Art fun with the kids

A few weeks ago I became aware of a local activity that was starting to gain in popularity.  I think I stumbled across it in a post in facebook.  It’s called Rammy Rocks and involves painting on small rocks and pebbles and then leaving them for other people to find.  It’s not unique as there appear to be groups all over the country (if not the world) that have taken to leaving lovely messages on stones for people to find.

This one has really taken off in the local area, with a couple of talented Mums using this to get their children being creative and getting them outside.  Rammy Rocks seems to have captured the imagination of hundreds (if not thousands) of local residents.  and it’s not limited to the children either, there are loads of talented artists painting little rocks and hiding them about for people to find.

I, personally, am loving this craze.  It’s great fun to go out and find some pretty stones while on a walk.  So we’ve been doing a fair bit more walking over the last couple of weeks.  It’s a shame the weather has been so rubbish as we would have liked to get out a bit more.  (So it’s been great for getting Alice away from her tablet and minecraft and it’s doing me some good too).

We had a couple of snow days from school which meant we missed World Book Day (much to Alice’s disappointment), so I decided we would make the most of it and paint some book inspired rocks to hide later.

I have to say Alice’s are far superior to my efforts!  Her Matilda and Wimpy Kid rocks are quite brilliant.

We have great fun hiding the rocks too.  Alice rather likes to give them to people rather than hide them for other’s to find, so several of our efforts have been left on doorsteps of her friends.

We will be painting and hiding more over the next few weeks as well as going out and about to find some more.  As we have a trip to Southampton planned for the Easter holidays I think we might be finding some to take down there.  I’m also working on Alice’s Brownie leader to get them to make some to hide in the local park and woods.

It’s great to see all the posts from people when they find them and I’m not sure whether I’m more excited to find a great rock or to see one of mine that’s been found!

I hope we get some more nice weather soon and we can get out to hunt for rocks again soon.

Happy Rocking

xx

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Paint-a-Pot

As we approach the end of the school year, we seem to be on a never ending run of parties – and not just children’s.

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What I am pleased to find is that now she’s seven, Alice’s party invitations have become a bit more adventurous than a soft play centre.  Today we’ve been at Emily’s Paint-a-Pot in Prestwich. Each child was able to choose an animal to paint and was given instruction on how to go about it. It felt far more grown up than the usual running wild amidst screaming kids of all ages! So we left them to it and had a stroll around Heaton Park before the rain set in and we headed back. The party room is upstairs and we could hear squeals of delight along with the traditional rendition of ‘Happy Birthday to you.’ They were all obviously having a great time. We stayed downstairs in the main painting room, where we had a very lovely cuppa and a look at all the drying pots. It’s a pretty little place and they don’t just cater for children. I was intrigued to see they run Pottery and Prosecco evenings. Something I quite fancy, I wonder why?!

Alice really enjoyed her afternoon. She painted a cat and can’t wait for it to be finished off in the kiln.

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It’s a great place to go on a rainy day, and while not a cheap activity, it is something different to what we generally do at home, so it’s definitely somewhere I hope to visit again. Next time I want to have a go too.

Happy crafting
x

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Summer Activities for Children (with Provident)

I know many parents will be dreading the long school summer holidays.  It’s always difficult trying to find enough for the children to do without breaking the bank and/or your own sanity.  I’m in my third summer break from school and I am fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home Mum, so I don’t have to find lots of childcare.  However, I also don’t have much extra cash lying around as we’re a one income family.  So finding cheap or free activities is high on my priority list for the next few weeks.

Of course the activities have to be something to keep my child interested, and we try to do a variety of things each week to stop boredom setting in.  I plan to arrange some ‘home’ days as well as days out.  We might even manage a few full family days a bit further afield, but I’ll have to wait and see if that’s possible.

Summer

So, my first port of call for activities is my local library network.  I consider us quite fortunate in Bury as we still have a relatively good network of libraries around the borough.  I love the annual national Summer Reading Challenge as it keeps up reading for pleasure as well as me not having to buy a pile of books every time we go out.  My daughter is mad on the Rainbow Magic Fairies and the library has been a real godsend as she always finds different ones every time we visit (And it’s only cost me the price of a bus ticket.  She can take out up to eight books at a time and they all count towards the reading challenge.  The website for the Reading Challenge is very interactive with games and puzzles as well as being able to unlock different content as more books are read.    This year’s Challenge is titled ‘The Big Friendly Read’ and is all about Roald Dahl, so this will be a fun set of books to read.  At the end of the challenge – reading six books in the six weeks – it’s great for the child to receive a certificate and possibly some other reward linked to the challenge theme.  I can’t wait to see the Roald Dahl poster.

