Hello and welcome to a brand new month, I hope that you had a good summer break. We took a couple of weeks off from the blog over the summer but that doesn't mean that we were just sat around twiddling our thumbs, far from it! We had lots of mini breaks all over the UK some of which I will be writing about (like today) and we have been busy setting up future surprises for our lovely readers.
This month we have a brand new theme of Knights and Knaves. The UK has an amazing history, history that not only changed and defined our own great nation but then those same ideas spread to many other nations around the world too. As it's the start of a new school term, make sure you get ahead of the game and sign up to our newsletter. It's free and we never sell or share your details, all we do is send you an email every school holiday with some brilliant ideas to keep the kids busy during the school holidays.
One of our little mini breaks saw us visit Warwickshire, the birthplace of William Shakespear and the impressive Warwick Castle. I will cover a very brief history of this fortification below but for now just rest assured this castle is reaped in history and has played a central role in the history of the U.K.
After visiting the castle we exited through the gift shop and decided on buying the Ostrich quill you can see below complete with an ink pot (They were on a special offer). But now I needed to make this simple pen and ink set lots more fun. So I set about getting my daughter excited about creating a story featuring the castle, knights , prince's and a princess. I created the story map opposite to help create a well rounded story, this is a free printable, just click on the picture to print it out. Now we needed some paper to write the story on and I thought it should fit in with the quill and ink that we bought so I showed her how to make old parchment paper, turns out she had already done it in school but we both enjoyed it and it turned out really well. (Continued below)
Warwick Castle has been part of UK history for the past 1000 years (yes thats not a typo, thousand) It all started with Alfred the Great’s daughter Ethelfleda when she put a fort on the site in 914AD. It was one of ten in the kingdom of Mercia aimed at fending off the Vikings. However, most of the remains on what’s called Ethelfleda’s Mound, south-west of today’s castle, date from the later Norman period. Today The more traditional-looking castle that developed into what we we see, was built by William the Conqueror in 1068, two years after the Norman conquest of England, to keep control of the Midlands as he advanced northwards. The castle’s defences were increased in the 1640s to prepare for the English Civil War, when Royalist forces laid siege to the castle. Warwick Castle withstood the attack and was later used to hold Parliamentarian prisoners. Warwick Castle has some links to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. When the conspirators heard their plot had failed, they fled and stole cavalry horses from the stables at the castle to help in their escape.
All in all we had an absolute blast at the castle, make sure you wear comfortable shoes there is a lot of walking. An absolute must see at the moment is the War of the Roses show, not sure how long this show will last. You can take picnics with you and eat them in the courtyard of the castle however we opted to buy food on the day which was pricey and the food was meh, satisfactory. We also had a try at archery which was an additional £5.00 and another highlight was the princess in the tower show. This is a very short 15 min show about a princess who has lost her prince. I thought the princess did a grand job with very few children, all of whom were shy and it's not like she has the time to warm them up into a more responsive audience. The bird show and peacock garden were also great attractions.
How I made my parchment paper, I'm sure there are many more complicated techniques on the web to make parchment paper, but for our use case, this super simple technique is perfect.
What you need:
- A4 paper (I think white card may be better)
- Coffee Granules
- Baking Tray x 2
Pre heat oven, Lay a sheet of paper in a baking tray (we did this in the garden) I mixed a small amount of water with coffee granules until I had a nice dark colour. Pour a little of this over the paper and move the baking tray to make sure the paper is covered. We then sprinkled extra granules over the paper which created some nice darker spots and used a brush to get a more worn effect.
I transferred this first sheet to another baking tray and placed it in the warm oven. I turned the oven off at this point and just closed the door. All you want to achieve here is to dry the paper, you do not want to cook the paper. We found that the paper went quite hard and curled in places but we liked that. I continued this process using extra baking trays and placing them in the oven. We even tried to hang one sheet up on the washing line to dry which worked but the coffee stain wasn't as dark as the oven baked versions and the paper tore a little because of the wind.
Thats it for this week, next week I will be sharing some amazing games for you to try. I would love to see any stories that your little ones come up with so please do take a pic and share them on my social media.