Heavy going!

Today, I’m having a go at weightlifting! Vincent is on hand for safety and to help add the weights.

ratvaark is on a mat with vincent, with a set of weights

So, let me try this with just one weight on each end…

ratvaark tucks his snozzle under the bar, with one weight on each end

And…. Hup!

Ratvaark has lifted the weight

Ok, let’s try two weights at each end… Yes, that’s ok… A bit wobbly….

ratvaark has lifted the heavier bar, but not so high

How about three at each end? Er….. No. I can’t shift it at all!

Ratvaark has his snozzle pinned under the bar of weights

Hey Vincent, why don’t you have a go now?

Vincent puts his snozzle under a bar with two weights on

Well! I think you’re very strong Vincent, but I’m not sure about the bar!

vincent lifts the weights but the bar bends dramatically under the weight


Not Cross Buns!

I came to see Mrs Human, and said I had noticed a lack of Hot Cross Buns today, and could she hurry up with them please.

Ratvaark looks at the camera

And she said, that because she’s on a diet, and Mr Human can’t eat them, there were no hot cross buns.

A close up of ratvaark

No. Hot. Cross. Buns.

An extreme close up of Ratvaark

Well, I’m not having that. So I went to Ofelia to ask if she could bake some. And she said she couldn’t because she hadn’t got any yeast. But maybe we could work something out…

Ratvaark talks to Ofelia

So we went hunting in the freezer and found some crumpets….

Ofelia and ratvaark find a pack of crumpets in the freezer

And then Ofelia found the spices she needed in the spice rack, and we rolled them to the chopping board.

Ofelia sits in a spice rack

They roll jars of spice across the worktop

Ofelia spread some butter on the defrosted crumpet.

Ofelia spreads butter on the crumpet

And we sprinkled on some cinnamon and mixed spice.

They sprinkle cinnamon from a spoon

They sprinkle mixed spice from a jar

And Ofelia poked dried fruit into some of the holes.

Ofelia sticks raisins from a little pile onto the crumpet

Then it went under the grill to melt the butter and spices together.

Ratvaark and ofelia watch the mini oven

Well, it smells very nice! But what about the cross?

The crumpet is brown on top

Ah, well done Ofelia! You don’t normally have icing on a hot cross bun, but the normal flour and water wouldn’t really work on this. Anyway. We like icing.

Ofelia has a tube of icing ready to pipe

There! It’s bit different, but it’s got all the right stuff in it! We are calling it a Hot Crosspet. I hope you have plenty of proper Hot Cross Buns!

Ratvaark and Ofelia show off the crumpet with a white cross iced on top


Well, today is St Patrick’s Day. St Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland. Born in Roman Britain, he was kidnapped and sold as a slave in Ireland. He escaped, but he went back to Ireland to preach Christianity. Which was quite a new thing back then.

Ratvaark is dressed in a robe as St Patrick, with a gold halo, preaching from a stage

He used the 3 leaves of the Shamrock plant to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish people, and so people often wear a sprig of Shamrock to celebrate St Patrick’s Day.

Ratvaark is wearing a spring of shamrock with three leaves

There is also a legend that he commanded all the snakes to leave Ireland!

A snake is slithering towards Ratvaark. Arnold’s ears have flown up in surprise

And it’s true there are no native snakes in Ireland to this day – but in fact there never were, as they didn’t make it back to Ireland after the last Ice Age.

The snake is heading away, carrying a little bundle tied to a stick

Hold on, says Microvaark, here’s another snake!

Microvaark looks at a long blue snake in the grass

Oh! It’s not a snake, it’s Ernest’s snozzle! He’s fallen asleep!

The snake is revealed to be Ernest’s long snozzle as he lies asleep beside the stage

Ernest is very sorry to have fallen asleep, but he said the sermon was a bit long, and a bit boring in parts.

Ratvaark looks down at Ernest who looks sorry.

Never mind Ernest. Wake yourself up with a snack and a nice restorative pint of Guinness.

Ratvaark gives Ernest a biscuit and a glass of black with a white top on it.

In fact, let’s all have a little drink, and Peggy can entertain us with some Irish dancing.

There is a table of drinks and all the vaarks watch Peggy dance in a green and orange dress as Dim plays the fiddle

So, if you’re celebrating today, stay safe, and we wish you all Sláinte!, or “Health!”

Ratvaark addresses the camera



It’s Pancake Day again!

Well, it’s Shrove Tuesday, and you know what that means… Pancakes! I’m just looking up the recipe.

Ratvaark looks up a recipe for pancakes in a cookery book

I need milk, flour and an egg. All measured out neatly.

Ratvaark looks at a bowl of flour, milk in a jug and an egg.

Put them all in a bowl, and whisk together until there aren’t any lumps.

Ratvaark stands on the kettle to hold a whisk in the bowl

Then pour the batter into a jug, to make it easy to pour into the pan!

Ratvaark has a measuring jug with batter in it.

Now, carefully grease a frying pan with a little oil, and heat it up.

Ratvaark looks at a frying pan on the hob

When it’s hot, pour in enough batter to make a thin layer on the bottom of the pan, and let it cook. Now, I’m going to need some help…

Ratvaark looks at the pan with a layer of batter cooking in it.

