Fab birthday

Thank you everyone – I have had a very special birthday! This is just a quick post to celebrate my family’s amazing creativity – I just had to share these with you!

Megan made me this lovely birthday card


and painted this picture of the Glenfinnan Viaduct which we saw a few weeks ago.


Aidan made me this stunning birthday card

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and painted this picture of the wildlife and scenery of the Ardnamurchan Peninsula where we stayed a few weeks ago.


Carolyn put together this excellent sewing kit for me – so I can stop borrowing hers! This is just the start – there are quite a few more items yet to be found.


Heather embroidered these amazing pictures: the first of Philae and Rosetta on Comet 67P, and the second of the Curiosity landing on Mars complete with sky crane!


My parents sent me this beautiful book of writing by “new Kiwis” – migrant women in New Zealand – from a workshop run by a friend of mine.


Thank you everyone for sharing the fruits of your creativity with me! (and sorry for the poor photography…)

Arduino cake

It was Aidan’s 10th birthday party on the weekend, so a birthday cake was in order. And what better subject than an Arduino Uno?


This is a 3:1 scale model of an Arduino in vanilla buttermilk sponge, with coloured fondant icing (some dark chocolate was mixed in for the black components), royal icing details, and real (inedible) LEDs. Here it is from a few other angles:



The USB type B socket, power socket, and ATmega328P are all separate blocks of iced cake attached with buttercream. The USB socket needed a couple of toothpicks to hold it in place.


Four LEDs with long wires attached were inserted from the underside of the cake through holes made with chopsticks. These were driven from a real Arduino Uno running a simple program which simulated the flashing of the RX and TX lights during loading, followed by signalling “Happy 10th Birthday Aidan” in Morse code on the pin-13 LED on the board. See the video.


The result was well worth it – one very impressed young man!


Check out some of the other cakes we’ve done.

Things to do with kids in Northumbria

In April the four of us – me, Carolyn, Aidan (7), and Megan (5) – spent a week in Northumbria. We stayed just south of Berwick, and had a fabulous time. Here are some of the things we did, in no particular order.

Walking along the beach, looking in rock pools and marvelling at the geology of the skerrs at Cocklawburn Beach.

Playing in the playground and eating icecream on the promenade at Spital.

Staying in a cottage at North Ancroft Farm. Green fields in all directions, and the light of Lindisfarne winking in the twilight.

Exploring the treasures of Bamburgh Castle. It felt like a European castle – still full of art, function, accessories, and history. The archaeology room’s Norse games caught Megan’s and my attention too.

Learning the history of Oswald and Aidan, at Lindisfarne.

Walking in the Northumberland National Park. We had a very windy walk to Linhope Spout waterfall.

Exploring the multitudinous activities of Cragside (National Trust property) – especially the labyrinth, the gardens, and the inventor’s house.

And here are some things that were recommended to us, which we’ll try next time: