Saturday, January 25, 2014

Week Ending 26 January 2014

 She's been in a low-tide phase for several months now (lots of learning but of the unstructured variety, and we do a mix of both structured and unstructured here) and the weather this week was meant to be cool and wet. So Miss 13 decided the time was right to ease back into some more structured learning. She began with Latin, Math and Literature this week. So far all is going smoothly. Well, except for the beginning of literature. I happened across this little animated video series on the BBC School Radio site and thought it would be a good introduction to The Tempest. And it was. Except for the fact that the site and our computer experienced communication difficulties so it took several attempts and more than couple of hours before we completed the series of clips that should have only taken 30 minutes! Argh. Still, once we (meaning Mr 16) sorted the technical issues it was a  fun little watch .We followed it up by reading a story version aloud - from Charles and Mary Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare.  I actually prefer Leon Garfield's Shakespeare Stories, but couldn't get my hands on the right volume (it used to be in our library system but sadly no longer seems to be). We now have a great overview of the characters, basic plots etc and we're ready to tackle the original. I've ordered a copy from the Oxford School Shakespeare Series and I'm hoping it arrives really soon.

There was still lots of time left for unstructured/interest led- learning. We spent some time in the garden on one of the drier days pulling out the plants that had failed to grow (hasn't been a good summer gardening wise - not enough consecutive warm days), then drove to the garden centre for some more seedlings to plants in their stead. Very little was available but we did get some more basil, lettuce, spinach, bok choy  and coriander - not to mention extra swan plants to keep the Monarch caterpillars going. The one thing that has been growing well in  the garden is zucchini. This week's menu has included zucchini and pea risotto, zucchini mint salad, zucchini and mussel fritters, grilled zucchini, zucchini luncheon slice, a zucchini and corn toss, and savoury tomato and zucchini stir-fry. I think the family are about to ban me from going outside to harvest any more of it!
Scrabble is Miss 13's game of choice at the moment and we've played several games each day, often experimenting with different rules including allowing French and Latin words. We also revived a  project we started last year then sort of forgot about. Nothing like an approaching deadline to focus the attention! The  Christmas special for Downton Abbey aired here this week . It provided  plenty of scope for interesting discussions on class, history, foreshadowing, scriptwriting reading and character development among other topics. Miss 13 spent some time in the kitchen. The resulting lemon meringue ice cream  was delicious but not exactly healthy! We  spent a day at the World Busker's Festival . The street performers were mainly on stages in the park since we have a shortage of street venues that aren't affected by demolition and/or construction at the moment! Miss 13 especially enjoyed acrobatic acts like this  (this segment was actually filmed right here last year) and this. There's also been plenty of reading. Somehow Miss 13 has finished Mine For Keeps, Ties that Bind, Ties that Break, The Devil's Arithmetic and Letters from Rifka this week, as well as reading more sections from a couple of bird books she is plugging away at. I finally finished A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki which was challenging in places - and I'm still not sure I got all the quantum physics that was referenced!

And of course there's been birding. One day we explored a river mouth we'd never visited before.The drizzle didn't exactly help with visibility but we did see plenty of Spotted Shags - first time for them this year. We also took part in a national survey of the Australasian Crested Grebe, counting numbers of adults, juveniles and chicks and mapping nesting sites. It was really windy at the lake we were surveying and Miss 13 struggled to hold her scope steady enough to see through. At one stage I thought she was in danger of blowing into the lake, the wind was so strong! Still we saw a dozen Grebe - not bad when there are thought to be only 600 or so in the country and we are on the edge of their range. We also got our first ever sighting of a Gull-Billed Tern. Glad we had some expert birders with us since we wouldn't have been sure of the identification by ourselves.
A Crested Grebe from last year - too windy for photos this time!
As for Mr 16,  he spent a day as an abseiling instructor (it would have been two but weather intervened) , had a 24 computer gaming session (as part of a publicity drive for his scouting unit),  got in plenty of driving practice, has been busy with lots of administrative stuff for scouting including arranging his six-month service project, and attended an open day at the local polytechnic, hopefully getting some inspiration for the future. While he might be happy to stay in the low-tide forever I've decided he needs a little push into more structured pursuits as well starting this coming week.

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