We've passed the mid-week hump of the half-term school holidays and therefore, as many parents will understand, I am eternally grateful to ANYBODY who suggests ways in which I can entertain two terrifying boys. Ok, so we all know I'm a pretty resourceful person, but if you also factor in the harsh reality that I have been doing this parenting thang for almost a decade, then I'm sure you'll forgive me if occasionally I do run out of ideas.
Hence the reason I am feeling the lurrve for a particular somebody today who made sure the Lads and I had an afternoon full of adventure. And a warm, fiery adventure at that.
This somebody's name is Sancha. Now Sancha is already an angel in my eyes as she kindly assists me on my mindfulness course for children each week. The other place lucky enough to have her is Kent's Cavern in Torquay. If you've never heard of it, it is, among other things, a place where you can go to explore 400 million year-old rock caves. It's an absolute historical marvel and brilliant for families to visit. I've been there a few times with the Lads and each time has totally invoked the Indiana Jones in them.
Today Sancha was embracing the stone age theme for half term by delivering fire-making workshops for children and their grown-ups. As soon as she mentioned the words 'fire' and 'making' I knew the Lads would be there with bells on. Cue the swift bashing of my debit card on the Kent's Cavern website and a new thing to do scrawled on the family calendar.
We turned up on this drizzly afternoon, but despite the rain, Sancha would not be deterred. She assured us we'd still all get to make fire just like our cave ancestors, to which an actual fire lit up in both of my Lads' eyes. Oh dear. This could go either way.
First we were shown how to operate the various parts of a 'bow drill' which was a prehistoric form of making a friction fire. Having watched Castaway recently and subsequently being mightily impressed by Tom Hanks' survival skills, my two Lads thought they could whip up some flames in no time.
Not actually the case.
Sancha explained that only one person at Kent's Cavern had been able to light a fire this way, and that had been after two years of trying. Suddenly we all felt a sharp pang of appreciation for our stone age ancestors and the strength and precision they must have had to gain warmth, light and a means of cooking in this way.
But no matter, as Sancha had other techniques in store for us. After a detailed chat about other ways fires were perhaps made (Little Lad was CONVINCED they were made with bones), all of the kids finally got to try out flint and steel, outside, in the rain, with moss and everything.
Poor Big Lad was uncharacteristically patient waiting to use Little Lad's flint and steel and when he finally got round to having a go, all of the other children had finished their fires and he was the only one left. This meant he had a bit of an audience and the pressure to perform was intense. This, combined with the fact that his fine motor skills have never been his strong point (don't worry - he makes up for it with his gregarious personality), meant he walked away from the challenge. Not upset, not particularly ruffled, just unwilling to try any longer.
Sancha gave it her best go to encourage him to keep trying, but in the end started the fire for him. And before you feel in any way sorry for my eldest child, can I just let it be known that afterwards, he not only jubilantly put ALL the fires out with a watering can, but he also doused his brother with water too. *sigh*
And the fun didn't stop there. Sancha being the delightful person that she is, had also arranged for the Lads and I to go on a cave tour straight after the workshop. There was, however, enough time to dash into the gift shop and choose something lovely for her to say thank you for our brilliant afternoon. We chose a swirly glass heart with an orange design, to remind her of the colour of fire.
And one more thing we noticed today that was the colour of fire, was the t-shirt of another little lad attending the workshop. This t-shirt was so perfect for the month of Ramadan and the kindness challenge we are undertaking, that I shamelessly asked his mum if I could take a photo of it for my blog (I may also shamelessly buy a couple of them off the H & M website - it'd be rude not to, right?).
So there we have it. A little spark of kindness from our friend Sancha and she's turned an otherwise grey and drizzly afternoon into a warm, glowing experience for my Lads.
The fire-making workshops at Kent's Cavern are running until Saturday 2nd June
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