Click here for Chapter One
Chapter Two: Being independent
Monday 4 November
We are doing a project called Operation Independence! We have to plan and cook our own meals all week! This morning Mum gave us each £20 and we went to the supermarket and bought all the food we think we’ll need! We each had our own trolleys, we had to check the prices of different foods to make sure we had enough money.
We have to keep a record of everything we do so that we can write a report at the end of the week!
Tuesday 5 November
In geography today we have been memorising all the countries in Europe and making a map with them all on. It’s not easy to remember what all the countries are, there are so many! There’s a tiny little one which I keep forgetting the name of.
Later I baked a chocolate cake which is one of my favourite recipes, the edges are wonderfully crispy and the icing is really thick, it’s called chocolate fudge icing. I really like spreading it out over the top of the cake.
Jude made Hungarian potatoes for her dinner, with broccoli, and I made Sosmix, new potatoes and baked beans. I love baked beans, they are my favourite food. And Sosmix is delicious. All you have to do is add water to the powder in the box, and make your sausages out of the mixture! Then you can cook them on the grill or in the oven or you can fry them. I made mine on the grill because Jude was using the frying pan to fry her onions and tomatoes, and the oven to bake her Hungarian potatoes. Hungary is one of the countries we need to remember for geography!
Wednesday 6 November
After swimming today we cycled through the park to the library. We don’t usually go that way, I have never been through that park before. It had a stream running through it which had some shopping trolleys in it, which is so sad for the birds and fishes, if there are any. I wonder why anyone would put them there? We rode our bikes over a bridge across the stream, and then took a short cut through the supermarket car park.
At the library we chose some books from the non-fiction section about animals because we are starting our own projects. I borrowed books about apes, and Jude borrowed books about foxes. I also got Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ! It is the longest book I’ve ever seen! I haven’t read any of the other Harry Potter books, but this one looks really interesting. It’s got a red and yellow phoenix on the front.
When we got home we had lunch and then we read David Copperfield. Sadly David has come home from his holiday with Peggotty to find that nothing in his house is the way he remembers it, and his mum is all stressed and uncomfortable.
Later on I made mashed potato pie with textured vegetable protein and tomatoes and onions and carrots and gravy. It’s difficult to cut onions without your eyes watering – I tried wearing sunglasses but it didn’t help. I stirred the gravy because it gets lumpy if you don’t stir it.
I’ve started reading my Harry Potter book, it’s good so far, it’s funny and exciting. I read some of it out to Mum and Dad, and they like it too. Jude is reading Emma by Jane Austen.
For my dinner today I made pasta and pasta sauce and lettuce and tomatoes and cucumber! This project is so much fun! It’s great, I am pretending I’m a witch who lives in a big house full of witches, and it’s my job to follow the budget and feed us all. Jude made pasta and vegetable hotpot. It was really sunny today.
In the morning I did knitting. I’m running out of pink yarn for my pig, but Mum says that’s okay, because I can use brown because some pigs are pink and brown.
In the afternoon I read some more Harry Potter. I really like all the descriptions of the different characters, Ron is very funny and Hermione is so caring. They all live in a haunted castle together.
Friday 8 November
We are studying the Celtic people in history. They were artists who made beautiful carvings of intricate knots and things. Mum read from the book to us and then we answered questions and made drawings from photos in the book.
In the afternoon we worked on our own projects. I am still making my knitted pig, which I found very challenging today because I had to increase and decrease stitches to make a leg for him. Jude was sewing beads onto her caterpillar, which is getting very pretty. I asked her if she thought she would put wings on the caterpillar so that sometimes he could turn into a butterfly, but she said that would be impossible.
We had our geography test, we had to label each country on a blank map of Europe! I got twenty-six right! That’s more than half, because there are forty four countries in Europe. Next we are going to learn all the counties in the UK!
We also gave Dmitri a bath with mint and tea tree shampoo which keeps fleas away. Dmitri looks so sweet and little when he’s wet. It takes all three of us to give him a bath because he tries to climb out the whole time.
Monday 11 November
We visited The City Museum and Art Gallery and saw paintings and sculptures by an artist called Richard Barnard. I really like pottery sculptures, I bet it would be fun to make them. My favourite was a lovely sculpture of a sitting woman. I think it would be nice if sculptures were painted, because most of the time they are grey or brown, because that’s what colour the clay is.
We got some books from the library about Batik and Shakespeare and a book called Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontё.
When we got home we read Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream which is about a naughty fairy who casts a spell on the fairy queen because he loves her, but all kinds of things go wrong, and everybody falls in love with the wrong person.
Tuesday 12 November
We read to the end of chapter six of Wuthering Heights. It’s a great story, everyone is very mysterious and dramatic. I think Heathcliff is a bit scary, although you can’t blame him for getting cross with Mr Lockwood, he’s a very annoying character, I would get cross with him if I was Heathcliff. Nelly is my favourite character so far.
