My Art Book of Love

Posted on September 24th, 2018 -

We have been looking at some very grown up fine art pictures made beautifully simplistic and contextual for children in the new nonfiction book from Phaidon called My Art Book of LOVE.  If you stop for a moment and think about how you might explain Love to a young child, it is really quite a challenge. That’s because Love can be a mix of emotions and senses. This clever book uses famous works of art through the ages to try to convey a true meaning of Love in a way children can understand. Read on to discover more and how you can win yourself a copy of the book.

My Art Book of Love  

Celebrate love in all its forms

My Art Book of LOVE takes the reader on an illustrative journey to explore the concept of Love.  Through famous artists love is made relatable in the book. Each section begins with a different way to think of love such as Love is…. love feels ….. Love looks like, love makes you….. There are 35 artworks used and each shows its title and artist as well as how it helps explain love. From modern sculptures to paintings from Vincent van Gogh and Picasso all genres and forms are covered.


Pages from My art book of LOVE

What we love

For a family with an artistic appreciation this book is a great way for children to be introduced to some great works of art. For those with a less cultural appreciation this clever book gives a real insight into what the artist might have been trying to portray as well as aptly suggesting the elements of love.

Need to know

Retail Price £14.95

Stockists, wordery, Amazon, 

Age Range 3 – 6
Author Shana Gozansky



Size: 190 x 146 mm (7 1/2 x 5 3/4 in) 
Pages: 48 pp
Illustrations: 34 illustrations 

Win your copy of My Art Book of Love with Phaidon and Coombe Mill

For your chance to bring a rich awareness of Love to your little ones and an appreciation of fine art why not enter to win a copy of this beautiful book. Simply follow the instructions below.

My art Book of Love Giveaway


We were sent our copy of the book for the purpose of this review. It is available for Coombe Mill holiday guests to borrow from the Games Room book shelves. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

University of Sussex for one Fresher

Posted on September 22nd, 2018 -

Last weekend saw many 18 year olds head off for their first term at University. For us it was Felix who was about to sample university life for the very first time. The excitement, the anticipation, the 2 years of A level studies all building up for a new life with so many hopes and fears. Sussex was his first choice, not an easy journey from Cornwall, but helpfully just 4 miles from his Grandmother. This was certainly a benefit for Nick and me as we had somewhere local to spend the night and make sure Felix had all he needed for the term.

Apologies for the average photo quality, they are all phone snaps.  I never intended to make the post, but how could I not record such a significant event.


Sussex University Campus

Halls of Residence at Sussex University

A good feeling

Right from the prospectus and the open day Felix was sold on Sussex. It has a lovely campus feel to it with everything on one site from bars to lecture rooms and even a bank and a shop.  Arrival was made very simple and we had Felix’s room key in minutes. With 12 students to a floor in his halls of residence sharing just 1 kitchen, 2 showers, 2 loos and a bath they were all going to need to be very sociable very quickly.  This was no problem and the kitchen soon became the meeting hub as everyone arrived.

Felix’s Halls of Residence

Halls of Residence at Sussex University


Lets Party

We left Felix there for his first night, the girls on his floor already filling him in on the wrist bands he needed for the evening party at the Student Union.

Home for the next year

Felix in halls of residence at Sussex University


Thankfully we had plenty of extended family in Sussex to take our mind of things that first night over a balmy autumn garden BBQ.


Drinks in the September Sun

And so 8 becomes 7

A week on and life is sweet for Felix who is making the most of Fresher’s fortnight. Of course I’m missing him already; his siblings not so much, we came home to room chaos back in Cornwall as Theo called “shotgun” on his bedroom and the ripple effect of this filtered down to the smallest room now being redecorated for Felix in the holidays.


Two years ago it was our Eldest going off to Cardiff for University. Early in his second year he decided it wasn’t for him and came home. He is now happy here perusing a career in carpentry (he was studying economics), we have learned so much from his experience and hope that Felix has made the choices that will see him through a happy 3 or 4 years at Sussex. He is studying Marketing management with psychology, but I’ve encouraged him to gate crash a couple of other lectures in the first week to be sure he has made the right choice.  


Blackberry Biscuits and Stick Pencil Writing  

Posted on September 21st, 2018 -

Every year when blackberry season comes round I can’t resist a little baking fun with the kids here. However I have made our yummy blackberry muffins so many times I was keen to try something new. My other easy to make recipe is biscuits and I figured a few blackberries squished in would add a new dimension to a classic recipe.  To this we added a little fun pencil making and blackberry juice ink for some creative nature writing.

Blackberry Biscuits and Stick Pencil Writing  

Blackberry picking

Before any of the activities could start we needed to go blackberry picking. I knew all the best places that had escaped Farmer Nick’s careful pruning this summer and we headed off with collecting punnets.

Blackberry picking

We washed the blackberries. Next the children helped to shape the dough into rounds and place them on baking trays before pressing blackberries into the dough balls.

