Mamma's School

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Kivik – The Apple Capital Of Sweden

Since moving to Sweden, I have started compiling lists of where to visit and what to see.  Somewhere not too far from us is the county of Skåne.  This county is known for its huge expanse of sandy beaches, its proliferation of apple blossom in the spring, and lovely old villages.  So, with far too much on my list to achieve in one day, we chose 5 things to do on a bright but chilly and windy spring day.  First up was the village of Kivik, but we will no doubt be returning many times to this lovely county to do more exploring!!

Kivik has an old part of the town near the harbour and seafront.  It has lovely old buildings and cobbled streets, and is very beautiful.  It has lots of unique little shops, restaurants, and cafes.  It is very early in the spring here, but we got a taste of how it would come alive in the summer months, and how people would be jostling for space at the fresh fish restaurants, and enjoying the sandy harbour area.  It also has one of Sweden’s oldest cinemas there, but we did not locate that.

The area around Kivik is also very renowned for its apple growing.  The climate seems to favour this fruit here, and Kivik is the centre of Swedish apple cultivation; the apple capital of Sweden.  In fact, there is so much going on, that the blossom season is a sight to see in its own right, and we had set out on our adventure aiming to see this.  A month ago when we visited the UK the blossom season was in full swing, and I thought we may have been OK visiting it here in Sweden now, but I think we were a little early, but only by a week or so.  Some of the trees had started and others were ready to burst open with blossom, and it hinted at the spectacle of what was to come.  It was still very pretty, but we were a little too early in May for our visit.

Kivik - The Apple Capital of Sweden, Visit Skane, Osterlen, apple blossom, sweden www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

3 Little Buttons

Learning to Use a Compass – Teaching the Basics.

Learning to Use a compass-teaching the basics, compass, navigation, orienteering, map reading www.mammasschool.co.ukToday’s hike had an ulterior motive behind it…to get the trio learning more about the basics of using their compasses.  We have had these out before for a little walk, and a brief lesson about finding north, but I felt it was now time to learn a little more about direction.  My trio definitely learn best in the great outdoors, and with a practical skill such as compass use, it suits us better to be doing it outside, rather than sat indoors.  I remember at school doing the theory indoors and then heading outdoors for the practical, but not really taking anything in until we were outdoors.  Therefore, I aim to teach as much as I can out on the ground, and less splitting it into definite theory and practical elements for them, as they find it much harder to relate the theory to anything!

We left the car in the car park, and had gone 20m when we came across a style, and our first stand off of the hike.  My double trouble are very into competing against each other.  It ranges from who is first everywhere, to who was last in through the door so has to shut the door (the back door is open flapping letting cold air in for ages while they argue who shuts it), and today it seemed no one wanted to be first down the steps the other side, although both had reached the top together in a race!!  My little lady and I were stuck behind them trying to get them to shift so we could get on with the yomp!  Oh the joys of hiking with little people.  The trio were quite grumpy on this particular afternoon, so I decided we’d hike to our designated fire pit for the afternoon, have our cooked treat and a play, and then hopefully they would be in better spirits for the return leg, and a bit of a compass lesson.  No point teaching them in this mood as nothing will go in and they will not be receptive.  Sometimes, I’ll carry on the plans with whoever is receptive, but with all three behaving like it was a bad day, there was little point!!  It was a lovely spring day so I was determined we would make the most of it.

We arrived at where the fire pit should have been, but there wasn’t one we could find…very unusual here in Sweden.  So we retraced our steps a bit to a large rock and gathered some stones into a circle and created our own fire pit.  It was good for the children to learn why I wasn’t just happy to place a fire any old place in the woods, and then how to build one, so all was not lost!  I had also bought a new piece of equipment, a raised grill shelf on legs, that I wanted to try out too.  The fire pits here are great, but it isn’t until you reach somewhere that you find out whether you have a grill over it or not.  Not everything we cook needs it, but there are some things I prefer not to place directly on the flames, and today I was using a saucepan so it was a perfect chance to try it out.  We lit our fire, we cooked our food (see outdoor cooking for the campfire posts, as recipe in another blog post), and the children played happily….well until there was screaming to be heard!  The trio had found a tree to climb that was infested with the hugest red ant colony.  Instead of then staying away from it, they felt it was a challenge of who could get up and down it without getting bitten, but also they were curious to watch them.  Very soon someone had been nipped (twin 1) and he was yelling at the top of his lungs (he has big strong lungs!!).  Luckily I carry Anthisan, so it was calmed down quite quickly and another lesson was learnt!

