Once The Composer’s birthday celebrations were almost over we embarked on our first family ski trip.  It was so much more than we could have wished for…a surprisingly easy journey, stunning views, bright sunshine, just enough snow…oh and great skiing!

I proposed that our trip to France be ‘lent-free’ and the whole family swiftly played a ‘get out of lent free card’ for the week…which for me meant plenty of bread, very tasty french cheese and the occasional glass of vin rouge.  The freshly baked baguettes were irresistible and Reblochon is my new favourite fromage with Beaufort and Tomme de Savoie both close runners up.  The children indulged in countless chocolat chauds and we all dipped into après ski pomme frites.

From the resort we skied over to Italy and the views were stunning…

Back at the Headmaster’s House we are preparing for the busy Summer term, but still with our minds on Easter celebrations and the Royal Wedding…the Artist is designing red, white and blue cake decorations (click here for some inspiration) and of course there will be plenty of bunting!

{Just finished reading Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and can’t wait to hear your thoughts…I’m guessing May’s book club is going to be quite opinionated!}

March Book Club

March 15, 2011

Last night’s meeting was a great success. We were low on numbers but this didn’t matter a bit. That’s not to say we didn’t miss our regular dear readers! Really looking forward to catching up in May (see the reading list below). We delved deep into the book and our discussion raised lots of strong opinions and thoughts about Room by Emma Donoghue. The book was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize last year and has featured on many book club reading lists…have a listen to the author discussing Room on the Radio 4 Front Row programme.

What a book! An incredibly disturbing and desperate subject matter; a small boy and his mother trapped in a room with no access to the outside world and all this is set in the mind of a five year old. The narration is unique and the grammar takes some getting used to. Some readers raced through parts of the book to see how the story unfolded and then other times found themselves tempted to skip through pages to avoid the horror of their confinement. The author, Emma Donoghue suggests that Jack’s innocence filters the horror and he sets the terms of the story.

Despite the confinement this book is ‘uplifting’; as the story develops you get to know Jack and Ma and their unique mother-son relationship. Ma is intensely protective of Jack; the author brings to your attention the powerful force of nature that exists to protect your child no matter what the circumstances. A few readers felt the author’s message was somewhat forced at times and I think we all agreed we were not entirely certain we would recommend Room to a friend. But as a reader reminded us last night…one of the features of our book club is to read titles we may not normally pick up at the bookstore!

Personally, I put off reading Room purely because of the subject matter, then I toughened up and read the book in two days…grabbing any free moments during a weekend to get to the end! I am fascinated by books and stories that push our imagination and how real some can seem…in this instance my protective nature rose up and stopped me imagining what it would be like to be in the place of Jack and Ma. Room was both easy and difficult to read, as ever I am impressed by an author’s achievements and grateful that Room lead to a brilliant book group discussion!

Readers are asked to choose one Classic and one Biography from our May Book Club Reading List…

Persuasion by Jane Austen

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Dreams of My Father by Barack Obama

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Oh, and this one is a must read…Happy Reading! xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

This darling Puppy joined our family a few weeks ago and has kept us all on our toes ever since!

Here are a few things that caught my eye while looking at all things puppy this week.

For the eco-puppy

For the pampered pooch

And something for the dog and owner who appreciate finer things

Jamie Oliver’s Dream School

February 24, 2011

Class of 2nd March 2011…an interesting bunch and I can’t help questioning the selection process for the teachers!

I shall be watching this and taking notes!

Life Lessons from Movies

February 15, 2011

Wise words from Hollywood…

{can you name all 40 films?…the answers are here!}

Guest Author: Rosamund Lupton

February 11, 2011

The best-selling author of Sister joined our Book Club last Monday.  We were delighted to welcome Rosamund Lupton and very keen to hear all about her debut novel which took several years of research, writing and some re-writing, and plenty of determination to reach the prized 3 for 2 tables at Waterstones.  Just days after Sister was published in September 2010, it was picked for Book at Bedtime on Radio 4.  The book became the fastest-selling debut novel at WHSmith and was voted the best book of 2010 by Richard and Judy Book Club readers.

Hats off to Rosamund for her achievements, persisting with a story she believed in…I wonder if any of the book group feel inspired to write after hearing Rosamund’s story?!

We all agreed that Sister was a compelling story; a superb combination of great characters, complex relationships, intriguing storyline and a brilliant twist at the end…all in all a terrific read and one the group would highly recommend.

Look out for her second novel, Afterwards, to be published in June and at this same time Sister will be available in bookstores across the Atlantic.  We wish Rosamund every success and look forward to welcoming her again to Book Club.

Rosamund’s recommended reading for boys and girls is Mr Stink by David Walliams…

Oh My Valentine!

February 6, 2011

Please forgive the indulgent day dreaming I am enjoying today as I research treats for Valentine’s Day…wouldn’t this be heavenly!  {Yes, I know it’s a hefty price tag for a box of chocolates that wouldn’t last very long in my hands, but like I said it’s a thing of dreams and this is not your average box of chocolates!}

…or how about this one with a personal message inside!

Still in my dream state; a romantic afternoon tea at Laduree.

And snap back to reality with a few baking thoughts on Valentine’s Day…doll up simple fairy cakes with butter icing, sprinkles and a fancy flower or bake some heart shaped sugar cookies.

{I found a very clever (and a bit fiddly) contraption on ebay to emboss these heart shaped biscuits with sweet messages.}

These pretty lollipop flowers have inspired The Artist and The Composer to get crafty and make up some valentine’s treats for their school friends and cousins.

The Story Behind Sister

January 31, 2011

As I look forward to welcoming Rosamund Lupton to our book club this evening, Sister is very much on my mind.  Here Rosamund tells of how the story began…

Holocaust Memorial Day

January 27, 2011

Light the virtual candle here.  Some things we wish we didn’t have to teach our children, but at the same time it would be wrong not to…

…says The Artist at every mealtime these days!  She has a new and very enthusiastic interest in planets, asteroids and meteorites.  I need to refresh my memory and these sites are helping…

Bill Nye is Excecutive Director of The Planetary Society…the American professor has a long biography and his many achievements include bringing science to prime time TV in America with his show Bill Nye The Science Guy.  The site is full of brilliant science info at every level…check out the one page printable experiments under ‘For Kids and Teachers’ here, we had fun with Twisting Tornado and Baseball Moon.

Science With Me believe that positive experiences with science at an early age will build scientific confidence that lasts a lifetime {‘hear, hear’ says The Headmaster!}.  Science With Me is packed with loads of great resources for young children and best of all it offers bite size science for busy parents.

Meanwhile, Google are searching the world for talented young scientists…