Roald Dahl Books

While in the library we can find out what other workshops they have on.  We’ve taken part in arts and crafts (in collaboration with the art gallery) and writing workshops with local bookshops and learning centres.  Our local shopping centres also have regular themes over the summer.  The trick here is to avoid the high priced funfair rides and head over to the main gazebo where we take part in any competitions (drawling and treasure hunts) which are mostly free to enter and there’s often a craft workshop or something being sponsored by some of the retailers in the centre.  I love these days out as all the mess is left in the workshop and we come home with a few treats and something we’ve made.

I’ve also found that Pets at Home frequently run animal workshops – ‘My Pet Pals’ .  These give children (and parents) a chance to learn about reptiles, aquatics, insects, wild birds and small furries.  They are free of charge but you need to book a place, so keep an eye on the website for more information in your local store.

Another of our favourite things to do is pay a visit to the cinema.  Our cinema (Vue) runs a film every morning in the holidays at £1.99 per ticket (Mini Morning).  They are usually films coming to the end of their general release but we’ve seen quite a few films this way and at a fraction of the cost.  I’m hoping they’ll be showing ‘the secret life of pets’ over summer, fingers crossed.  Be warned though, it’s probably better going when it’s not pouring down as they can get pretty busy!

On our home days we alternate between enjoying some relaxation time in the garden (weather permitting), playing inside doing something creative.  Summer is a great time for the garden and I plan to do some major garden work this year.  This will include encouraging my daughter to grow some plants of her own.  I’ve bought a couple of packets of radish and spring onion seeds for her to plant.  As they grow pretty quickly she’ll be able to see the fruits of her labours and hopefully it will encourage her to try eating them too!

Radishes

If we do have to spend some time indoors (highly likely in a British summer), then we will undoubtedly get out something creative to do.  I’ve been keeping an eye out for low cost crafting materials and always try to have some available just in case.  There’s quite a lot of choice out there on the high street and you can find something for most budgets.  My favourites for the sheer volume of materials are the large craft jars in the Entertainer (around £10) and Wilko’s selection of boxes (£2 – £15).  Another great kit is the activity bag from craft planet (around £10) and they can be found online and from craft shops.  There are loads of materials and the essential glue as well as ideas sheets and instructions on how to make a project or two.  I like how the projects are aimed at children but all materials are good quality.  We’ve had felt pieces, funky foam, card blanks, coloured card, pipe-cleaners, beads and stickers (to name a few) in the past and I can’t wait to see what’s in the next one.  It’s always great fun to empty out the contents and start making.  These bags even come in boys and girls versions.

Craft Bag

My last tip is to start collecting small boxes, tubes, yogurt pots and bottle tops a few weeks before the holidays.  (Yogurt pots make great paint and glue pots).  You never know what these items can be turned into – just search Pinterest and You Tube for ideas – and best of all, anything that hasn’t been used can be given to your local nursery or reception class in September.

www.creativemeinspiredyou.com

www.creativemeinspiredyou.com

Don’t forget to do some baking too. Some scones, biscuits or cupcakes make great treats for a picnic, whatever the weather!

Vanilla Fairy Buns

Vanilla Fairy Buns

I’m looking forward to the holidays and I hope you have a great summer whatever you get up to.

Happy Holidays
x

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#Carvoeiroboxes Part 2

Taking a little break from all the thank you card orders, I decided to have a browse through my mobile phone snaps.  This reminded me of the lovely bright #carvoeiroboxes I saw on holiday.

So I’ve just done a bit of searching online and found this fabulous blog all about them, when and by whom they were painted.  It would seem I was wrong as they are electricity cable boxes not phone cables as I first thought.  Anyway, they are on a blog about the Algarve, simply called Algarve Blog!

There are some amazing designs, only some of which I managed spot on my trip.  I wish I’d made more effort to locate and photograph them all now.

I think my favourite is the chilli pepper one, it looks great outside the restaurant.

