Monday, 6 April 2020


Day 17:

Hi it's Opeie, lately (while not being able to go anywhere) I have been watching Invader Zim, its amazing. My favourite character is G.I.R. he is so cute!!!!! I love his stupidness! so I ordered a plush of him which is coming on Saturday I can't wait! also yesterday while being stuck in I made a LEGO is really strange not being able to go out. my favourite character used to be mini moose so I built him too. I love the DOOM song its so stupid.

If you are reading this I hope you are not too bored in your house. bye.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

“Colours are brighter when the mind is open”.

Day 16:

While Opeie was mark making with inks yesterday he commented on how lovely the water was when cleaning his quill in a glass of water. The blue pigment was really striking and he decided that he wanted to keep it to make 'potions'. This morning while we were sitting eating our breakfast we were looking at the water again and decided to fill a few bottles with different colours for the sun to shine through. A little bit of colour during these strange times is really good for the soul and has made us realise that we can add a lot more little happy colourful touches to the house to make us smile.

Saturday, 4 April 2020

"Toora loora torra loo rye aye"

Day 15:

After buying Becci a pair of dungarees for Christmas I found myself getting a little jealous every time she wore them because she looks adorable in them and they looked so bloody comfy. last week after a bottle of wine I decided to throw caution to the wind and buy myself a pair. Today they arrived and I don't think I'll be wearing anything but these for the remainder of this isolation period. Dungarees are definitely the way forward... or as Becci calls them 'day pyjamas'.

Friday, 3 April 2020

“Garlic bread, it’s the future, I’ve tasted it.”

Day 14:

Since all this self isolation has begun I've food myself really appreciating the little things, like us finally bothering to work out the weight of a pasta portion per person so to not end up with loads left and picking wild garlic while out for our 1 hour daily allotted walk, to make garlic bread with a lovely home made loaf that Becci kindly brought round to us, yum. 

Thursday, 2 April 2020

"The little things made me who I am today"

Day 13:

Just a random robin sitting in a tree as we were out for our daily hour walk. It did a pooh while we were watching it which made Opeie chuckle. It's the little things that really matter these days.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take You Everywhere"

day 12:

I think we've done well so far not to have been bored for too long yet. concentrating on our mental health through all of this, over everything else has meant that a huge chunk of Opeie's learning has been through play. And today we found ourselves in a long drawn out LEGO drama around me trying to stop a wedding in a rainbow coloured monster truck. All ended well after winning back my lady from the sleazy 'captain Elvis guy'.  I love that little dude of mines imagination.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

“Learning never exhausts the mind.”

Day 11:

When all this Coronavirus drama is over and we all go back to our usual routines I wonder how many of us will have acquired new hobbies and skills. It would be a waste to not be trying new things while we are all stuck in our homes and lets be honest if you are anything like me at the moment, anything that can get you back in to bed quicker is a bonus and time really does fly when you are doing something interesting. 

We've started watching some drawing classes and have lots of others to watch on various things. I've also been trying to master the Rubix cube. After a few days I can get this far, which I'm feeling pretty chuffed about. Ive just got to master that top layer now.

Monday, 30 March 2020

"Some people don't like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster."

Day 10:

It would be so easy during these insanely weird times to just lose all hope and fall into a deep emotional pit of stress and worry, and although the last few weeks have affected me deeply (as they have most of us), I'm doing my best to say 'NO!' We need to focus on the love and the laughter. Like eating S'mores with a beard and giving no fluffs about the mess I'm leaving as I eat. This is the new world now people and we need to embrace it or we'll lose our minds.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

"Life is full of banana skins. You slip, you carry on."

Day 9:

If it makes us smile then we need to hold on to it and that is so much more true during these strange times. This photo is really making Opeie smile at the moment so as far as Im concerned it is the most important picture in my phone.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

"Be Excellent to each other, and Party on Dudes!"