Making blackberry biscuits

Our mix made 2 large trays which went into the oven to cook.

Making blackberry buscuits

Blackberry Ink

While the biscuits cooked, we put the rest of the blackberries through my old fashioned hand held cheese grater to create blackberry ink.


Making blackberry juice

Stick pencils.

Sticky fingers were washed and the children ran off to find sticks they could turn into pencils in the fairy gardens.


collecting sticks in the fairy garden


Decorating pencils was great fun. We used coloured floristry ribbon and wool and then took them to Theo who whittled the ends with his penknife into a nib for writing. The smaller sticks fitted into a pencil sharpener which was even easier.


Whittling and decorating stick pencils

Blackberry writing on recipe cards

Then came the fun part; Everyone took a piece of card and stuck the biscuit recipe in the centre, before dipping the decorated pencil nibs in the blackberry ink to add writing and pictures. Some ribbon around the edge completed the cards and made a lovely keepsake and holder for the pencils.  


Blackberry ink recipe pictures


The only thing left to do was to sit back and sample our blackberry biscuits.   


Blackberry biscuits

Recreate Blackberry biscuits and stick pencil writing at home

This would be a fun and educational activity to recreate from a family blackberry picking walk.

What you’ll Need

Blackberries and a pencil shaped stick collected from a walk

Biscuit ingredients: Flour, butter, sugar

Something to squish the blackberries for ink (we used an old fashioned cheese grater)


Sharp knife or pencil sharpener for the stick.

Card to write on (we used a cereal box cut up)

Educational Benefits


Cooking health and safety and lessons


The opportunity to explore writing through the ages  

Suitable ForAge 4 – 12



The Bear, the Piano, the Dog and the Fiddle

Posted on September 17th, 2018 -

You have to love a good story with a real moral behind it. Lincoln Children’s Books, part of the quarto Group, have brought a real tear jerker to market with the Bear, the Piano, the dog and the Fiddle. Written by David Litchfield, this book is a follow up to his award winning book, the Bear and the Piano. If ever there was a case for true friendship lasting the test of time then this story is it. A dear story, a fun plot and a real test of friendship that children and parents will adore.  Read on to discover more and for your chance to win a copy.

The Bear, the Piano, the Dog and the Fiddle

Story Overview

Friendship is put to the test when the old fiddle player feels his moment to make it big time in music has passed him by in favour of a rather famous bear. However his little dog has a trick up his sleeve. The Fiddler is astounded at his little dog but also feels a pang of jealousy and doesn’t always do or say the right thing. However they are best of friends, and in the end friends look out for each other, even if years have passed in between.

Pages from The Bear, the Piano, the Dog and the Fiddle

What we thought.

We loved the storytelling with the special bond between the Fiddler and his dog. The story is backed with beautiful and numerous illustrations throughout to lead you through each scene and is the perfect length for a bedtime story with a happy ending and a morale tale.

Need to Know

Format Hardback, 40 Pages
Size:8.661 in x 11.811 in / 220 mm x 300 mm
PublishedSeptember 6, 2018 by Quarto Knows
Retail price£11.99
StockistsQuarto Online, Amazon, Wordery, Waterstones


Win your copy of The Bear, the Piano, the Dog and the Fiddle

For your chance to win this heart warming tale, simply follow the instructions below. Good luck to all taking part

The Bear, the Piano, the Dog and the Fiddle Book Giveaway


We were sent our copy of the book for the purpose of this review. Out copy can be found in the Coombe Mill games room library for our holiday guests to borrow. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

Creating Illusion and exploring perspective at the beach

Posted on September 15th, 2018 -

I can’t resist a little beach art when I have time on my hands at our local beach.  Simply stacking rocks and pebbles creates a fun photo and is a great balancing act. Initially I planned to just photograph the rock stack, before it became a shooting target for the kids. However an idea came to me as Jed was hovering in the distance. He is often the one who ends up photo bombing my pictures but this time he gave me a great idea. Perspective was something he had struggled with as a child and I really wish I’d thought to do this with him then. However this was my chance to demonstrate that mystifying concept of perspective again and create a clever illusion at the same time.  

It’s just an illusion

I explained what I was trying to achieve. He began by just reaching out with an arm. I showed him on playback and he chuckled at the illusion of him adding the last rock to the stack. Tickled by the effect he was game for trying a little more. We opted for climbing the stack. While the end result isn’t perfect, it gives the idea.

Jed adding the final touches to my Rock Stack

Jed finishing rock sculpture

The rock stack photo I originally planned

Creating Illusion and exploring perspective at the beach

Creating illusion and exploring perspective as Jed threatened to photo bomb my rock stack photo. 

Illusion of Jed climbing rock sculpture

This little bit of fun photography has inspired me to experiment further in the future with perspective and illusion. I have wound perspective into our activity hour sessions with the children staying here in the past and separately tried rock stacking in the river. I think I will revisit both again next year with a little photo illusion fun added too.

Have you ever tried creating illusion and exploring perspective with photography?   

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