Saturday, February 24, 2007

Away Days

We had a nice little mini break in the middle of week, staying at a hotel for two nights in Droitwich. Yes, I know, the glamour!! Was it the ancient history of Droitwich that seduced us, or the modern technological marvels, or the vibrant arts scene? Er, no. It was mainly the fact that Droitwich is approximately half way between Cadbury World and West Midlands Safari Park. So, shameless tourists that we are, that's where we visited.

Cadbury world was interesting and fun, although extremely expensive for what it is, since it's not even a full day out. Half way round I remarked to Jon about how generous they were being with freebie chocolates (having accumulated a whole carrier bag full). That was when he pointed out how much we'd paid to get in (I'd been in the loo during the credit card handover), lol. Guess they could afford to be flippin generous at those rates. The day before we went, I'd rung to book tickets due to their website insisting that tickets had to be booked in advance. The lady on the phone allocated me tickets for 10:20 exactly and made it sound as though if you arrived at 10:21 that was tough luck, no entrance for you. Predictably, we got lost on the way, arrived in the carpark at 10:17 exactly and rushed to the ticket desk in a panic....only to find that arriving, well, any time approximately within that hour would gain you admittance, and even if you arrived hours later, well, they'll still let you in. Thanks. Wish I'd known that before the stressful journey!

Anyway. Emily had a great time there and was very impressed with being allowed to fiddle about with melted chocolate in the demonstration area. She liked the Aztec jungle bit too, and the interactive part where you could watch yourself being "made in chocolate" or dance about like mad on a floor chasing roving creme eggs. Jon and I liked the very interesting, albeit brief, look behind the scenes at part of the packaging plant. Some pics of Emily with one of the Aztec decorations, writing in chocolate and generally faffing about with chocolate (can't remember what she was supposed to be trying to do with it!)

After the crowds at Cadbury World (wouldn't like to be there during school holidays or weekends!) we walked from the carpark to the rather splendid Selly Manor, at which we were the sole visitors! Beautiful tudor manor house full of things to see and do. Really enjoyed that, although we weren't allowed to take any pictures there :-( Emily had a go at juggling and various other tudor style games, dressed up in tudor clothes, tried on some armour, played guess the spice games and lots more.

Next day we went to West Midlands Safari Park. We first went there the week after Emily left school in July 2004 and Emily had been wanting to go back ever since. Just like our first visit, the rain bucketed down for most of day, lol. This has its advantages - the safari park was extremely quiet and when we first drove around the reserves, early in the morning, most of the animals were very active. Only problem was that it was hard to take photos through steamed up windows (in the bits where the windows had to be shut) and through the driving rain. Memorable moments were definitely when a rather over friendly/greedy zebra wouldn't get its head out of the car and when a group of African Hunting Dogs attacked the back wheels of the stationary car, which was parked on a slope, so I couldn't pull away without risking slipping backwards onto them. They had a good old chew! Emily fell in love with the wolves. She has a thing about wolves. I think it may have something to do with her obsession with Remus Lupin from Harry Potter, lol.

We got absolutely soaked walking around the rest of the park after lunch, but it was lovely.

There followed a horrendously long and traffic filled drive all the way home in the dark which took twice as long as the drive down to Droitwich had. Never mind, we got back in the end.

Yesterday, Emily spent the day looking at the issues surrounding zoos and safari parks, researching on sites like Born Free and as well as looking at websites of various zoos and safari parks to see what they themselves have to say about the issues. She worked out a long list of pros and cons to zoos/safari parks with arguments and counter arguments put by both sides, noted the emotive language and photos used to "sell" each side of the story, and weighed up her own opinion. She also looked at the differences between zoos/safari parks around the world and how some countries have much stricter legislation and public tolerance levels than others. At the end of the day she produced a notebook page with the main points on it.
The tooth fairy paid us a visit yesterday too, as a tooth of Emily's that had been hanging on by a (fairly bloody at times!) thread for....ooooh, ages....finally gave up and slipped out painlessly in her sleep. Meanwhile, the BBC have decided that they do want to renew my contract, so that's something. I spent some time looking into various educational resources, and found myself drawn to the US which of course has a massive amount of home education stuff compared to the UK.... and became heartily sickened by the religious dogma in some of the US resources, where it appears not even basic addition can be studied without a bit of Bible brainwashing thrown in; geography can't be studied without an emphasis on missionaries and heathen natives; and don't even get me started on the so-called science. I just don't get it. If you have a strong faith, bringing your child up to learn about that faith is natural, I guess, but why does it go to such extremes? I just don't see how ramming something down a child's throat to that extent can possibly be healthy, or fair. Anyway. I found and joined a Secular Homeschoolers yahoo group, which so far has been full of interesting resources I didn't know about before. So there is hope for home educating heathens like me :-)

Oh yes, and I finally got round to colouring my hair purple. Well, purple-ish. :-))


Jax said...

photo of purple hair please?

There's a secular unschooling blog in the states that I particularly enjoy, although I wouldn't recommend it for the faint of heart as Doc is quite direct in her ways of expressing her opinions.

Good kick off point for resources though.

Elle at Ellesfuntimes said...

Great photos - and all that chocolate - oooh yum yum. Yes, like Jax has said, photo please! Elle

Nikki said...

Lol, Jax and Elle - hair's not as purple as I thought it would be when I was typing the blog (while the colour was still on). It's more red than purple now, I guess, but it still makes a change. Great blog link, Jax, thanks.