We have been writing out our reports for Operation Independence in our best handwriting. A whole week of shopping and planning and cooking takes a long time to write out neatly.
Wednesday 13 November
We did Batik today! We made our own dye by picking mint leaves from the garden and boiling them in water. Then we melted red and yellow wax crayons in a pot over some hot water, the same way you melt chocolate. We painted leaves onto a tea towel with wax, and then we let that go cold and used our mint dye to dye the tea towel green! Once that is dry you are supposed to remove the wax with an iron, but we haven’t done that yet.
In the afternoon we went to Nanny’s house and did cookery! Jude made samosas and I made spicy garlic mushrooms fried in batter. Sadly I don’t like them, they taste too spicy. I will feed them to Dad, because he likes things like that.Thursday 14 November
Jude wrote a newspaper report for English today, which is one of her favourite things to do because one day she wants to be a reporter, like Lois Lane. Mum said I should write an essay describing what happened on our trip to the Robin Hood Pageant. I used a lot of adjectives. Luckily I had written about it in my diary, which helped me remember the details.
Later on Mum made a still life for us to draw using a fruit bowl and things. She showed us how to hold a pencil differently to the way you do when you are writing words and numbers. You hold it gently so that you don’t press hard.
Friday 15 November
I am making a dress! I’ve got a whole lot of blue fabric and a pattern to follow. The first thing you have to do is cut out all the pieces of paper, pin them onto your fabric and cut around them. That’s what I did today. Next time I will sew the seams with the sewing machine.
While I was doing that, Jude made an apple crumble. I love apple crumble, I love the crunchy top and the soft fruit. We had it after dinner with custard which Mum made.
I also had a times tables test today, and I scored nine out of twelve! Then we made drawings of Dmitri, which was wonderful because he’s so handsome. He’s black and white mostly, but I coloured in his brown eyes, his blue collar and his pink tongue.
In the evening we got dressed up and sat on the settee in a pose for Mum to paint us. I love being painted, I wore a scarf and a purple dress, and Jude wore her stripey top and Mum’s beautiful orange dress. It’s like being in the time of Robin Hood when they had to paint pictures of each other because they hadn’t invented the camera yet.
It’s not finished yet, Mum says it will take several sittings for her to do the whole painting. So far she has painted us all in lines, and started to colour us in, but there aren’t any details yet.
Monday 18 November
This morning for English I wrote a letter in formal language, and Jude wrote poetry. I like writing letters, it makes me feel like I’m in a story, because I imagine all kinds of mystery and adventure could be started by a letter. Jude has a book which is entirely written in letters, it’s called P.S. Longer Letter Later. That’s a great title because all the words begin with L, which is alliteration.
After lunch Mum and I worked on sewing the bodice of my dress, which was really complicated. I’m so afraid I’ll sew it wrong, there’s lots of pieces to sew together and none of them look like pieces of a dress.
While I was sewing Jude made two gingerbread cakes. We had some after dinner and it is delicious! I love gingerbread cake, it’s so sticky! I like that it’s soft inside and crispy like toffee on the outside.
Wednesday 20 November
Today in science we tested our rainwater for pollution and acid rain. We had these special pieces of paper, called “Universal indicator paper” which you dip in the water and then it changes colour depending on the pH levels. This is all to do with Hydrogen ions, and how many there are in the water. Too many mean it is acidic and too few make it basic. Ordinary water should be somewhere in the middle, which is called neutral.
So, if the rain water was basic, the test papers would turn blue or purple, and if the rain water was acid the papers would turn red or pink or orange. If water is neutral, the papers turn green! And that’s what happened. We did the test several times because it’s fun.
For cookery we made party food. We made a big bakewell tart and twelve miniature ones, sosmix rolls and a big sponge cake. Mum helped us make pastry for the bakewell tarts and for the sosmix rolls, and I put the jam in the bottom of the bakewell tarts, Jude made the cake mixture and poured it into the tins.
We put it all in the oven to bake and while it was cooking we cleaned up the kitchen and washed up the bowls and spoons and things.
We went to bed early so we could read our books. I have already read thirty-seven pages of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix but there are still hundreds of pages left, so I know I won’t finish it before it has to go back to the library. It’s a great story! Hermione likes knitting just like me! Except she does magic knitting. She has a magic cat with one red eye and one green eye, who is really grumpy. I would like it if the story was all just happy, but sadly there are some scary characters too.
Thursday 21 November
This morning we read some more David Copperfield, it is such a good story we just wanted to keep going. We took it in turns to read it out loud. Poor David keeps getting in trouble with Mr Murdstone and his horrible sister who has taken over the house. At the end of the chapter we read today, chapter four, Peggotty is whispering to him through the keyhole of his bedroom door, where he has been locked, and she tells him he is going to be sent away the next day to school. It’s so sad because the three of them were so happy before Mr and Miss Murdstone arrived.
This afternoon we made salt dough Christmas tree decorations! Salt dough is excellent. We made round ball ornaments and rolled the dough out and cut shapes like bells and circles and little people. Then we made holes in them so that once they are baked we can thread strings through and hang them on the tree.