Apart from the ant nip, everyone was in much better spirits so we each got our compasses out.  We started by learning the main four directions of the compass…north, south, east, and west.  Looking at the letter with the little ones, and working out what that would then stand for.  We then lined north up, to work out which way we were walking.  Luckily this was quite simple at first as the path followed an east direction.  Very soon though my little lady announced that “Mamma it is in the middle of north and east now”.  At this point we then sat down and looked at the other letters on the compass (NE, SE, SW, and SE).  Once we had learnt to listen to the sound of those letters (for the twins) to then work out what they stood for (the little lady was a little bit easier to teach as she can work it out quicker), we then were able to stop at regular intervals and say in which direction we were walking.  That was more than enough for them to take on board today, and I think we will be just practising that skill for a little while yet before we introduce anything else new, but they enjoyed it, and the accomplishment of understanding what the compass was saying.

All three did eventually admit they had loved their little hike, despite the wobbly start.  Once I had got over twin 1’s insistence that he didn’t need to use the compass because he wasn’t lost, they also loved being able to use the compass and work out what it was saying!  It was a close shave at the start of the walk, but eventually it became a successful and sunny afternoon out!

 

 

Campfire Granola – Make Gooey Granola in the Great Outdoors

Campfire Granola, gooey granola, granola, campfire treat, outdoor cooking, outdoor food, camping food, bushcraft food, www.mammasschool.co.ukWe recently did a hike where all three were a little bit on the grumpy side, and I knew I needed something a little special to see them through, and get them into a better frame of mind!  Hence why I cooked up this gooey granola treat.  They loved it, and it did turn our day around 🙂 You can make this in a foil parcel, but I opted for a pan.  I had a new grill frame I wanted to try out, plus I thought it would be easier.

 

 

So what do you need for your gooey granola?

Knob of butter

Honey/agave syrup/syrup

Oats

Cinnamon

Chocolate

Marshmallows

(fruit such as slices of banana or strawberries, but this is optional)

How to make your gooey granola:

Put knob of butter into the pan and melt it

Add oats and syrup/honey of your choice until oats are moist, and a sprinkle of cinnamon, then cook while keeping an eye on it so that it doesn’t burn.

Once baked and crunchy, add in chocolate chunks and marshmallows to melt into it and stir in.  It is at this point you can add in fruit chunks too.

Once all melted and mixed, serve up with a bowl and spoon 🙂  Enjoy your reviving treat!

Blowing Dandelion Bubbles – Nature’s Bubble Blower.

Blowing dandelion bubbles - Nature's bubble blower, nature bubbles www.mammasschool.co.ukWe have just had a lovely afternoon blowing dandelion bubbles through the plant’s stem 🙂 The trio loved making these and then experimenting with them also.

It’s a really easy activity to prepare, and because it’s outside all mess is outdoors too…bonus!  So what do you need for blowing dandelion bubbles?

Washing up liquid

Water

Bowl for mixing

Scissors

and of course….dandelions!!

Here is what you do:

Make up some soapy water

Cut the flower head off

Trim the other end of the stalk too

Swirl around one end in the soapy water (not the end you want to put up to your mouth!!).

Then gently blow through the stem, and you should see your bubble 🙂

My trio loved blowing dandelion bubbles, and then experimenting with different lengths of stem, different diameters of stem, variations of puffing, and who could make the biggest dandelion bubbles.  It was such a lovely, but chilly day, they stayed there for a good while.  Afterwards the chalks came out for drawing, and even a small potion was whipped up with the newly flowering plants.

 

 

Country Kids

Seed Bombs – The Gardening Grenade!

Seed Bombs-The gardening grenade, children gardening, gardening, seeds, wildflowers www.mammasschool.co.ukSeed bombs are a great way to introduce colour, flowers, and therefore wildlife, into corners where nobody seems to care….just go for a walk, and lob one of these creations into a place that is dull and boring and then return in the summer to see if it has worked.  They are great for brightening up places you feel are uncared for, but full of sunshine with grass or bare soil.  We had an ulterior motive though here in our Swedish garden.  It is HUGE…..I’m not boasting, as that is just the way where we live, but it’s 3 hours of lawn mowing & strimming a week huge.  Gardens here are very different from back in the UK.  Forget a lot of plants that you would have in the UK, as they won’t survive the winter.  Then there are the deer and elk that like to nibble the lovely blooms, not to mention the stony wild areas that just need to be left the way nature intended.  You need to work with the wild, and tame it where you can.  It is a whole new experience of gardening out here.  I have left a very small UK garden although it was bursting with very typical English cottage style flower beds and climbing roses, to learn very rapidly that I can’t do that here (or maintain it even if I could!).  So, we have a few “wild” areas of our own, that would benefit from the gardener’s hand grenade that is the seed bomb.

