Author Topic: Summer Holiday Fun (long post)  (Read 2213 times)

Mrs Glenys Chew

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Summer Holiday Fun (long post)
« on: October 03, 2007, 10:47:15 PM »
I think I should post this before it gets too far out of date.  I haven?t had much time on the computer lately for personal stuff.

Dear All

I've been a bit pre-occupied this holiday, but I think I've managed to do a fair part of what I wanted to achieve, even if some of it involved a bit of cheating by using someone else's organised events instead of my own plans.  I'll mark those up as being versatile, not cheats.  Photos are at

Not entirely in this order, but:

- Tim has gained some knot awareness.  I'm proud of this, so I'm putting it up at the top of the list.  He came running in to me saying he'd seen a knot on a Thunderbirds episode (original TV puppets) and then he did a fair drawing of what it looked like.  It was a cow hitch.  He's tied several simple knots, although he has trouble remembering their names, and he hasn't the patience for sitting and learning.  It's a case of seizing live opportunities as they arise.  For actually trying hard to learn several knots, he was awarded a book of a cartoon film he liked (killing two birds with one stone - he isn't that keen on reading either).  I'm trying to keep the knots to variations of what he already knows, so for instance clove hitch and cow hitch, nearly the same, the rope just goes in a different direction.  Overhand knot, reef knot and slip knot, likewise.  He should build confidence that way, and be able to remember them easier.  (He starts Cubs this week, so I look forwards to opportunities there.)

- I put a cord on my camera case to keep my mini-tripod secure with a constrictor, and I'm trying to learn how to do a 10-bight TH in round cord elastic so that I can mend the battery cover, which has snapped off.  4 bights weren't holding well enough, and didn't look very good.  Unfortunately I'm having trouble following the lines of the crossing points, so I may have to rethink this, because it's got to be tied on the camera or the elastic is too strong to move from a form to the camera.  I've already tried that.

- Crudely, but efficiently, repaired a neighbour's broken gate whilst he was out.  His very large dog, George, had come out to play when he shoved a whole wood slat out of the way, and knocked it off its nails.  Fortunately although George was overcome with happiness at his newfound freedom and wanted to play with my teenaged daughter (who isn't a dog person) he was a big softy at heart, and made friends very easily.  I had to use cord to reattach the wood slat, as the wood was so rotten that I feared I would break it up entirely if I tried to use a hammer to nail it back on.  Nearly a month later the repair is still working, and the owners are tired of the landlord's failure to mend the fence.

- Tim made a little raft at a local park ranger activity.  I went with him, and he did one side, and I did the other and the mast.  I complimented a lady nearby on her very beautiful knotting, and she grinned, and confessed to having been trained as a butcher, and it was just like trussing up a joint of meat!

- The next day Tim, Rachel and my Dad and I went another activity where they made boats out of junk material.  More on that story is with the photos.

- Three year old Rachel has developed a fondness for making 'hammy Christmasses'.  She likes to tie things up in parcels, such as toy vehicles in jumpers, and rubbers or playbricks in teatowels, with cord wrapped round (wrap is the operative word, I'm trying to get her to pass the string under, rather than just round and round itself, so she learns an overhand knot) and then she presents the 'hammy - or happy - Christmas' to someone.

- Discovered my missing reply to Dan?s post about Advice on Waterlogged Knots ? sorry Dan, I thought I had posted this:

?A few ducks or the very few youngsters who are not on the inflatable, or in the queue. 
(I'll resist the urge to smile too much, but I'm still feeling cheerful!)
I'm sorry, I should have explained properly that these are the "floating assault course" type of inflatable.  Wild guesses are 6-8feet wide or more.  The pool length is 25m, according to the Council website, and I found a picture of a similar inflatable here (wherever these people are):
The bungee cords are about 2 feet long, and the remaining distance is covered by rope, of which the last two or three feet on the section I looked at was badly unravelled.?  Unfortunately, that was the last time we went swimming, so I haven?t yet been able to offer to help them properly.

- Made a rope-swing for our only tree, using its only loadbearing branch.  The original was in Tim?s favourite blue rope, and he wanted it back so I had to find another rope fast.  The only thing I could find in the shops in Bury (even the camping shop) was raffia-style washing line, and the thickest of those was way to thin on its own.  So I asked my Dad.  I ought to record here that undoubtedly one of the greatest assets to my knot-tying has been the fact that my Dad used to be a farmer, and that he (and I) both detest throwing away good instruments, rope, or other useful items.  I?ll post separately on some of the things he?s helped me with.

Anyway, the thin, raffia-style, three-cord washing line was taken down, and replaced with rope which had formed the rope-swing of my own childhood.  I think it?s made of four doubled strands, but I?m still having trouble counting leads and bights and stuff.  It?s satisfyingly over an inch thick, anyway.  Thanks to TreeSpyder?s video of the baby pulling a bus, a ropeswing at Tim?s school, which no-one seems to know who put it there, but which featured a good attempt at an Ossel Knot, and Geoffrey Budworth providing correct instructions for an Ossel Knot in his Guide To Knots, I was able to choose and tie a knot which does the very minimum of harm to the tree.  I remember my disappointment with my own rope-swing, when it almost cut through the arm of the tree and I couldn?t use it any more.  When I get replacement chests of drawers for the children?s bedrooms, I will be able to remake it with a proper seat.  I think three drawer fronts glued together will be enough to withstand the combined childhoods of the estate.

