Our Unschooled Week #29

Last Saturday we headed across country to Ramsgate in Kent, where we were staying for a press trip.  We had a busy few days, you can read more about what we got up to here and where we ate, here.  We all had a fantastic time and learnt lots.  Sophia will happily tell you about the empty plot across from our B&B window: houses bombed during World War II.

They can all tell you a bit about the Royal Harbour and its role in Dunkirk, not to mention the Viking invasion 1500 years before.

Tatiana became a bit of an expert on the local food scene, and Sophia developed a taste for mid-century furniture.

We learnt lots at the Powell-Cotton Museum, a fascinating place with incredibly dioramas featuring an array of stuffed animals.  Rather macabre, perhaps, but very educational both in terms of seeing the animals up close, but also in a 'how not to do conservation' way!

Dead animals aside, the girls learnt about species classification, the history of exploration, geography, flora and fauna.  They were fascinated by skulls and skeletons, birds, animals and topography.

The galleries of Chinese, Japanese and German porcelain were equally fascinating, with a wonderful collection of netsuke, something both Lara and Sophia are interested in.  (Apologies for the iffy photos, flash not allowed.)

We marvelled at the collection of beautiful glass and porcelain scent bottles, some exquisitely painted, and the very contemporary looking Japanese porcelain.  There was also a wonderful exhibition of some of the work Powell-Cotton's daughters had done in Africa and the things they had recorded and discovered.

The best part was the wonderful hands-on activity centre where we could touch authentic musical instruments, clothes, shoes, and stuffed animals.

Sophia was in her element being this close to nature and fell completely in love with this stuffed Little Owl, which she was utterly enthralled by.  She is still talking about it and sketching it now, fascinated by bones, feathers, claws and beak.

We all took the opportunity to draw and create, and loved the access to such fascinating materials.  I think the girls could quite happily have spent the day there!

How do you fit a giraffe in a box? - and put it back together again!

A really wonderful resource, we would be in this place all the time if it were nearer!

Sophia and Tatiana also learnt lots on our tour of the Ramsgate Tunnels, carved out in 1939 to protect the townspeople from German bombing raids.  At one point over 500 bombs were dropped on the town, so the tunnels carved in the chalk bedrock under Ramsgate saved countless lives.

The girls were fascinated by all of it, from how the people survived in the tunnels: candles, chemical toilets and tiny heaters; to how the chalk itself was carved, and the flint in the walls.

Sophia was particularly interested in the role of the Air Raid Wardens, having met Eric on the way in.  This is one of the warden's stations where they would have checked people coming in to the tunnels at one of the many entrances and exits under the town.

As so many houses were damaged or destroyed by the bombings, many people set up home in an old disused railway tunnel near the beach, and the girls were fascinated to see how they would have made their new 'homes' and achieved some semblance of privacy.

We enjoyed walking round the town and talked lots about the different architecture and other things we saw.  The park was, of course, a big hit with all, especially with lots of dogs to talk to and beautiful blue skies.

Further afield, we explored Broadstairs and Margate, where Tatiana particularly was fascinated by the lifeboat and all they do.

In Margate, Lara made a beeline for the sea, of course, and we had pizza and chips & chips on the sea front.  Best to go with everyone's choices!

On the beach, we watched birds, identified various footprints and trails, dug holes, built camps and found lots of treasures.  The amount of rubbish on the beach was rather depressing, and it felt like a literal drop in the ocean to collect our meagre bin bag full.  (Yep, we're those dodgies who take bags with us for litter picking wherever we are!)

More Georgian architecture in Margate, and some newer additions in the form of street lights and the wonderful-looking Turner Contemporary, sadly closed on our visit.

We came home with sandy legs and collections of beach treasure, the half crab is currently taking pride of place on the side of our bath!

Since we got back from Ramsgate, we have been relatively quiet, with visits to soft play, beaches and playgrounds, but not much else.  We 're watching some documentaries about ancient thinkers, Buddha, Confucius and Socrates, and have finally caught up with Autumnwatch.  There have been lots of 'How do you make...' questions and lots of conversation about everything we saw, did and learned in Kent.  A very productive week!

See you next time. Lx

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