So what do you need?

1 cup of air drying clay

1 cup of compost

2 packets of seeds

(we have multiplied this to cater for the fact that I have three children doing it, and a lot of space to cover!!  However, having said that, once we had put out the supplies, the boys decided they weren’t participating today!)

So how do you make them?

Break the clay into small pieces and put into a bucket or bowl

Add the compost

Rub the 2 together

Sprinkle in your seeds and gently stir.

Roll into small balls and place on a tray to dry out (1-2 days).

 

Choose your designated area and head out for a garden grenade throwing session 🙂

 

Leaving Family and Friends Behind to Follow Your Dreams

Leaving family and friends behind to follow your dreams. Moving abroad. Moving away from family and friends. www.mammasschool.co.ukI have been umming and ahhhing about writing this post, as I don’t usually write about myself, and my blog is about the children and family life in general.  However, this is a big topic relevant to us moving abroad, and the only down side I have stumbled upon so far.  So, in the light of giving a balanced view on our move to Sweden and how it is working, this topic is something I feel needs to be written about.  When we moved, I always knew we were also making the decision to leave our family and friends behind in order to pursue a long term dream of mine and Dadda’s.  I don’t think I ever underestimated the enormity of this, but 6 months on, and after a recent trip to the UK, I am feeling it a little more than usual.  Definitely no regrets about returning back to Sweden though after the UK visit.

It is very common now not to have your family around you for immediate support when bringing up your children, and I realise this.  However, I did have a lovely group of friends from various eras and areas of my life.  People have been amazingly friendly here in Sweden since we moved, and hugely helpful, but it takes time to build up the sort of relationships with family and friends that we left behind in the UK.  As well as the relationships you leave behind, for a long while you are leaving behind the option of you and your partner heading out together for some quality time as there is no one to look after our mad trio just yet. Not only that, but when the going gets tough (which it has been with the trio recently), there is no back up, no one to give you a break, and no one to moan to that knows both you and your children properly just yet.  I think that is why I am feeling it a little more recently, as the trio have been a little hot to handle in various ways, and being a stay at home mum, I am with them 24/7.  If you are thinking of moving abroad, this is something to seriously consider…how you would cope leaving behind your family and friends.  I am not saying I won’t make new friends here, I really hope I can and do, but you need to consider if you really can go it alone as a family unit, certainly for a good chunk of time near the beginning (perhaps one of the most stressful times too as everyone settles down into their new life).  I will attempt to explain why I am missing these important people.

Back in the UK over Easter I met up with some of my closest friends for a catch up and a hug.  The first one we met at Gatwick for breakfast.  This lovely person has known me pre-children, pre-marriage, whilst I was working as a nurse, and we have shared drunken camping trips together.  Then my little lady met her 2 BFF’s whose mums happen to be 2 of my BFF’s.  We have been together since our girls were 4.  They have known me with baby twins, they have helped me chase toddler twins on days out, they have never once judged my chaos, and we have supported each other through the ups and cliff dropping downs of life, as have our girls.  Then there are my 2 close friends that are fellow twin mums.  One supported me hugely when mine were newborns (she was a few years down the line, and could remember the calamity with clarity!), and the other one has twins a few months younger than mine.  They know what it is to have young twins, and to try and carry on with the chaos that twins bring, and survive others’ judgements and often open comments and criticism!  These lovely ladies know me as a person in my own right rather than just a Mamma and relocation planner!  However, they also know our children too and my other half, and can easily offer help, advice, support, or even just a mummys’ night out.  Being new in Sweden, and being a stay at home mum, means that I am struggling a little to make a groove for myself outside of being a Mamma and a wife.  Whilst our little lady and mini men settle into their school/förskola friendships, and Dadda has headed out a few times now with his work colleagues, whose company he enjoys, I am floundering a little on the friendship front.  I know it will all come as I have met some really lovely people that have made us all feel so welcome, and I know it will take time to build up relationships, and until then I’ve just got to settle in for the long haul, but it doesn’t make missing these special people that are family and friends any easier…..you know who you are, and I am so lucky to have you as my friends, and I look forward to welcoming you here over the summer 🙂

Valborg – The Welcoming of Spring.