20160514_151701I have no idea how many of them there are now, my guess is around sixty or seventy by now.  I’m sure more have been painted since the original blog post back in December 2015.

That reminds me, I must contact BT to see if they would be interested in doing something like this.  I love the idea of having local artists paint each box, maybe something along the lines of the cow parade (2004/5) or the lambananas in Liverpool (2009). My cousin was chosen to put her design onto one of the Superlambananas back in 2008.

These initiatives really brighten up the area and give people a chance to look around the place with a new perspective.  So I’d better get contacting some people!

Happy crafting
x

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#Carvoeiroboxes

Wow.  It’s hot!  The weather has really changed now and I am struck by the vibrancy of all the colours around the town.

On my walk the other day I noticed some of the telephone cable boxes had been painted.  So I’ve been looking round on my trips out in the evening to see if I could find any more.  I have not been disappointed.  It would appear that all of the boxes have a different design on them.

20160514_152338It’s fabulous, really makes a feature of them and they certainly don’t look dull or boring anymore.  They all the hashtag #Carvoeiroboxes on them, so I’ll have to look that one up later.  I told my husband about them and he reckons I’m only interested because I’m still a phonebox nerd since working at BT in the 1990s.  I’m not so sure.

20160514_151821These are a great local resource as well as a necessity in the world today, so why not use them as an art gallery?!

The pictures I have taken of a few of the boxes I’ve seen, I think are rather lovely and very cheerful.

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I might suggest this to BT when I get home.  What do you think?

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Happy painting
x

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Half Term Art

This half term we’ve been lucky to all have the week off and we decided on doing some new things as a family.

So on Monday we were up and out early for a trip out to the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. I last went there when I was doing my art GCSE, back in around 1987/8, so I was looking forward to seeing all the changes. It was not really a surprise to find it nothing like I remembered. The galleries are really bright and airy, and the exhibitions are full of thought invoking pieces of art and sculpture. One of the most interesting pieces was a large cave-like structure adorned with knitting and crochet. It was very spookily lit, which made us think it was an old cave filled with cobwebs – very appropriate for this time of year. However, we were informed by one of the staff that it was actually the ‘Womb Room’ and with the low lighting inside it felt very warm and cosy.

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As it’s half term, there were several activities on offer for children. We opted for the ‘art hamper’ where we filled a small picnic hamper with art supplies and found an inspiring spot to make our own art. We decided on a bench overlooking the art garden and we all came up with something unique! It was great to do some drawing again, I realised it’s been a very long time since I actually sat down to draw a still life. But we all had fun and came away with our own piece of art.

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We finished the visit with the ‘welly walk’ around the sculptures in Whitworth Park. The weather was glorious, so we made the most of the dry conditions and played in the leaves, collecting some for possible future crafting back home. The walk involved trying to work out which of sculptures to find, using some slightly cryptic clues. We had great fun and particularly liked the out-of-season snowman and the upside-down trees!

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After lunch we headed off to The Imperial War Museum North, somewhere else I have been previously, but many years ago now. On arrival we were met with another menu of activities for half term, and we found ourselves in a studio doing still life drawing! This time of items from the Second World War. It was great that the parents were also encouraged to take part not just the children. So we all had another go with some beautiful pencils, drawing gas masks, goggles and incendiary bombs! This was all part of the ‘Big Draw’ and the gallery of work was pretty impressive – children and adults.

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We didn’t have anywhere near enough time to see all of the exhibitions, but we did do the Horrible Histories ‘Blitzed Brits’ exhibit, which was very popular with my daughter, even if she wasn’t really understanding everything. She loved doing the activity booklet, following the clues and getting hands on with all the interactive exhibits. It turns out I would have been a bomb disposal expert in the war!! Not sure I would have been any good at that, I see me more as a land girl or knitting socks for the troops.

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It was dark by the time we came out of the museum, so we had a quick walk over the ship canal to Media City, looking in vain for the Blue Peter garden, whilst enjoying the lights and the incredible moon. A quick cuppa in the Lowry while my husband set about taking plenty of arty photos in the dark, and then it was time to go home, thoroughly worn out!

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A great day out which we finished with a chippy tea. I would thoroughly recommend looking into any of these attractions and I think we will be going back to them again very soon. It was brilliant to do so much art too, I will have to see what else is on offer for the Big Draw week.

Happy crafting
x

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