First fire autumn 2012…

The first day of autumn and also the Autumn Equinox – when the period of night and day are meant to be in exact alignment.

It just so happened that this was the day we got the fire and chimney swept and fixed. The guy took about 30 minutes to sweep the chimney, clean out the stove, replace the back fire brick, fix the turning plates and replace the smoke rope. Bargain.

Claire also applied the stove polish all over it to protect it from rust, while me and the boys got a full stack of firewood in from the end of the garden. So we’re now enjoying toasty wood fires again! : )



Road through trees…

Great image…


Flame retardant sky lanterns…!

After calling at least 10 different companies, I finally tracked down the right product, from a company who could get it to me the next day! I was looking for a standard flame retardant liquid spray, which could be used to flame-proof the sky lanterns for our small Autumn Equinox party tomorrow.

Obviously this was a last minute idea and we already have bought sky lanterns, but I thought it would be a fun activity for some of the older children. Lots of research into lantern design, then into flame-proofing them. This proved to be less straightforward.

I called B&Q, Polya, Hobbycraft, Johnson’s (dry cleaners), Dunelm and Carpetright, but with no luck. Everyone either said you couldn’t get this sort of thing, or that only internet companies would sell it. Great.

So, next I considered natural flame retardants. Lots of sites came up with Borax being suggested, which is commonly a fabric detergent for getting stains out, made up of 100% sodium borate. This was also not readily available from anywhere, including Wilkinsons, Boots, Tesco and Sainsbury’s – yes I called them all! I even found the Borax product which Tesco used to sell maybe 3 years ago!

So, I checked what sort of products we had in the house. The one that I noticed was vinegar. Not sure why I thought this might work, but I checked this in Google and one of the first articles to come up referred to people in the time around 300 BC using vinegar on wood frame buildings to treat them against fire. Promising start.

So I tested this with a sheet of paper soaked in vinegar. This is still drying but i’ll see if this works later on.

Finally, I spotted a website which had the flame retardant spray but with next day delivery, if phoning before 3pm! It was 3pm when I looked at the site! I called them straight away and they said they would check the courier and call back. They did back, but had just missed the courier, but he was going to another factory next where they would try and catch him! He called back saying that they had missed him again, but had just put a next day delivery Royal mail sticker on and sent it straight to the sorting office, so are hopeful of getting it to me by tomorrow!

What a stress out. All because making sky lanterns would be a great activity for the kids for the party! The two fall back options are the sky lanterns we already have + the more young-child friendly activity of decorating glass jars with autumn coloured tissue paper. There’s also roasting marshmallows on the fire, so all is not lost!


Autumn tree…

As a memory creation of autumn, we’ve all been collecting loads of leaves from parks and the garden etc. I love all the colours and shapes and it always inspires me to think about creating things.

There are 3 things which i’ve been thinking about + making with the kids.

The main thing is our autumn tree, which i’ve now finally hung on the wall. This was started on Monday, when I cut up lots of pieces of leaves into squares. These were going to make up the trunk and branches, but in the end, these were used for something else! It just turned into a stick everything on the sheet without Jac either eating, smearing on the walls, licking, dipping hands into or feeding to the cat – the PVA glue!

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Both boys practised with scissors and helped to cut up bits of leaves. Bit of a race against time on the final picture, with Jamie squirting the glue onto the trunk outline and branches and me sticking the leaves down. Good team work there and Jac did help with the glue brush!

The two other things are both related to autumn leaf colours. The first is to make a collage of colours with square cut outs of varying coloured leaves. This would make a patchwork of colours, textures and shapes. I pressed the squares between some heavy books just to make then lie flatter to the page (in my notebook).

The second thing is to use a sequence of coloured leaves from our apple tree to make an artwork. I’ve collected a range of apple tree leaves, ranging from green to brown and maybe titled ‘autumn decay’ which shows the literal progression from life to death. I’m going to scan maybe 8 of the selection and then crop those images to produce a series of vertical rectangles, which will be randomly sorted into a single picture.


Westonbirt Arboretum / end of illness…

We drove down to Westonbirt Arboretum yesterday, on a perfect autumn day. This is one of the reasons it’s my favourite season – clear, crisp days with lots of sun and the changing colours in the landscape.

Although we’re still not completely over the colds we’ve had, we needed to get out. I’d only been out once in over a week – I think my eyes had adapted to near-sight living. It’s a 45 min drive from Gloucester and it’s near Tetbury, so lots of nice Cotswold scenery on the way. We also have the family season ticket things, which we got last year, which gives us free entry to Westonbirt and Batsford Arboretum.

Anyway, we got there and there was a sea of cars. It seems everyone else had the same idea. No problems parking but we were just a short walk away from the main facilities. We walked through the old arboretum and saw some amazing maple trees, in full red autumn colour!

The boys were loving running around exploring, running under tree canopies and collecting leaves. It’s a very good time to go right now as there are still leaves on the trees and plenty of colour. We got some great photos and the light was excellent and clear.

We looped around to the main centre, where the kids playground area is. Always good fun and we got a sneaky tea and cake in. Finally there are some play areas in the woods, near to the centre, where there are various buildings and huts, which you can add to or just build dens. Lots of random wood piles and logs etc and further around there is a brilliant balancing network of planks.

Glad we went and we’re both feeling more vital now. It’s an amazing feeling having some energy again after more than a week.


Nice day off…

Nice day on Monday. Claire took the day off and we went over to the main park and into town (after eco surveyor had been).

Clear and mild autumn day with amazing light. Pics taken with Nokia phone camera. Random blue light is in the toilet right by the playground!