Saturday, 12 August 2017

Pull Up a Pew #1. Fiorella Nash. Spreading the Pro Life Message at Home and in the Media

The first episode of 'Pull Up a Pew' interview for Catholic Mothers was supposed to be recorded on 13th May this year... Things didn't really work out that day, the sound system as well as the recording equipment gave up on me. My husband had an important meeting he couldn't miss, my high tech children were not available so we had to give up... man proposes and God disposes! Although that first episode never happened I have hopes for the future... in the meantime we decided to conduct the interview by correspondence and in the past few days I have had the honour of having a wonderful email exchange with Fiorella Nash: Mum, tireless pro-life campaigner and novelist to find out how she balances writing, media work and motherhood.

Today, (though not on our Catholic Mothers YouTube channel), I have the pleasure to introduce you to this wonderful woman.

Enjoy and share!

Tell us something about yourself?

I am married with four young children. I am a novelist, journalist and campaigner, specialising in pro-life feminism. This year, I have branched out a little with my writing and published my first work of detective fiction, following the exploits of Benedictine sleuth Fr Gabriel.

What inspired your interest in the pro-life movement?
Can you remember a moment or incident when you decided this was going to be your life’s work?

I can’t pretend that there was a single moment when I ‘discovered’ the pro-life movement or realised that my life was heading in that direction. It was a slower process than that. I remember hearing a White Flower Appeal at my church when I was about 14 and being appalled by the scale of the abortion tragedy. I had a strong sense already that abortion was a tragedy but I had never appreciated before then how common abortion was and what it actually involved. I became a member of SPUC soon after that and eventually became involved with student activism. I never initially imagined that I would work for the pro-life movement, I was mostly involved with left-wing social justice groups at that point, but I came to the realisation that social justice begins at home. I have always believed that pro-life campaigning should hold a central place in the struggle for justice, alongside fighting poverty and other forms of oppression.

Apologetics for Mothers

As mothers we are in contact at school and playgroups with the people who have the greatest say in the abortion debate, mothers themselves. What do you think is the best approach? Good arguments/ strategies

I don’t think there is a single strategy that works but there are a number of things to consider. I think it is important in these settings to establish friendships as it is always easier to have a difficult or controversial conversation with people you trust and have had a chance to get to know a little. I would also say, don’t be afraid to join in with the difficult conversations. Quite often, subjects such as abortion come up as part of a discussion about a particular news story that’s doing the rounds. A moment like that can offer the possibility of a much deeper conversation. I would also caution against assuming that everyone will be against you. In spite of the widespread acceptance of abortion in this country, many people are extremely concerned about abortion and are genuinely unaware of precisely what abortion involves.

I also think it is important to make it clear that you respect women and that you respect bodily integrity. I am keen to point out that, in the end, I oppose abortion because it ends a human life. I believe in freedom and equality for women, I have benefited and my daughters will continue to benefit from female emancipation, but in the end, freedom cannot be bought at the expense of human life.

People are often deeply invested in their point of view either because they or someone close to them has had an abortion. What is the best way to approach people without making them feel judged or condemned, or is that the best way?

I would never want to judge or condemn anyone – whatever they had done. I think that goes beyond the abortion debate. There is a difference between being honest about the wrongness of an act and shunning or shaming the person responsible. I don’t believe we have any right to do that. When it comes to abortion, if you have been personally touched by abortion, if a close friend or relative has had an abortion, I think it is important to acknowledge that. I always feel that there is a tendency to think that pro-life women live in some kind of a bubble, but that is simply not the case and it helps to dispense with that myth as early as possible. One of the reasons I believe in establishing friendships with others is precisely because it avoids the possibility of becoming judgemental. I am aware that women can be left in a desperately difficult situation during pregnancy, that abortion is sometimes mooted as the only option. I always start by acknowledging what might have led to the abortion and to make it clear that I am there for the person involved. Only then is it possible to start talking about the wrongness of abortion itself. Truth and compassion are not enemies.

In the UK where the abortion debate seems so niche in comparison with the United States what’s the best we can hope for?

To win! My daughter is a competitive figure skater and one of the first things she learnt was – never aim for mediocrity. Aim to get on the podium, even if you know the odds are against you. If you aren’t going to aim to win, why are you entering the competition in the first place? In the UK, we hope to do what any pro-life movement in the world hopes to do in the long run, change hearts and minds, make abortion unthinkable, build a culture of life in which both the pregnant mother and her baby are truly valued and protected. SPUC is fifty years old this year and when the Society was first founded, I doubt anyone believed the battle would be so long-drawn-out, but we must never lose hope. 