Day 8:

It will no doubt be one of the weirdest birthdays that Opeie is going to experience with everything that's going on in the world at the moment but I wanted him to feel just as special when he woke up this morning. Its crazy that 9 years have flown by this quickly and although I clearly didn't envision us spending it in isolation, he's had a pretty lovely day. Despite the current situation the only thing that was missing was him being able to spend it with his friends. As I write this though I can hear him downstairs playing online with his besties, So I'm pretty thankful for technology today.

Also I'm looking forward to the cake.

Friday, 27 March 2020

“Trade your expectation for appreciation and the world changes for you.”

Day 7:

I've been so thankful of the garden over the last few days as we've spent most of our time sat out on the trampoline listening to music, drawing and playing games. As rubbish as this situation is I hope that for many people it really makes them appreciate the space that they do have. People always seem to want more but when it comes to situations like this would 'more' actually mean anything?

I will (as always) be focusing on the important things in life. Like the people that really make this life worth living.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

"Creativity doesn't wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones."

Day 6:

During these crazy confusing times its really important to keep busy, if we don't I think many of us (especially the creative folk) will start to wilt very quickly. We've been concentrating on the creative side of things the most while we've been shut away, as the satisfaction that you get from completing a project or producing a piece (no matter how small) can fill you with all those happy vibes.

We've recently started a couple of online drawing classes and todays character illustration was just what we needed for a self isolation pick-me-uk.

Keep creating people, I think we're going to see some amazing pieces of work off the back of this pandemic and its going to be amazing to see. 

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

I'm a mean green mother from outer space and I'm BAD!!

Day 5 :

If the last few days are anything to go by then LEGO is going to be our saving grace through all of the craziness that we are going through at the moment. It's been our 'go to' to break up the days.

We recently watched Little Shop Of Horrors for Opeie's 80s project that and I think he has become a little obsessed with it. So this morning he asked if we could make an Audrey 2 Lego Brickheadz, obviously I jumped at the challenge and I think it came out pretty well. 

I wonder what we'll be building tomorrow during all this social distancing?

"Feed me Seymour..."

... We may have had to build a Seymour too! 😏

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

"Theories pass. The frog remains."

Day 4:

While we are all in our homes confused about what is going on around us the rest of the natural world are happily living their lives oblivious to the stresses and strains that we are all facing. While gardening today we spotted this happy little frog casually doing its own thing and it really did make the pair of us smile. It made me realise just how much we've got to hold on to these moments of happiness and focus our energy into those to get us through this bizarre time.

Get in your gardens people and make the most of this weather.

Monday, 23 March 2020

"The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind."

Day 3:

Ive not been in the greatest headspace today but the sunshine has really dragged me through it. After  a peaceful walk this morning with Becci and the boys, Opeie and I spent the remainder of the afternoon sitting in the garden building LEGO. I think those magical bricks may just help us through all of this.

If you are doing your part and staying home then stay creative, there's real magic in letting those creative juices flow. 

Sunday, 22 March 2020

"Instead of hate, celebrate."

Day 2:

 I'd like to think that what is happening in the world at the moment will make people take a step back and look at how they have been acting towards people in their lives. As heartbreaking as this situation is it could also be a turning point for fixing those relationships that don't need to be volatile.

It's also important to really make the most of days like mothers day to celebrate and remind us that although dark, its not all bad.

Happy Mothers day all.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

"Do we need distance to get close?"

I've been finding it harder and harder to write over the last few months for various reasons and it has really been getting on my nerves. The world seems to be going to shit and its been taking my motivation and confidence with it. So in an attempt to get my juices flowing and continue documenting our journey for the boys I'm going to post one picture a day to get us through this slump and give us that little bit of sunshine for these dark times. 

Todays picture is from Titterstones Clee, clearly not practising social distancing from each other but doing our best to keep our distance from others. It was one of those days that was good for the soul and we all really needed it. 

Stay safe people.

Monday, 3 February 2020

"There is no better high than discovery."

