Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Learning in the little big classroom of our bus and the world

I decided tonight that I need to write more often about this trip and my thoughts on stuff generally. That last post was eye-wateringly long and probably asking a bit much of anyone to read all the way through. If you read every single word then thanks, it's nice to know somebody does!

I'll make it easier for y'all from now on though - promise!

Just quickly - we headed up north a bit again 'cos we got itchy feet and wanted to make a trip to figueres since it had been chucking it down on the day we were going to go, and were rewarded with the wonderfully surreal theatru museu de salvador dali. It's a pretty bonkers museum hand-made by the moustachiod weirdmeister himself.... what a playful, random, slightly disturbing, breath-taking, eye-brow quivering, eye-ball popping place. Well worth a detour back towards France. Due to an all-day faff  we wound up being camped up in a cheesy seaside town called Roses, which the kids think is brilliant. Today I build a proper motte 'n' bailey mega sandcastle on the beach with Alf and we had a blast. Ignoring the cheesy appartment blocks I sat on the beach and squinted past them taking in the beauty instead of the absolutely beautiful mountains behind the monstrous 80's concrete mess, and marvelled at the huge fluffy simpsons cloudy blue perfect sky and made my made peace with the fact it's naffsville. We had sun and a sandy beach. Ok for a night and a day. And as I said - the kids think this campsite is fab! I'm not sure the elderly german people in the immaculate caravan next to us are quite so thrilled with having us lot here with our illicit washing line, barky dog, and the other four mental bundles of energy with their dirty faces and wild hair. They look at us like we're the scum of the earth. Maybe we are. I tried to smile and say hey but they remain stony faced in their caravan with no curtains. Ach some people are no fun. Oh well - we're outta here in the morning with freshly laundered clothes to boot. Back to Barca - woop woop!

So anyway, I wanted to write a bit about how the kids are learning and some cool stuff that has tied everything together nicely.

Before we left I packed a bunch of books n stuff for the kids to do/to play with whilst we were away. I didn't bring any workbooks. Instead we brought things which we thought would be interesting, inspiring and would feel natural. Strewing on the road if you like.

I packed them

Asterix in Spain - cunning, eh?
Aquila mag - March 2012 issue all about.... Spain!
Carcassonne board game
Asterix and Cleopatra DVD (Did I mention already how brilliant this is?)
Asterix and Obelix take on Caesar DVD (Annoying voiceovers but the kids insist its funny)
The girl with the pony tale -Laurence Anholt
Camille and the sunflowers - Lawrence Anholt

As well as a bunch of other board-games.
They packed their own stuff too.

I am astonished by the leaps and bounds the kids have come on they've come on since they got phones. Finn and Herbie got them for their birthdays this year since they go off to the park nowadays to play and they cost the same as an mp3 - Pete being the techie that he is decided there was no point buying something as singularly useful as an mp3 player - why buy that when you can do so many other things with a phone? Everywhere we go, the boys suss out the wifi status and compatibility...which can be a bit annoying as we are now we are into plug wars, lead wars, whose charging what where wars! But on the upside they're taking pictures a lot with them and enjoying playing things together where they link up their phones so I don't actually mind it too much. They're outdoors running around a lot playing in the sunshine and being dragged around a bunch of cultural sights so it all balances up.

Herb has spontaneously taken to writing whole paragraphs up in the 'notes' section of his phone, on games ideas. He surprised me the other day by showing me this great long thing he'd written with only one or two spelling mistakes. Wow! He's barely written more than a sentence or two in succession before. Never really needed to or wanted to I guess. But now he had a need, and so it came easy peasy, with only  little help. How do you spell this word mum? Is this how you spell pyramid? Do I need an apostrophe thingy here?  Finn is enjoying texting people back home......whatever happened to postcards, eh? The phones are a blessing and a curse!

One thing that has impressed me has been the kids ease with working out how much moolah they have in euros, from one lot of pocket-money to the next, calculating things on the hoof in different combos. Sometimes playing out as many as five or six spending scenarios between them. Pocket-money spending becomes a communal affair between them with much debating, reckoning, persuading each other to buy this or that. They've gotten into the habit of working things out so easily it's quite reassuring that their mental arithmatic has seamlessy adapted to the whole euros thing.

Same with language. We're in France? No problem. We'll speak French to whoever we meet! Oooh we're in Spain now? Hola amigos!

They see mama having conversations with others in French, English, bits of Spanish, bits of German, Bits of Polish. They don't bat an eyelid. This evening we went out for Tapas in a bar run by a Franco Spaniard and his Latvian wife, with whom I spoke a mish-mash of French and Polish, with the international language of smiling, arm-waving, eye-brow wiggling and laughter. If you want to be understood, you make it work. The kids are seeing that in action.

So much of what they're learning is that we're interdependant. We're a team in a small space. That nobody's perfect. That no place is perfect. That problems arise, which we solve.... mostly with gaffa tape! Hahaha.

They're learning that the world is a big wide place, all from the tiny hub of our family's tiny bus. It's a funny old world and wherever you are, people are nice, some not so nice, some places are nice, some not so nice, some days are good, some are bad, some foods are good, some are bad. That where there's water and warm weather there's mosquitos and ants. No good without bad.

Yin and yang.

We could of course learn all this at home. But this place is fun for now, and it's as good a place as any.

Wherever we go, we're learning all the time :-)

Adios for now!

haha - just remembered my promise not to write anything eye-wateringly long - oh well.


  1. Well I for one am loving reading your long posts because its all so interesting that I never realise how long it actually is!! I can't think of a better way to learn than how you are right now to be honest. It almost seems like the boys are learning without "realising" which is no mean feat haha! Can't wait for your next post! Xxx

  2. Just caught up on your exciting adventures! Sounds completely fabulous! So happy for you all. :)
    Enjoy your travels xxx

  3. This is the first post bt you that I have read. It sounds like you are having a great time.

  4. Hola!! Do keep writing, I'm enjoying hearing how you're enjoying your ride!
    Sam xx

  5. Hola friends, welcome one and all, lovely to hear from you :-) Please do join up with me along the rest of the trip, it's nice to be able to share it and I love hearing from you - nice to have some contact with home through this here portal! :-) Love MF X
    P.S. We're back in Barca, will write more soon