Media work

You’ve often been interviewed on the radio and TV. What’s your experience?

I have a lot more experience of radio than TV, partly because it is more practical – you can be interviewed for radio over the phone without having to go to a studio, so there tend to be more opportunities there and it is my favourite medium. I like the intimacy of the radio setting. Unlike TV, where there is a certain showmanship needed to appear before the cameras, speaking on the radio is more personal. People tend to listen to the radio alone – in their cars, pottering about the kitchen – so there is more of a sense of having a personal conversation with somebody, even you are having that conversation with thousands of individuals at the same time.

How do you prepare for media interviews?
I do as much background research as possible, which will include extensive reading and usually discussions with experts in the field and other members of the team at SPUC. I will usually alert friends via social media or personal messages to pray as I always feel more at ease if I know there are people praying when I go on air.

Have you had any real successes?
It is difficult to gauge how successful an appearance is, though my brief Woman’s Hour appearance generated a lot of feedback. I was happy with how it went because I was able to get a couple of points across in spite of the undisguised hostility of the presenter and the fact that she declared beforehand that a minority opinion like mine only required 4 minutes of airtime.

Have you experienced some real disasters?
Hahaha, now that would be telling! I have never had a complete and utter meltdown, but then I don’t think many people ever do. I have had occasions where I have felt very disappointed and upset afterwards because I have felt that I did not get my points across well or focus enough, particularly when I first started. The first speech I ever gave – ten days after starting the job – was an unmitigated disaster, but fortunately it was not recorded!

When the odds are stacked against you can any good come of such appearances?
A resounding YES to that, but I would qualify that by saying that one has to pick the right outlets. We are not media tarts, if you’ll forgive the expression, and no one is obliged to say yes to every media request. If there is a situation where the environment is going to be so hostile and the odds so stacked against you that there is no way you will ever be able to get your point across, it may be more constructive to decline. I have certainly had occasions where I would have declined if I had known that my opponent was going to be an aggressive, condescending bully and the promised ‘lively, light-hearted discussion’ a vicious slanging match.

Spreading the good news on social media

The space for discussion of abortion online is becoming ever more restricted. Pro life websites have been banned in France. What’s the current situation in the UK?

I am not aware of any pro-life sites being banned in the UK and in many ways, the rise of social media has invigorated pro-life debate. The media no longer has complete control over what stories are broadcast and which opinions are permitted airtime. Social media levels the playing field, allowing pro-life campaigners to get their message across more effectively. It has also made it much easier for groups and individuals to network and exchange ideas with organisations all around the world.

Mother’s groups and websites are very active on facebook/mumsnet etc. It’s not unheard of that people considering abortion practically put the decision to an online poll. Can and should we get involved and how?

When a woman is openly discussing the possibility of having an abortion, I think it is important to be the person who offers an alternative. I have heard women who regret their abortions say that if just one person had suggested an alternative or said ‘you don’t have to do this’ they would not have had the abortion. Go gently, maybe post the number of a helpline they could talk to. They may not pick up the phone, but at least you will know that you gave life a chance. The thing to avoid in a situation like that is getting into slanging matches or coming across as preachy. I once read a rant written by a woman instructing a post-abortive woman to ‘learn to save sex for marriage in future’ and the woman turned out to be married. All it did was to make the pro-life intervener look ridiculous and to provoke a venomous exchange from other posters. As with all online interaction, the first rule is: remember that you are dealing with another person here, imagine that you are interacting with them face-to-face before you post your comment.

Bringing up a pro-life family

What do you do in the home to pass on the pro-life message?

I answer all my children’s questions on life, marriage and sexuality as openly as possible, whilst keeping my answers age-appropriate. The most important piece of advice I ever received about building a pro-life ethos in your home is to avoid harsh words and criticism. I once read an article by a mum who talked about the damage done by parents who talk negatively about other people in front of their children and how it breeds a culture of fear and shame in a home. More than anything else, I try to build trust and respect within the family unit and to keep channels of communication open. I want my children to know that every family member is welcome and that, whatever they do, whatever mistakes they make in life, they are loved, the home will always be a place of safety for them and we can always try to work things out together.

Fiorella and her Novels

Click on the image to buy her books

Which books inspired you to write your own Catholic fiction?

