for a day out. We chose Beale Park – or Child Beale Trust as it was when I was little. It’s a wildlife park just outside Pangbourne in Berkshire and offers lots of animals, outdoor space, play areas and picnicking (though the good old weather forecast was slightly wrong and our picnic was actually eaten cheekily inside the toy display room!!).

Here’s a quick photo story of our day…

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Scary, Yet Yummy, Halloween Lollies!

Children's Cooking FunIn preparation for tonight’s Halloween party we have had our baking and making hats on. We’ve created lovely posters to decorate the walls and have made these scary Halloween lollies for yummy post dinner treats.

We’ve had a little taste and as they’re so yummy we thought we’d share!

Here’s how:

  1. Firstly buy a slab of chocolate or chocolate drops
  2. Heat  and stir the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of hot water until it’s all melted
  3. Lay out some tin foil on a flat surface
  4. Once the chocolate cools a little, poor into ghosty shapes on the foil
  5. Lay a stick into each shape (we cut the ends off some cotton buds)
  6. Pop into the fridge to cool

Yummy! Scary! Yummy!

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Indoor Halloween Fright Night

Last year we had lots of requests from our Grace for trick or treating, this year we’ve only had requests for a brilliant Halloween night like last year. Last year we shared our Halloween fun to avoid the lure of trick or treating and it clearly worked so I thought I’d share our plans for tomorrow in case you’re facing the same dilemma.

So yesterday was a full moon. Not in our house, the full moon is tomorrow. To little eyes it will still look almost the same and will make Halloween twice as scary.

As you can see from our beautiful picture, the posters have already been created – please note the weird green glow in the middle of the picture just appeared when the photo was taken!! Weeeeiiirrrrrdd!!!!

The first plan is to hunt from some twigs and sticks to make into our own broomstick. Then we’ll be carving our pumpkins. Then creating pictures to decorate our walls. Then we’ll be creating some little baskets to collect our treats – just make a cone with black or decorated paper and tape on a paper handle.

Then just before dinner, we’ll raid our dressing up box, get out the facepaints and create ourselves some scary Halloween monsters! Then off we’ll fly to dinner on our Continue reading

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Create Your Own Name Masterpiece

children's name wall masterpieceThere was a bit of a space on our 6 year old’s bookshelf so we decided we may as well fill it. We had a hunt around to decide what masterpiece to create and what special materials we could use to do it. We happened upon our fabric basket and the solution to our empty space problem solution popped right out.

We skipped off to the Thursday town market and bought 3 8×6 photo frames. Then came home and got out our scissors, blue tack and fabric basket.

About an hour later, hey presto, where there once was a gap is now a pretty, patterned name masterpiece.

Fancy a go? Here’s our guide:

  1. Choose which fabrics to use for each background and each fabric letter. If you don’t have a fabric basket, you can usually get off cuts from a material shop or market – or take a look in charity shops for old curtains or flowery dresses. As an alternative, you could Continue reading
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