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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Tuesday, 15 March 2005

Day in the countryside...

As we're home-educating Christopher, it's times like this that make a real difference - especially seeing it was the most pleasant day, weatherwise, so far this year.

After dropping Ella off at Beth's Mum's... well, after popping home to pick up her shoes (my fault for not noticing she'd come to the car in her wellies; she's very much into footwear - the next Imelda Marcos, perhaps?) we headed west, first to visit the The Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum.

Beth had taken a school trip there as a child, but it was still as spell-binding nearly twenty years later. I don't think I've ever seen so many different sorts of animals in once place; OK, so they were stuffed, but the sheer variety of creatures, from tiny hummingbirds and even smaller beetles to the skeleton of an utterly enormous giant sloth was enough to keep us all interested for a few hours. The benefit was made all the more noticeable by the school trip that was taking place at the same time - six or more children were allocated to each adult, so the attention and knowledge had to be split six ways (OK, so Christopher was outnumbered two-to-one, but hopefully we weren't too overbearing in our enthusiasm!).

Here are a few mini-pictures from the Zoological Museum (click for larger):

Crocodile Angry Badger! Christopher and a giraffe Some dressed-up fleas

Tree CathedralAfter we'd had a sandwich in the little café, we headed back toward Dunstable, to see the Whipsnade Tree Cathedral. It's really quite difficult to describe, as it's a cathedral in concept rather than true form, with trees and hedges forming the aisles and trancepts. Having seen the website, and studied the map in more detail, I'd like to revisit it, to gain a better appreciation of the ingenious design.

Tree CathedralOn our way to the Zoological Museum, we had passed Pitstone Windmill; before we climbed the hill to Whipsnade (fortunately under the power of four wheels - it's very long and steep!) we parked up and walked through the field to take a closer look. Unfortunately, it's not open to the public at this time of year, but it was still informative to see how the earliest windmills (from 350 years ago) were constructed.

We concluded our outdoor adventure in the more familiar surroundings of Ashridge country park. We had brought our little "bug collecting" kit, which includes a primitive pooter and set about digging around for insects. We actually found quite a haul, including tiny flies, wriggly caterpillars and the longest millipede I've ever seen (it must have been 2 inches long). When Beth handed the pooter to me at one point, though, I didn't notice that one of the straws was a bit close to the bottom, and managed to suck a couple of bugs into my mouth. I'm not very good with creepy-crawlies, so you can imagine the look on my face as I tried to get rid of them as quickly as possible. I can still taste it now.. eurgh.

We walked around the bridleway that surrounds the park, and maybe I was still a little bewitched by the collection of animals at the museum, but I am sure I saw some kind of hawk, flying between the trees. Possibly just my fanciful imagination, I suppose.

After a quick trip back to civilisation (Asda and Dunelm Mill) we collected Ella, who had enjoyed the day away from her brother (she'd popped in to see her Grandad at work during the afternoon, where she was well fussed over - she loves the attention!) and came home. Now that was a fine home education day.

Links of the day:

Posted by james at March 15, 2005 10:22 PM

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