I never set out to write Catholic fiction, but I have wanted to be a writer since I was a child and there have been too many influences on my writing to count. I once joked to a journalist that I would ‘like to be Evelyn Waugh’ but a friend told me that my books are so dark in places that I come across as much more a disciple of Graham Greene! If I were to name my two biggest inspirations, I would probably say Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning and Solzhenitsyn, both as a man and as a writer. I remember reading Ivan Denisovich when I was at school and being completely overwhelmed by how vivid it was. I kept thinking how amazing it would be to be able to write like that.  

Are you setting out to write a really good Catholic novel or a good novel that happens to be Catholic? 

Definitely the latter. First and foremost, I am a novelist not a propagandist or a theologian, nor do I write for an exclusively Catholic audience. However, I very much believe that if one lives and writes within the Catholic moral universe, the Faith will be very much present in the story.

What genre do you think  serves your purpose best and why?

My novels are mostly historical fiction, simply because I have an interest in history and in reconstructing the past. I am very interested in how we are influenced by past events and how the lives of ordinary people are changed by being alive at a particularly cataclysmic moment, such as the outbreak of war or the height of the Mediterranean slave trade.

Are there any genres you would like to try in future? 

I have been challenged to write a comedy – and that really would be a challenge! Who knows, maybe I will pluck up the courage to try one day…

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Passing on the Faith onto Our Children

"Are you prepared to accept children lovingly from God and to bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?"

Priest: What names have you given your children?

Pierpaolo & Chiara: Ettore Maria, Mattia Maria, Elena Maria, Lucia Maria, Virginia Maria, Maria Bernadette.

Priest: What do you ask of God’s Church for Ettore Maria, Mattia Maria, Elena Maria, Lucia Maria, Virginia Maria, Maria Bernadette.?

Pierpaolo & Chiara: Baptism.

Priest: You have asked to have your child baptised. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training them in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him/her up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbour. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking? 

Pierpaolo & Chiara: We do.

The priest to the godparents:

Priest: Are you ready to help the parents of this child in their duty as Christian parents?

Godparents: We are.

Priest:  Ettore Maria, Mattia Maria, Elena Maria, Lucia Maria, Virginia Maria, Maria Bernadette, the Christian community welcomes you with great joy. In its name I claim you for Christ our Saviour by the sign of his cross. I now trace the cross on your forehead, and invite your parents and godparents to do the same.

When we, Christian parents, asked for baptism for our children we promise to co-operate with the Church in bringing our children up as true children of God and to teach them to love him and to serve Him every day of their life.

There are many baptisms over the year in our parish, but I wonder how many people truly recognise the weight of those words pronounced by the priest in response to our request:"You have asked to have your child baptised. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training them in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him/her up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbour. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?" This is serious stuff...we are entrusted and are given the privilege to bring up the children of God. 

Growing up as a young mother I remember being afraid of losing my children along the way, I still have a vivid the memory of the many prayers sent up to heaven for the boys to remain in and find strength in the Church.

What were we to do? How could we prevent them from leaving when they were older... that brought real anxiety at times. I was so afraid to fail that task I was being assigned. 

God has been a true Father throughout this journey of Faith. He little by little showed us that we as parents had nothing to worry about, that He had everything thought out.

In Baptism, our parents made our first 'profession of  faith' on our behalf and from that day on the Church has nourished us, has fed, enriched us, has given us values and we have found freedom in her teaching.

Do you renounce Satan, and all his works and empty promises?

 I do. 

 Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth? 

 I do.

 Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered death and was buried, rose again from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father? 

I do. 

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who today through the Sacrament of Confirmation is given to you in a special way just as he was given to the Apostles on the day of Pentecost? 

 I do. 

Do you believe in the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting? 
 I do.

This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen.   

The Creed is, as St Ambrose states, the spiritual seal, our heart's meditation and an ever present guardian; it is unquestionably, the treasure of the soul.

Here was where I found the answer to my prayers and the end to my anxiety!

That profession of faith that my parents once made on my behalf, those words proclaimed not long after I was born into this world, were not meant to stay dormant. The seed planted at Baptism had to become a solid  tree with its roots in Christ.

We Christian parents are called to profess the Creed, day in and day out as a witness of that LOVE that saved us all, so that we could enter in communion with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the whole Church.

The mother Church is there to guide us as individuals as well as parents, she has the right words for the right times (even if sometimes these words seem harsh, it is is always a relief to trust in her wisdom), the right 'activities' and resources for us and our growing family.

Based on her tradition and her teaching that has been successful over thousands of years we have nothing to worry about and nothing to reinvent. It is all there ready for us to access.