Then Jude worked with Mum going through her mental arithmetic test, and I did a beat the clock maths test in my room at my desk. I had to clear my clothes off my chair first because I keep forgetting to put them away – I always think I’ll wear them again tomorrow so hanging them seems a waste of time but the next day I choose something different and eventually I’ve got nowhere to sit.
I finished reading my book I Want Doesn’t Get! I really enjoyed it, it’s different to other books I’ve read. It’s all about this boy called Julian, who lives with his sisters, and doesn’t know where his mum has gone. I liked it because it had lots of little details about what Julian thinks about what’s happening, a lot of the pages had little notations at the bottom of each page, explaining words and phrases.
Tuesday 26 November
This morning we went swimming and I swam a whole width without touching the floor! Jude swam a whole length without stopping!
We went to the library and I chose some books to read since I finished I Want Doesn’t Get on Thursday, and I had to return the Harry Potter book because it was due back at the library. I don’t mind taking a break from it, it’s really long.
I borrowed a book called Find The White Horse by Dick King Smith which is about two dogs and a cat and a pigeon who get lost from their homes and have to try to find their way back. It’s called Find The White Horse because one of the dogs lived in a house on a hill with a chalk horse carved into it, so he knows where he’s heading, and the other animals just want to come too.
In history we are studying Boudicca who was a Celtic queen. Celtic women were equal to Celtic men, so when her husband, the Iceni King, died she became the leader of their people.
But the Romans didn’t believe women could own property, so they tried to overthrow her by attacking her, her daughters and the village they lived in. So she got very angry and she rampaged the country collecting people to help take back the land which belonged to the Celts. The Romans were really bad and tried to fight her army but the warrior queen was too sneaky for them.
After lessons Jude wrote in her diary. Jude has a diary with a padlock on it, which she got for Christmas. It has stickers and stamp pens which make love hearts and exclamation marks. I have seen it and it’s really tidy, she writes in different coloured pens and her writing is much neater than mine. And she’s really good at eking out her stickers. I can’t help sticking stickers nearly as soon as I get them.
Wednesday 27 November
After breakfast and chores we each read a chapter of Little Town on the Prairie out loud and then we had English and read chapter six of David Copperfield together. Mum set us homework to read chapter seven and answer an essay question by next Wednesday.
We had cereal for lunch today. Jude got the free gift from the box, which was a plastic football player. He came with stickers which you could use to make his uniform stripey and decorated. Jude took the stickers and used them to decorate a toy car instead. It’s very good, it looks all ready for a demolition derby.
For needlework we are making cross-stitch tapestries. They will be beautiful when we’re finished. They’re so delicate and complicated. They take a really long time to stitch.
The salt dough ornaments we made last week are ready to paint now so we painted them red and yellow and blue and green. I tried to write Merry Christmas on one, but it was too small, so I wrote Xmas instead. The holes we made for the strings are a little bit small, but we can make them bigger with a needle. When the paint is dry we can varnish them with pva glue.
Thursday 28 November
I have read Chapter Seven now, it’s all about David being at boarding school and the friends he makes. He has two friends, Steerforth and Traddles, which is lucky because the teachers are horrible to him. At the end of the chapter Mr Peggotty and Ham come to visit David, and they meet Steerforth.
I don’t think I have ever written an essay before, and I thought it was spelled S.A. Mum said that lots of people think it’s spelled S.A. when they first hear the word, and that a school friend of her’s wrote “S.A.s” in big letters on the front of her exercise book in the first year of secondary school.
Mum says an essay has to have an introduction, a middle and a conclusion. The beginning is where you say what it is that you are planning to prove in the essay, the middle is where you explain why your point is true, and use quotes to prove it. The conclusion is where you explain that you have now proven your point.
Friday 29 November
In history we studied more about Boudicca and her battles with the Romans. She sounds brilliant. I like that she had long red hair.
This afternoon we made treats for the Christmas bazaar! I made chocolate hazelnuts and fudge, while Jude made chocolate oaty treats and peppermint fondants. Fondant is great because you can do anything with it. You can dip it in chocolate or stick leaves to it, or make it shaped like mice, or turn it pink with beetroot juice. The fudge was so nice I wanted to eat it all.
I am really looking forward to the bazaar because it’s so much fun. There is always a raffle and a bric-a-brac stall and a stall where you can buy knitted tree decorations and a games stall and a lucky dip where you close your eyes and pick a prize.
They also have a mystery jars stall which has lots of glass jars wrapped in Christmas paper and you pay fifty pence to buy a jar without knowing what’s in it. Sometimes the jar will have cotton wool in it, or sweets or toys or buttons or jam or anything. Once I got a jar full of mint imperials, which I wasn’t too keen on at first, but after I ate some I really started to like them. They also sometimes have a game where you have to name a teddy bear, which is how Jude won those bears we drew in art.