The swing was finished with a figure-of-eight knot at the bottom, which Rachel finds very convenient.  I loadtested it personally for weightbearing, and then again, watching the knots carefully for any slippage, and then again actually swinging enthusiastically to make sure of the minimal damage to the tree.  I think Tim and Rachel were a bit put out by my care in this area, but after all, that?s what Mothers are for ? we?re here to make sure they?re safe, and how could I do that if I didn?t have first swing on it myself, I ask you?

Anyway ? it?s proving popular, and Rachel?s escape attempts from the house do tend to stop in the front garden now.  So that?s one unforeseen benefit.

- Had fun doing fake fishing.  There?s no other way of describing it.  We used plastic foam rockets (tradenamed Nerf, for the original) as both bait and catch, and I tied my first fishing knot, a non-slip mono, round the shaft of the rocket to hold it.  Five minutes later I retied it with a good many more turns, and it held very well.  Using a sailmakers needle to pass fishing line through smaller and cheaper foam rockets was no problem, but they ripped badly, and soon got replaced by the only available alternative: empty plastic bottles, of the 500ml and 200ml variety.  Tim hasn?t the patience for real fishing, and Rachel just wants to throw lines (like Mr Jeremy Fisher, in the Beatrix Potter books).  I didn?t consider either of them to be safe with a fishing hook, so we just had fun running the bottles over the little tiny weir in the feeder canal.  The country park we were in is at the bottom of our road, and their website is linked on the photos I took.  Next summer Tim will be old enough to do their other activities.

- I regret to report the loss of the glass pond-dipping bottle shown in my photo album.  The knots slipped under extensive use, and the bottle couldn?t be retrieved as that part of the river was too wide and we didn?t have long enough net-poles with us that day.  Despite the valiant efforts of our three neighbour children it had to be left to its fate.  I am working on a new one, and will let you know when it?s on the album.  But ? just to whet your imaginations ? in true Chew fashion, it?s made of a 4litre plastic bottle, and currently three horseshoes.  We?ll see how it finishes.

- We went to Yorvik, in York, England.  I highly recommend this archaeological-cum-theme ride.  I first visited it nearly 20 years ago, not long after it opened, and I think it was the first place in the world to include smells in the tour.  Of course, in a town with open cesspits, there aren?t many choices of what smells to have.  You ride the main exhibition in a monorail of 6-seater hanging cars, each with a speaker in the individual headrests.  Then you disembark for the museum side, and the staff are all dressed in costume.  Seeing a man striking coins, I asked about knots that might have been found, and was privileged to be taken to a display I?d missed whilst trying to keep up with the children.  They were doing fingerweaving, and I was treated to a three minute demonstration (two-and-a-half minutes talk, 30 seconds doing), and given two sample braids in progress (one of two strands, one of four) to help me learn it for when I go to Tim?s school.  I was thrilled ? most people come out with a passing knowledge of archaeology and Vikings, but I came out with a new skill!

- A few days later, we were on our way to Blackpool to see the Tower Circus (also highly recommended).  I had hoped to use the journey doing some plaiting with the redundant washing line from the swing, but there was too much for me to manipulate in the confines of the front seat of an Audi A2.  Instead I ended up fingerweaving it!  Nearly 20 metres later I had figured out a good rhythmic technique, and was discovering that I had very nice chunky rope.  Further fingerweaving practice the next day waiting in the queue at the College Enrolment for our teenaged daughter ended up with a khipu-style record of how many times I sat down, had time to fingerweave, had to get up, sat down, fingerwove, had to get up?.. but it was nice of the college to provide chairs for the queue of about 160 people.  I also found whilst in a doctor?s queue the following week, that it?s better to learn fingerweaving with a large cord (2mm or more) than with wool.  Finally, I discovered that throwing the cord to the outside gives a lovely ?smooth? finish, and keeping it to the inside makes it more lumpy.  I hope to post on this on the wiki at some point.

- Talking of Blackpool Tower Circus, however, I found I was sat next to a very decorative wall, with a clear Arabic influence in the plastered decoration.  You could tell the Victorians had done it ? no modern builder or architect would have covered the walls so completely.  There must have been a couple of thousand square yards of decorative plaster work: is the official photo.  But I became aware of part of the pattern looking distinctly like a simple Turks Head template.  I have tried to reproduce it on the photo album, but each ?strand? was actually about a centimetre across, where I?ve only used lines.

- Saw a duck-tape rose that had been made for a friend of mine.  It was really impressive.  Instructions are at

- Finally, I?ve started trying to master the Knife Lanyard knot, both as a simple zip-pull, and as a secure ending for fingerweaving and braiding.  I?m still waiting for the bureaucracy to process my application to work at Tim?s school, and I have not had the leisure yet to approach my local society for the blind, to see if any blind people want to try knotting.

So ? that was my summer, and I look forwards to meeting some of you at Styal next week.
Mrs Glenys Chew
1 Corinthians 15:10