So it was time for our next Swedish experience, Walpurgis Eve (in English), or Valborg (in Swedish), is the official welcoming of spring.  It is traditional to light fires, enjoy each others company, and sing songs together, and happens on the last day of April.   Officially, spring has arrived when the daily average temperature tops zero degrees Celsius for seven days in a row here in Sweden….a tough one recently with snow falling not so long ago, but large parts of the country are now managing to confirm this has happened….at last!  The Swedish are celebrating the end of the harsh winter (less harsh down here in the south, but still dark, cold, and long!), and looking forward to the summer sunshine….especially on our island where its nickname is Little Hawaii 🙂  This event is named after St. Walpurga (which is Valborg in Swedish), an English missionary who celebrated Christianity in other parts of Europe.  These days, it is more to do with spring than Christianity.  The King also happens to have his birthday on this day, but that is just a lovely coincidence. The larger cities take on more of an all day party feel, with students kicking off their day with champagne breakfasts, and the celebrations go from there.  There are some huge bonfires too in the larger cities, with lots of other traditions going on as well.  You may even be passed a warming hot cup of liquid as well……some lovely nettle soup as soon as the snow melts here they are springing up.  A sure sign spring has arrived.

So what did we get up to on our lovely little island we call home?  In the harbour at the North West part of the island, there was a larger community bonfire.  We set off on our bikes to experience this celebration for the first time at this location.  On the way, we saw many relaxing with barbecues or their own fires, in the early spring sunshine (fully dressed in hats and gloves still!), with the boat houses open for the first time I have seen.  It was so lovely to see the island alive after the long winter.  There are always people out walking/running/cycling around the island, but there was just a more relaxed vibe about tonight, and whilst it was still cold, people were happy to sit outdoors and enjoy their food, rather then hunkering down back indoors.  A true feeling that spring is finally coming.  We decided this year to feed our tribe earlier, and just turn up and see what happens.  Next year I think we too will be grilling sausages along with everyone else.  As it was, our 5 year old twins were nearly collapsed with tiredness once we got home at the grand time of 8pm!!

The fire was lit and everyone had a little sing song, and after that was over people got back to just chilling with their drinks and food, or started their grilling and relaxing with their friends.  People who were not cooking were already drifting away back to their cosy homes and we followed soon after with our tired trio.  But we had thoroughly enjoyed out first Valborg in our new home.

With the sun setting, and the smoking embers of the bonfire in the distance, voices could be heard happily chattering away , enjoying each other’s company and cooking outdoors.  As we cycled away it was like the island was on fire, there was so much smoke rising from it, from all the fires that had been lit in celebration.  I am thinking I really like this celebration and its cosy feel, and whilst I don’t wish my little people to grow up too fast, I am looking forward to when the smaller 2 are a little older and we too can chill with them and some drink and food, instead of pedalling back home for bedtime 🙂

Valborg - The Welcoming Of Spring, spring, start of spring, springtime www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

Country Kids

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway – Window on the Past

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway is nestled running through the magnificent rolling countryside of the Cotswolds.  The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR), is a heritage railway using part of the Great Western Railway’s old line.  There is a choice of steam or diesel trains running from Cheltenham Racecourse and Laverton, and it is a very beautiful trip.  There are huge views over towards the Malvern Hills, glorious yellow fields, and lots of small newborn lambs.  Eventually the railway will extend all the way to Broadway.  The railway is run by volunteers.

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway runs both steam and diesel locomotives so you need to check the timetable if you want to catch a specific one.  We were aiming for steam and started from the Cheltenham end of the line.

We boarded the train and got underway.  The train stopped at Gotherington, and Winchcombe, before arriving at our planned destination of Toddington.  We got off at Toddington to enjoy a picnic in the sunshine, a hot drink from the restaurant, and a run around the well placed play area.  The stations are very beautiful, lots of flower beds around the old signal boxes, old milk churns, and plenty of other historical artefacts around the throw back station areas.  When we got off the train, we were treated to such a special spectacle.  We watched the steam engine detach from the carriages, and go up the line, before it tooted, and then we could see the signal man in the box, drop the signal changing the line and watch the engine come back down the line towards the other end of the carriages.  Before it reconnected back up, we watched the drivers go about their housework chores.  First we watched the train being filled up with water, and also coal being shovelled forwards towards the fire.  The children could get close enough to the engine to see this all going on very well.  We then watched the engine manoeuvre into position, and they did a few more jobs before leaving the station. My trio were fascinated.