We should really be getting used to the cold, wet UK weather by now, but Friday we all woke up to a gloomy grey light, forcing its way under the blinds. It was one of those days that really needed a splash of bright colour and we had the perfect day planned for the kids. Its been a while since I have been to Birmingham but with the new Legoland Discovery centre opening there it seemed like the perfect excuse for a day out in the city where I was born, with three of my favourite people. 

We were loving the walk along the canal when we got to Birmingham, watching the boys getting excited the closer we got and when they saw the giant lego giraffe towering over the wall we knew we were going to have a great day. We were fully engulfed in that 'splash of bright colour' that we were desperate for from the moment we walked inside and it was such a huge change from the gloomy, grey Birmingham outside.

When visiting any of the awesome Legoland locations, my favourite part is always the Miniland, as I love to see scaled down versions of iconic buildings. This LEGOLAND Discovery centre for me went one step better than the others, creating buildings that were a big part of my childhood, including the electric cinema, Edgbaston cricket ground and Cadbury's where I first worked. It was a bright and colourful walk down memory lane and it really added to the visit.

The mini land was also great how the lighting changed, giving you the chance to view brick Birmingham during the daytime and the evening. With mini games to play including barge racing on the canal and football at Villa park it kept the boys more than entertained and built up a little bit of healthy family competition. 

After a good walk around the miniland we headed over to the Kingdom Quest ride because Frankie was desperate to shoot some trolls. Opeie decided that he was going to aim for the princess' which didn't work out well for him and it turned out that Becci ended up being the dark horse and walked away racking up more points than any of us (I need to keep an eye on her).

Then it was on to some building as the boys were itching to get their hands on some bricks. When we visited the Lego Discovery centre in Manchester a few years ago, one of Opeie's favourite parts was the LEGO Racers build and test where you can create vehicles and see how they hold up hitting the ramps. This was the perfect way for the 4 of us to have a quick build before the 4D Cinema showing.

After a spot of lunch we had another build off, creating a build that could zip wire down a vertical drop passing through rings which the boys loved so much I've said we'll make one from the bedroom window over to the shed at home, which should be a fun. It's important to know that when booking the LEGOLAND Discovery centre that although it is lots of fun and will keep the kids more than entertained, it's not really an all day kind of attraction, like the main LEGOLAND in Windsor...

...which is why it's handy to know that on the other side of the canal facing the building is the Sealife centre. Again this isn't really somewhere you could fill an entire day but the 2 being so close to each other makes for a pretty lovely extended visit to the area. Combi tickets are also available when booking. If you are lucky you may also get to visit while there is a LEGO event on there too which was something that was on during one of our visits a few years back.

Opeie has just started a project on animals, so the trip to the Sealife centre tied in perfectly to that, giving him the chance to see some interesting sea creatures that he could later write about. It was really lovely after the colour explosion at the Discovery centre to then find ourselves in the more relaxed and calming environment of the Sealife and as the boys walked around taking it all in it gave me and Becci a chance to just be us. 

The visit was packed with interesting facts and information to read along the way. My favourite being ....

These kinds of days out are awesome especially when the weather isn't at its best. Also from a home ed point of view both are Perfect for information, creativity and building a Childs imagination. For us it was the perfect outing for building a stronger relationship between the boys and helping to get us one step closer to the extended family we are slowly merging.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

"To do good, you actually have to do something."

After having an afternoon talking to Opeie about plastic in the oceans and the pollution on our beaches in the UK, we watched a few short videos online about the effect if has on sea animals and we wanted to do something to help. It's so easy to learn about these things but then not do anything productive to better the situation. We've recently started to cut down the plastic we use in the house starting with cleaning and body products after learning a few interesting things from Becci and we wanted to continue with that way of living.

Last year Opeie was given a plastic bottle as a 'write a message in a bottle and send it out to sea idea', which was a lovely sentiment but obviously we didn't want to be throwing more plastic into the sea, so the bottle had been sitting on the side for some time. One evening we were all chatting and Becci came up with a great idea to go back to the beach in Crosby after our amazing New Years eve, but this time (as well as collecting sea glass) arm ourselves with bin bags for a beach clean up, but use the bottle to collect small bits of plastic as a way to remind ourselves of the afternoon we had had and the difference we had made.

