The first hurdle I had to overcome was getting there. Although only an hour or so away by car, I just couldn't picture the route or location. Now I love driving and I will happily drive around all day - but I do get nervous when driving somewhere completely new. I mean, just how will I know what lane to get in, or which roundabout turn off I need?! This nervousness seems to have grown immensely since Lee did all the driving when he was unemployed. During the past 3 years, I have done very little driving and it seems my confidence has taken a knock. I arranged to follow a fellow home-edding family (and fabulous friends, thanks guys!) and they ensured we arrived early and found the Abbey without hiccup.
*Breathes huge sigh of relief*
We met with other families (and there were plenty of them!) on arrival, and after lots of chattering and oh how are you's, the group was called together to see which of the children wished to dress up in Tudor costumes. Chelsea and Tiegan wanted to take part, but neither of my boys did. I was torn between watching what the lads were getting up to in the courtyard and wanting to see the girlie dress up. The girls said the ladies helping with the costumes were really nice, and they talked about what it would have been like in the Tudor times and the different outfits certain people wore.
(faces hidden of those that I don't have permission to post photos of)
Apologies for the quality once again. I rushed to get the pictures done as there were lots of little ones wanting to be in any photo they could - which is lovely, but not when you want to share the pics on the blog!
Once the costume fitting session was over, we had lunch and then headed off to explore the Abbey and grounds.
Isn't this just beautiful?
Loving the home-ed thing of kids mixing with all ages :)
The second hurdle I had to overcome during the day was the most debilitating headache I've ever experienced. I could feel it coming on around lunchtime and just hoped all would be ok and it would be safe for me to drive home - had no option really as the Abbey is in the middle of nowhere!
I had a quick look around the Abbey, and was really impressed with the way the children behaved. I smiled as I watched them, one by one, taking seats to watch the "educational" video. No one had told them to watch it, no one asked them to sit down, but they did so because they wanted to learn more about the place they were in - home-ed at it's best. Shortly afterwards I really couldn't take any more (head was throbbing) and so I tried to persuade Callum to come outside with me as I needed the fresh air. He agreed, but not until we had explored the upper level. Walking up the stairs, we were greeted with this sight...
Now that statue is *huge* and to a little boy it must be gigantic! Callum was very impressed, and whispered "Oh, I think that might be God!!! It's big enough to be God! I think this might be God's house!!!" Bless little ones and their thoughts.
The top floor of the Abbey - partly fitted out to demonstrate life on a ship...
After a quicksie look around, and with me feeling sick and faint, Callum and I retreated outside to sit on one of the benches within the lovely grounds.
Soon the younger boys of the group came outside too and started "war" - obviously sticks were obligatory. Oh what fun they had. Callum joined in once he had checked that I was ok and offered me a drink of his squash.
My eldest three kiddos went off with friends to explore the house themselves. Apparently one of the guides was very impressed and said something along the lines of not seeing such enthusiasm from youngsters their age before. Their thirst for knowledge appears to have been expressed in abundance. Even Tiegan asked questions, which is an enormous leap in confidence levels for her, I'm so proud.
All too soon the time was noticed and no-one had realised it was getting so late (almost 4pm). Hurriedly we packed up our things and headed for the car. That little man within my head was still hammering away, so I asked a friend to pass on the message that I would wait for Tiegan, Chelsea and Joseph back at the car. Panic stations when the friend passed a message back to say they hadn't been seen for 25 minutes...*eeek*. Said friend's daughter was with them, and another girl, so we hastily tried to ring mobiles and track them down. It really wasn't what I needed at that point. Taisia was crying as she had been put in her car seat and the car wasn't moving (an obviously huge sin in her little eyes), Lee rang and I had to explain that we were just about to head for home but needed to find 3 children first...ooops.
After around 10/15 minutes (although it felt like an hour had passed, how does that happen?!), all of the missing party came strolling up to the car park and we could head for home - PHEW. They had been exactly where they had said they would be - inside the house. It seems one of the volunteers just hadn't noticed their presence.
The drive home was, erm, interesting - with me battling the need to be sick and the throbbing head. I just tried to focus on driving and being home soon, but wasn't helped much by dear Callum being so happy and pretending we were riding on a rollercoaster. Imagine a little voice saying "Up up up we go....and down down down" at every incline and decline en route - of which Dartmoor has many. When you are already feeling a little, erm, delicate, well it doesn't help I can assure you. I couldn't bring myself to ask him to stop though as he sounded so blissfully content with life. Reaching home I felt so ill I couldn't get out of the car. When Lee came to help me, I just went upstairs, changed Taisia's nappy and lay on the bed. There I stayed in the dark until 9pm and things started to ease.
All in all, a fabulous day. Just wish I could have been in a better frame of mind to enjoy it to the full. I really want to re-visit soon, as I know I missed out on a huge amount. I didn't get to look at the exhibits, I missed the chapel and the kitchens, and much more. Tiegan, Joseph and Chelsea have been chattering about all that they learnt and witnessed, and I'm quite jealous - but very happy they had a fab time and they obviously took in so much.
2011 is being the best home-ed year yet :)
P.S - Just had to share this little gem of a picture with you.
You just can't take the goth out of the girl...
I LOVE that girl x