We headed off for our picnic and play (and of course an ice cream) relaxing in the spring sunshine, before returning back on the steam train.  We had such a lovely laid back day, and all three were fascinated by the steam engine.  You could get up really close to see what was going on which they really appreciated.  It was a big learning curve for all of them, and a great day out 🙂

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway GWSR Steam Trains Steam Engines railways www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

 

Plutonium Sox

Low Sugar Treats – All in the Name of Science!

This month’s Whizz Pop Bang magazine is called “Sugar Rush – The Science of Sweetness”.  As usual it is jam packed with fun facts and activities, but the main “doing” tasks this month were three low sugar treats to make.  With exactly three to make, it helped me immensely as there was one for each child!!

First up was our little lady with the first of the low sugar treats to make; Date Munchies.  The ingredients needed are:  2 tbsps of raisins, 2 tbsps of pitted dates, 2 tbsps of walnuts, and 1 tbsp of desiccated coconut.

 

 

All the ingredients, except for the coconut, are mixed in the blender to a smooth paste.  The coconut is then added and we squished ours into ball shapes….yummy!

Next up was twin 1 with Cocoa Truffles.  For these we needed 1 tbsp of ground almonds, 3 tbsps of cocoa, and 2 tbsps of low sugar strawberry jam.  All the ingredients are mixed thoroughly together, before squishing into ball shapes and popping in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes.

 

Last up was twin 2 with the third of the low sugar sweet treats, Coconut Ice.  For this you needed 100ml double cream, 3 tbsp sugar free strawberry jam, and desiccated coconut.  Mix the jam and cream together well, and then stir in coconut slowly until you are left with a dry paste.  Then we squished ours into balls again (much easier for little hands), and popped into the fridge to go firm.

The great thing about all three of these recipes was their simplicity.  There was minimum measuring out (which is all learning, but sometimes when you have all three baking, it’s just nice to have an easy life!!), and there were also minimum ingredients, keeping it so simple for them.  All three loved doing their “baking”, even though no heat was involved, and are now waiting patiently until after their supper to sample their creations 🙂

Low Sugar Treats - all in the name of science www.mammasschool.co.uk

Thimble and Twig

Campfire Pizza – The Perfect Pizza Parcel Treat

Campfire Pizza, pizza parcels, outdoor cooking, outdoor cooking parcel, bushcraft pizza www.mammasschool.co.ukCampfire pizza is a fail safe menu choice when taking my trio to eat in the great outdoors! They are very simple to make, quick to cook, and filling to eat.  My trio could very easily make these themselves, but unusually I was left to it today as they headed off to investigate what treasures the beach held 🙂

 

 

 

So, what do you need for a campfire pizza?

Some bread based substance…we used some round Swedish bread, but this will work on baguettes, pittas, or rolls.  Whatever takes your fancy!

Tomato puree

Grated cheese

Any other topping you like (we took some sandwich ham today to add)

The really useful thing about campfire pizza is that it can be pre-prepared at home, and carted off in its foil parcel wrap ready for cooking.  I chose (or rather ran out of time) to do mine where we were cooking.  Splodge and spread some tomato puree onto your chosen bread base.  Then add the grated cheese on top.  I shredded pieces of wafer sandwich ham on top.  Followed by the extra toppings of your choice.  Then place them on top of the fire, wrapped up in foil.  Ours were perfectly cooked in five minutes 🙂  Good for those children that need almost instant gratification!!  We served ours with a side order of corn on the cob (again wrapped in foil and heated on the fire).  I felt the need to try and balance out all the Easter chocolate we had been eating, and lack of vegetables in the last few days!!

Once they are cooked, unwrap and serve up.  Make sure you find a nice log with a lovely view to enjoy together with the yummy food 🙂  As you can see, my trio were more than happy with their campfire pizza, and were clamouring for more!  However, as simple as they were to make, they were handed a delicious apple to balance out yet more of the Easter chocolate 😉

 

Thimble and Twig
Thimble and Twig

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