So to the question 'What are you doing now in the hope of keeping your kids in the Faith?'... we are living with coherence the same Faith of our ancestors, traced back all the way to the apostles and Christ himself... 

We pray together, we receive the Sacraments together, we talk openly together, we discuss life in all 
its aspect in the light of the faith,we eat together, we celebrate together, we moan together, we argue but we never let the sun go down on our anger, we suffer but have been given a meaning to our suffering and in turn we remind one another of this.

We fully live and draw strength from the strong liturgical seasons however badly we end up living them because of  life... which shows us that no matter how imperfect, sinful, forgetful we are He still comes for us.

On Crafts and Activities:

Though we love our crafts and the odd activity here and there, I feel that the weight of the liturgical season and its focus can sometimes easily shift towards those pretty, fun and disposable projects... and these end up replacing the beautiful liturgies and the continuous life-giving gifts that the Church has to offer.

Crafts and activities are a lovely way to accompany some of the teaching especially for younger children but should never take the place of the wonderful traditions that have been passed on from one generation to another for centuries.

Children need to be part of the greatness of the Church. It is important not to underestimate the understanding and intuition of the children. Their participation will increase with age and God will slowly establish a personal relationship with them.   

Taking young children to Sunday Mass, the Triduum, Penitential Services can be very tiring and at times disheartening, but the sacrifice that us as parents (and in particular mothers if the spouse is active in the choir, or a cantor or is involved in any other kind of service) is of immense value and won't be for long... Thanks to our persistence, coherence and service, our children will little by little have access the the immensity of the Faith. 

I claim you for Christ

Our life should speak of Christ...  we are not perfect, we fall daily, we have many weaknesses but it is in Him that we find our strength, the children have witnessed this many times in us and as they grow up they are discovering it for themselves. 

So what happens if they will one day lose faith or fall away... well they have been anointed... they have been claimed for Christ... God wants to save them more than I do, so I know He will be on their case.

Friday, 12 May 2017

13 Reasons Why... We should pray the Rosary

The 13th May... 100 years ago on this day Our Lady appeared to three little shepherds in Fatima; 36 years ago, in 1981, John Paul II was shot on the same day that I turned 1.

It is a day which is full of meaning for me, a day that speaks so strongly about life, its beauty and its fragility, death and eternal life.

“Behold, your Mother!” (Jn 19:27) Jesus said to John at the foot of the Cross. The gift of such a graceful mother was not exclusive to the disciple but in pronouncing these words to John, Jesus gave us his own and entrusted us to her. 

When a baby is born his mother is the whole world, so much so that he hardly realises she is a different person. As the Christian child grows older and discover their unicity, the bond with the earthly mother is gently untied and a greater bond with the Heavenly Mother acquired.

Praying the Rosary should be at the heart of every household. It is a simple prayer that strengthen that motherly bond and ties us to heaven.

In this period running up to the 13th May when we celebrate the Centenary of the Fatima apparitions Netflix is proposing a series which gives 13 reasons why the main character chooses to commit suicide. I on the other hand, will give 13 reasons why we should pray the Rosary, reasons that will definitely bring light to our day and will give us and our family fullness of life.

Here are 13 Reasons why we should pray the rosary

  1. Because our Blessed Mother told us to!
How many times have you wished your children would do something just because you say so. To trust that we have the best for them at heart. That we don't ask them to do things arbitrarily but because we want the best for them and we want them to cooperate with us in doing what needs to be done for the whole family. Mary told the children at Fatima to pray the Rosary every day. What would be the best answer from us: why should I? Or OK, I will do my best! I know what I'd want to hear from my children.

2. Because it brings us to Christ

Everything in the Rosary is centred on Christ, the Hail Marys themselves are centred on His Holy Name. Each mystery bring us closer to the events of the life of our Lord and saviour. Mary shows us the way to Him and from Her we learn how to bring Jesus into the world.

3. Because it brings the family together

Sometimes it seems that everything around us militates against the members of the family really coming together. School, work, technology, TV, mobiles, social media, computers. The family rosary can become a moment when all of that is put to one side, all the surrogate communication is left behind and the real business of communicating with God together takes place. It's not always easy but nothing that is worthwhile ever is! 

4. Because It's a defence for the family

It may be repeated endlessly but it doesn't make it any less true: 'The family that prays together stays together.' The question is why? It's all about prioritisation. Jesus was a great management guru as well as all the rest, 'seek  first the kingdom of God and all the rest will be given you as well'. Do you want your family to stay together? Then seek Jesus first without embarrassment, we strong-arm our children to do the things we consider important, homework, washing, chores but are we willing to place prayer at the top of that list? 