Another great thing about this trip to Crosby was that we had Becci's boys with us too. Frank and Vinnie are so much fun to be around and having these days out together has been really important for me and Becci taking the next steps in our relationship. We've really been working on us all getting to know each other properly so that when the time comes we can merge in to one bigger happier family. 

Vinnie loves taking photos and while we all combed the beach looking for sea glass and bagged up rubbish he took some great shots of the beach and the sun slowly setting. It's always great watching kids really passionate about the things that interest them and I'm really looking forward to more interesting days out with them so that I can see what he comes with.

As expected the day was really special but how could it not have been really? the company was perfect, the weather lush (apart from the cold) and the cause... well that ended up being really satisfying for all of us and gave Opeie something to write about in his recent animal project. 

As the daylight disappeared we all sat in the back of the car playing card games and having a good chuckle before heading home and having a good sing along on the way back. It was one of those days that just felt right and both myself and Becci could see clearly just where our lives were going.

Oops! I almost forgot about that bottle of plastic...

Sunday, 19 January 2020

"The only source of knowledge is experience"

It seems like we've come such a long way since those early days of Opeie's home education journey. I'm no longer second guessing that decision to take that path and whether it was the right thing to do at the time. Watching Opeie develop over the last few years has been amazing to watch and his thirst for learning and creativity is something I strongly believe would not be there had he been in a school environment. Opeie has many genuine interests and being able to shape an education around these things and focus on his passions is what learning should always be about.

One of the things I've loved most about this journey is having the flexibility to just drop what we are doing and focus on a day out somewhere relevant to the projects we are covering so that we can learn through experience. These kinds of fun educational outings are beneficial to all involved as they really get you thinking and tend to put you in a much more creative headspace.

After a morning of maths the three of us decided to take a trip to Derby Museum and Art Gallery, we'd visited last summer and had a relaxing afternoon painting there. With Opeie starting a new animal project we thought we'd make the most of the natural history section of the Museum and gather images and information for the coming weeks, plus I was hoping we'd find something of use for Becci's uni work too.

We took lots of interesting photo's for the project and found a really interesting book by Jean-Baptiste De Panafieu and Patrick Gries called 'evolution in action' which I think is going to come in really handy for reference purposes. After a good look around the animals we headed upstairs to the Japanese ghosts and demons exhibition on loan from the Ashmolean. The art work was amazing and Opeie really enjoyed the macabre feel to each piece. With the exhibition being so quiet we were able to sit and spend the last part of the visit doing Origami which was a really nice end to the afternoon, with Becci's Origami crane and Opeie's Frogsf itting in perfectly with his animal project.

Learning through experience makes so much more of an impact, over having information just thrown at you. we're all so different from each other and it's really important to be able to focus on the things that make us 'us'.  An afternoon of education like this should stay with Opeie (and us) forever.

Monday, 13 January 2020

"To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there."

I'm developing quite the soft spot for these dudes. 2020 is going to be full of adventure and I can't wait to see what it throws at us. Aside from the recent drama coming my way and having to help Opeie through some difficult times I feel like for once in my life everything is moving the way it is supposed to and I'm finally receiving the love, affection and family life that I've been working towards all these years.

Saturday, 11 January 2020

"A work of art is above all an adventure of the mind."

I like to try and make the most of our days in full, it doesn't always happen because at times life just gets in the way but making the most of our time together is really important to me . Its so easy to fall into that headspace of getting to a certain point of the day and deciding that there's no point going out, especially this time of year when the weather is cold and wet. 

After an afternoon out with Opeie's home ed friends on Friday we got home, packed our paints, pens and Becci 😂 and headed over to one of our favourite hideaway spots for an evening of creativity while watching the sun go down. We backed the car up to the edge of the hillside at Titterstones, dropped the seats, opened the boot and we had the perfect relaxing view to accompany a creative mind. 

