Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Another musical interlude

I'll hand over to Calum to entertain you all with his accordion playing tonight.

He isn't getting lessons for it formally, just getting a bit of help from his piano teacher mum with the keyboard side of the instrument for now. I've worked out what chords the buttons do and so I'm getting him to start trying to put both hands together too (although not in this clip). 

He seems to have a natural gift for it and will sit down and work out a tune from ear. The first tune in this clip, Mairi's Wedding, was one he had worked out just 5 minutes earlier after a discussion on Pentatonic Scales. 

I told him that if you used the black notes only it was an easy way of playing a Pentatonic Scale (that is, a 5 note scale. Western music mostly uses an 8 note scale but if you take out the 4th and 7th notes of that scale you get a Pentatonic Scale). I then said that a lot of Scottish music was Pentatonic and when he had a wee shot on the black keys he realised it sounded like the start of Mairi's Wedding. Then off he went, working out the rest of it.

He's working on some traditional tunes just now for Hogmanay celebrations, and Christmas gatherings of course, as well as looking towards Auntie Anna's annual Burns' Supper in January. There is always a good singsong of traditional songs at that and an accordion accompaniment will set the tone perfectly!

Anyway, without any further ado, here he is. In dressing gown and jammies, but pretend you didn't notice that. Oh, and just ignore the train noises in the background too!

Another educational post from the housefulofboys!

Fancy Dress Fun

On Friday night it was the Boys' Brigade Annual fancy dress party.

Before getting into costume the boys had to carve their pumpkins for the best pumpkin competition.

Here are their finished pumpkins. On the left is an Angry Bird pig, by David (6), with a little help from me. In the middle is an Angry Bird, all done by Calum (10). On the right is the Boys' Brigade badge, by James (12) which won 1st prize.

This year they chose much easier costumes than last year's Marvel characters!

They were (from left to right) - James Bond, Tintin, a little brother in his jammies not wanting to be left out of the action, and James Bond's little assistant, complete with Jetpack. Yes, of course James Bond has a little assistant with a jetpack. Everyone knows that!

The jetpack (made out of two fizzy juice bottles spray painted silver and stuck together, two plastic cups on the bottom and some fire coloured tissue paper, proved to be the key to helping Bond's assistant win 1st prize in the fancy dress competition. That's the 3rd year in a row David has won!

I think Calum made a pretty good Tintin.

We based his costume on this cup...

....and so had to recreate the pose...

These photos were all taken after the party, which is why James Bond's bow-tie is so wonky and is hair is a little less perfect. It's a bit more authentic though, like he's just fought off a baddie while standing on top of a train or something!

With David having won first prize for three years running, and Calum winning it the year before that, I think we have set ourselves a very high benchmark for next year!


Friday, 26 October 2012

London - Part 4

Last one, I promise!

Calum (10) is studying the Victorians at school just now and so wanted to visit the Royal Albert Hall. Since it is within walking distance of the 3 museums we visited on Friday we started off there.

Right across the road from it is the Albert Memorial. Remember how I said that Victoria's memorial at Buckingham Palace was no where near as grand?

The memorial is a good place to get a photo of the concert hall though.

When it was first used for concerts, the Victorians soon realised that the lovely domed roof gave a terrible acoustic. Inside the building they put lots of upturned domes that look like a field of mushrooms to help with the sound. look out for that the next time you see a televised concert from the Royal Albert Hall (the Remembrance Day one will be coming up soon!)

In yesterday's post I mentioned that we had visited HMS Belfast. This was Thursday's trip and I highly recommend it. The ship is really big and there is so much to see on it. It's amazing to think that you are walking about on this ship that has seen action during the war.

We were especially keen to see inside the big gun turret because during WWII the boys' great-grandfather (my dad's dad) worked on the big guns of a gunship, although not on the Belfast. He survived two separate torpedo attacks and was commended for bravery.

The engine room on board was just unbelievable. To think that this all made sense to someone!

These are just a small corner of it.

Down below the waterline of the ship was the shell storage, in a heavily armoured room. Just in case of airstrikes!

Getting about the ship involves going up and down lots of these steep ladders.

During the war the name of the ship wouldn't be on a sailors hat. That way if they were picked up, the enemy wouldn't know what ship they were from. I think!

Not content with trying on one hat, David wanted to try them all.

The Belfast sits in the shadow of Tower Bridge...

....and after we were done exploring the ship we took a clipper boat down the Thames to our next museum, the Maritime Museum.

We sat at the back and watched Tower Bridge behind us.

Getting smaller....

...and smaller

...until it was gone.

After a wonderfully rich week it was soon time to head home.

The excitement of the holiday wasn't quite over yet, as we still had a long train journey on a big fast train ahead of us.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

London - Part 3, the rest of the museums

 For Part 1 see here and Part 2 see here, just in case you missed them :0)

On our trip to London  we visited 9 museums in 5 days.

The Imperial War Museum and the Sherlock Holmes Museum were the first two.

David (6) wanted us to go and and visit the Transport Museum, no. 3.

It isn't huge but is really well laid out and interactive for children. There is a great history of the underground railway and how it was built. 

This was the first train. Imagine a steam train underground? It was apparently not the most pleasant of journeys!

Of course there are also some more of those iconic buses.

As well as some newer models.

Is it just me or are bus drivers getting younger these days?

Museum no.4 was the Churchill War Rooms, the underground bunker from where Churchill and his Cabinet planned their tactics in WWII.

The war rooms aren't the grand looking building in the background, but are all underground.

This is quite an amazing museum as you are walking around the actual place where all this planning took place.

The maps on the walls are the actual maps used.

This one below had hundreds and hundreds of tiny pin holes going across the Atlantic as it was used to keep track of ships.

This was Churchill's bedroom. Complete with cigar on the bedside table.

The boys were rather fascinated by this typewriter! 

Museum no.5, continuing our military theme, was the HMS Belfast, one of the gunships used in the D-Day landings. More about this one tomorrow, which I promise will be the last London post! (Just be thankful that I haven't shared all 400 photos I took, although perhaps it feels like that!)

Museum no.6, visited on the same day as the ship above, was the Maritime Museum in Greenwich, home of the international date line.

The boys and I visited museums 7, 8, and 9 on our own on the day that my husband was at his conference. 

Museum no. 7 was the Natural History Museum. 

At the back of the dinosaur section is a huge animatronic T-Rex. It wouldn't keep still for me to get a decent photo!

Right across from the Natural History Museum is the Victoria & Albert Museum, no. 8. 

The V&A, as it's known, was a bit too 'arty' for the boys so we didn't go round the whole museum, but I did want to pop in and see the costume displays.

My favourite was this beautiful wedding veil from the 1900s.

Our final museum, which sits right next door to the natural History Museum, was the Science Museum, no.9.

This one is for my North American friends and shows how much light is given off by countries at night. I couldn't actually get a photo of the UK because of the way the globe was tilted.

By the time the Science Museum was closing I was pretty tired - negotiating my way across London by public transport with 4 boys and then visiting 3 museums (we also visited the Albert Hall that morning, and the Albert Memorial across from it). I was more than a little glad when my husband came to meet us when his conference was done!