5. Because in the Rosary we pass on the Faith to our children

Both of us are involved in teaching yet it's rare that we ever feel it necessary to add any explanation to the rosary. It's an eminently practical lesson. A Father leading the Rosary says more than a hundred discussions on what is prayer.  A Mother kneeling with her beads shows where she gets the strength to carry on. An older brother praying out loud for help at school shows to whom we turn in our hour of need. 

6. Because children learn meditative prayer from an early age

Think of your average children's cartoon. The colours are bright, the action is manic, the music is loud everything is screaming for your passive attention. What could be more different than the soothing, quiet rhythms of the rosary that call you out of your passivity to think of Jesus, of Mary, of the people for whom you are praying.

7. Because it forces us to come out of our selfishness

Bedtime prayers with children can quickly become a repetitive event. Children rattle off a list of friends and relations which barely changes from day to day. In our house each person can propose an intention at the beginning of each decade. We make sure that we think carefully to whom we wish to apply these powerful prayers. We make a small sacrifice of time and effort for the good of someone else.

8. Pray for Pope's intentions

The first part of the Rosary is traditionally said for the Pope's intentions. You can find out what these are every month on the Vatican website. It's important to bring our children into a relationship with the universal Church. We can end up becoming very provincial and closed in our parish preoccupations.

9.You get to know your Heavenly Mother “Behold, your Mother!” (Jn 19:27)

10. Because you can learn to rest in prayer 

A household with many children is an endlessly busy place. Every moment can be filled with something that needs doing. Sitting in one place for twenty minutes seems like a luxury we can't afford. Yet it's an important lesson. Pause for prayer and rest in the Lord.

11. Because it's effortless 

Spontaneous prayers are all very well and the endlessly imaginative prayer sessions one gets in school and parish sessions might be good in small doses but sometimes we just need to sit at the feet of Mary with a prayer which has been handed on to us perfectly formed by the great Dominicans of the past, developed by Pope St John Paul II ready for us to simply offer to God. No effort, no imagination, no invention!

12. Because it's a physical prayer

We are physical as well as spiritual beings. Our body needs to be engaged in prayer too, not just our mind. The rosary is an eminently physical prayer, we can kneel, finger the beads, recite it antiphonally, look at an image. 

13. Because we need help at the hour of our death

In a society where death is hidden and never mentioned in the rosary we speak of it over and over again. It is in the end our greatest fear and a prayer which does not shy away from helping us with what we fear most is surely worthy of regular recitation from now until the hour of our death!

Friday, 28 April 2017

Why Hope - My Guest Post on Everyday Ediths

Over at the great Everyday Ediths blog I was asked to write something a post on Hope which is something I've been thinking about for a while. Easter is a season of hope and in this post-Christian world we need it more than ever! Here's a link to my meditation on hope and the differences between hope and optimism.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Things To Do (especially) in London over the Easter Break

Here's a guest-post from my niece, Marta is a London-based mother of three lovely and lively young children... and a real activity-nerd when it comes to holiday time...

School broke up for Easter this last Friday and seeing as my children are 6, 5 and 2, and constantly fighting, I realised early on in the school year that I have to keep them super busy in the holidays.  As a result, our school breaks are action-packed.  We plan activities for every day: playdates, crafts, baking, outings into central London… Chiara asked me to share a few of the things we’ll be doing over the Easter break.

Hot Cross Buns

In England, Hot Cross Buns are spiced sweet buns that mark the end of Lent and are usually eaten on Good Friday. They’re made with raisins or currants and are marked with a cross on the top which represents the Crucifixion; the spices represent the spices used to embalm Christ at his burial.  I don’t usually eat them as I’m not a huge fan of raisins in my pastries, but my son Jude discovered a love of baking this year, and my daughter has come home the last two weeks singing the ‘Hot Cross Buns’ nursery rhyme every day, so I have decided to make the most of this and make them during the Easter holidays this year.  We’ll be using this BBC recipe . Hot Cross Buns are best eaten cut in half, toasted and buttered.

In the last few years it has become popular to create variations of the traditional recipe, such as toffee, orange, apple-cinnamon and coffee.  Others use chocolate chips instead of raisins.  