Nights like this are perfection and are everything we need as a family for calm and clear headspace.

Monday, 6 January 2020

"If we don't get where we're going, baby I don't care. I'm already there"

I wanted New Years this year to be special with it being mine and Becci's first one together, I also wanted us to do something that really took Opeies mind off the miserable build up to Christmas and start 2020 with a positive clear head, full of excitement and a hunger for that spontaneous adventure that we try and live for throughout the year. When we first started talking about what we were going to do we were aiming towards Seaham, Opeie and I had spent an evening camping over that way a few years ago, which was followed by a 5am comb along the beach, watching the sun come up and collecting sea glass. It was one of those adventures that will always stand out above the rest and we wanted Becci to experience the magic of sea glass hunting too. Seaham is a good drive away and with the nights being pretty cold we figured being somewhere a little closer would be a better idea.

So after a bit of deliberation we decided on Crosby beach in Liverpool. Crosby is also known for it's sea glass hunting, we'd not been there before and it had the added bonus of being the home of Antony Gormleys 'Another Place' sculptures, which we were all excited to see. The plan was to drop the seats in the back of the car and make a bed, park up on the sea front and see in the new year looking out over the sea. Before heading out though we decided to change our plans and stay there until late, then drive home so that we can be warm and comfy in our own beds, it was freezing in Shropshire so it wasn't going to be any warmer on the coast.

When we arrived at the beach it was straight into the sea glass hunting and we ended up with quite a haul. It was so satisfying watching Opeie and Becci really get into the hunt and the surprising burst of   beach worthy sunshine really added to the magic of the afternoon.

After filling a big container with our treasure we headed off for a stroll along the beach to look at the sculptures. The sea was going out and as we walked we could see sculptures appearing out of the water in the distance, seeing them standing there all looking out towards the horizon as the sun set was pretty lovely, but also a little eerie as the light dropped. Opeie was a little scared of them so refused a photo, clearly he's watched far too much Doctor who as he kept saying 'what if they come to life?'

With darkness finally upon us we headed back to the car which we had turned into a little duvet filled den for the evening. It was nowhere near as cold as we were expecting it to be so it was lush being backed up to the beach front with the boot door open, playing games, chatting and messing about. The music choice as always was perfect and the evening ended up being the relaxing end to the year that I think we had all hoped it would be.

For the last few years we've been writing three things that we want to happen the following year on a piece of paper, to burn and send out into the world. This year Becci brought bay leaves to write on and we all sat and wrote our hopes for 2020. I'm really hoping for a much kinder year this year, 2019 was full of negativity and far too much stress and upset for Opeie so I'm hoping all our wishes come true and the year is filled with love and kindness. 

Happy new year from Gifts From The Pirates

Saturday, 4 January 2020

"I love the sounds and the power of pounding water, whether it is the waves or a waterfall."

With Christmas finally out the way and Opeie feeling a little more relaxed with the 25th behind him, it was time for us all to start adventuring again, to get us all in a much better head space. We had New Years eve all planned out (which I'll write about next) but we still had the 30th to fill with fun. So we filled the car with blankets and food, packed coats, scarves and woolly hats and headed over to Pistyll Rhaeadr for a good old stomp up the waterfall.

Its Been a while since we last visited and we were looking forward to taking Becci with us this time, she has a bit of a weird fascination with making Boomerang videos of running water (she wasn't going to be disappointed here). It was cold, wet and very muddy but I had the best company and everything is all smiles when we are together. Clearly I got a little lost in that company though as I failed to take an actual picture of the waterfall, but instead ended up with a load of pictures of myself mucking about trying out Instagram worthy poser shots after watching a couple duck facing all over the place.

The afternoon stomp was just what we all needed and Opeie went to sleep a lot more relaxed than he had done for weeks, I think we're all really happy to see the back of Christmas this year.