Foam Crosses

We’re big fans of crafts at our house.  Foam crosses are so simple to make! Using art foam (or card, or any other medium, really!) we cut out a basic cross shape.  I then cut smaller foam pieces in different colours, and stick them to the cross background to create a mosaic effect.  In the past we’ve made them at the beginning of lent, and have stuck on a mosaic tile each time I’ve observed the children being helpful, loving, or sacrificing something they want for someone else, hoping to fill the crosses before the end of Lent.

Signs of Spring

Autumn is a sad time for my children – they’re heartbroken at the idea of the flowers and the trees ‘dying’.  Because of this, the first signs of spring are super exciting for them! We walk through the park on the way to school so they can see the blossom trees flowering and the new leaf buds on the trees.  During the Easter holidays we’ll be going to see other signs of spring and of new life.

Bluebells are the UK’s best-loved wild flowers, and they flower between mid-April and late May.  They completely transform our woodland in springtime, creating carpets of intense blue.  Half of the world’s bluebells are here in the UK, and the children and I will be going to Beckenham Place Park, South-east London, to see the spectacular display there

London’s city farms are currently welcoming their newest members and we’ll be going along to see the new lambs, ducklings and chicks too. Surrey Docks Farm is a family favourite, but Godstone Farm and Christmas Tree farm in Orpington are also recommended!

For anyone planning to go and see bluebells, remember that they are protected in the UK and picking them is highly discouraged.

The Passion

We have not been to The Passion of Jesus in Tragalgar Square before, but will definitely be going this year.  It’s a Passion play put on by the wonderful Wintershall players every year.  Over 20,000 people travel to Trafalgar Square in central London every Good Friday to watch the free 90-minute production.  They have two performances on the day – 12 noon and 3:15, and large screens are provided to maximise visibility, and there are BSL interpreters. Due to its being a realistic interpretation, they advise parental guidance. 

National Gallery

One of our favourite school holiday activities is to go to the National Gallery and take part in their holiday activities. They do a Messy Monday and Talking Tuesday both of which are amazing.  They’re aimed at under-8s and the lady who usually runs them, Jacqui Ansell, is wonderful.  The sessions focus on one painting from the museum and Jacqui usually starts by telling the story of the painting. There’s soft play, sensory play, crafts, painting, dressing up…

The drop-in sessions they run on Tuesday – Thursday are incredible.  I don’t mind admitting that most of my kids’ artwork ends up in the recycling bin after a couple of weeks, but every single thing we have made at the National Gallery sessions is still in the house, and most of it is still on display.  Upon arrival you’re given a pack containing sheets of paper, colouring pencils and an information sheet which is a map of the museum with a series of paintings to go and look at and instructions to copy a particular detail from each.  At the end of it we make something. In the past we’ve made a mobile, angel wings, a horse sculpture, silhouette puppets… and they’re usually big projects that the children are really proud of.  I highly recommend it. 

They usually also run apprentice workshops, run by a professional artist.  My sister has been to several of them and has enjoyed them all! 

The National Gallery website will let you know everything they’ve got going on  

Tall Ships Regatta

The ever-popular Tall Ships Regatta returns to London this April.  We are lucky enough to live a short 15-minute bicycle ride from Greenwich, and attend this event every time it takes place.
During the Tall Ships Festival a fleet of more than 30 ships spends the weekend in the Maritime Greenwich and Royal Arsenal Woolwich riverfronts.  The crews prepare for their 7,000 nautical mile race to Canada, and those of us on dry land have four days of festivities, including cruises aboard the ships, beautiful fireworks displays every night and maritime themed activities in both town centres.

Resurrection Garden

I recently discovered Resurrection Gardens on Pinterest.  It’s a wonderful way to talk about Christ every day during Holy Week.  Every part of it is used to talk about God and Jesus, going through the Creation story, the Flood, the Nativity, Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, and finally the Resurrection. This is another one we’ll be trying for the first time this year.  A quick Google search will bring up countless tutorials - there are so many different ways of doing them, depending on the time and materials at your disposal!

Easter Egg Hunt

For as long as I can remember we have had an Easter Egg Hunt at my grandparents’ house at the beginning of Easter.  I have wonderful memories of searching high and low in the garden for the small foil-wrapped eggs, competing with my cousins to find as many as possible.  Now I hide the eggs rather than search for them but I love watching my children run around the same garden that I searched in with my younger siblings and cousins.  If the weather allows, the Egg Hunt is preceded by a big family barbecue, and is usually the first of the year as the weather finally starts to improve.

I hope some of our activities serve as inspiration for you and your families.  Happy Easter to all!