Right then everybody. Grab the handle, and when I say so, flip the pan up to toss the pancake. Ready? One, two, three. FLIP!

All the vaarks are gathered along the handle of the pan holding on to it.

Wheeee! Up it goes! And… oh…

The vaarks are all looking up in the air.

Down it comes! Help! It’s gone all dark!

The pancake has landed over the heads of all the vaarks, except Nano and Micro.

What are we going to do, says Micro? Well, says Nano, there’s only one thing we can do…

Micro talks to Nano

We’ll have to eat them free!

Nano and Micro look at a bottle of lemon juice and a bag of sugar.


Super Bowl!

Winston just popped in to say it’s Super Bowl Day. What’s that? I asked. He says he doesn’t know, but maybe we should see if we can find our own Super Bowl? Well, why not, let’s have a look.

Ratvaark and Winston are talking

Hmm. It’s a bowl. It’s nice enough, but I don’t think it’s Super.

They look at a vaark scale sugar bowl

No, Winston, not that one.

They look up at a toilet bowl

No, this is just a cereal bowl.

They look at a small bowl with tubs of cereal in the background

Just bowls for mixing in.

they look at a stack of mixing bowls in a cupboard

Those are the bowls the Humans have their supper in. Supper bowls. Too many Ps.

They look at a stack of pasta dishes

What’s that Winston, you think you’ve found it?

Winston looks at a bowl, and we can see an S painted on the side

Ah. No. Nearly, but not quite.

The bowl is turned round to reveal the word Soup.

Well, I don’t know if we’re ever going to find one Winston.

Ratvaark and Winston talk to each other

Winston? What are you looking at behind me?

Winston is looking at something behind Ratvaark. We see the edge of a bowl

Well! That’s what I call a Superbowl! Hooray!

They look at a huge bowl, full of biscuits

Right, Winston, you go and fetch the clan. I’ll watch over the Superbowl.

Ratvaark tells Winston to go and fetch the others.

Nom nommmfffmfm nnffmmfmf.

Ratvaark is head down in the bowl of biscuits

A haggis huntin’ we will go!

Well, it is the 25th January, which is Burns’ Night! So Nano and I have put our kilts on, and are going on an expedition to hunt a haggis. Only, we’re not quite sure what a haggis actually is…

Ratvaark and Nano are wearing kilts and have ratvaark’s rucksack

Ernest says, we will probably need a big net to catch it in!

Ernest brings them a fishing net made from a piece of net curtain

Winston says, he’s heard the haggis lives in the water, so we might need a fishing rod.

Winston brings a fishing rod

Matilda thinks if we are going anywhere near the water, we must take a lifebelt, and Nano’s yacht!

Matilda is wearing an orange lifebelt and Nano sits in his half-walnut boat

Hypno thinks we might need to look far away, so he’s brought us a telescope to pack.

Nano looks through a telescope Hypno has brought

Microvaark thinks the haggis might be very small, so we’ll need a magnifying glass.

Nano is magnified through a magnifying glass Micro has brought.

Bernard says he thinks there will be a lot of thick undergrowth to get through, so he’s lending us his shears.

Bernard brings a pair of garden shears

Vincent says, how will we know where we’re going without a map? Just be careful opening it in the wind….

Vincent brings a folded map

Vincent has unfolded the map which is as big as himself.

Gino says there are mountains to scale, so we’ll need a rope and grappling hook.


Esther thinks it’s bound to rain, so we better pack a brolly

Esther holds a black umbrella

Arnold, who is always safety conscious, wonders if the haggis breathes fire? So we better take an extinguisher.

Arnold gives them a fire extinguisher

Peggy thinks it’s bound to be dark by the time we get there, so we better have a torch.

Peggy shines a mini torch onto Nano

Dim wonders if the haggis can be tamed with soothing music. Better pack the gramophone. Really? OK…

Dim brings them a brass model gramophone

Fury thinks the haggis will be very fierce, so we should take a big sword to protect ourselves.

Fury brings them a long sword shaped letter opener

Ofelia says we must be polite, so we should take offer the haggis a snack and a cup of tea.

Ofelia brings a teacup and saucer, and a wrapped cafe biscuit.

Well! That’s quite a lot of stuff to pack! I can fit a fair bit in my rucksack, but the rest… well, we’ll have to take the wheelbarrow!

Ratvaark looks at the big pile of items

Ratvaark has packed a lot into his rucksack, but the bigger items remain.

All the rest of the items are packed in the wheelbarrow and Ratvaark is carrying the rucksack

Well, off we go! Through dark forests and over rocky mountains we quest.

Ratvaark and Nano push the barrow though a forest

They push the barrow in front of a rocky backdrop

Well! It looks like we’re on the right track Nano!

Nano sits on Ratvaark’s nose to read a sign that says “Haggis” with an arrow pointing onwards

Oh! Here is is. It’s not fierce, or tiny, or a fish, or firebreathing. It’s just a sort of meat pudding!

Ratvaark and Nano look at a wrapped haggis

“The good news is”, says Nano, “we don’t have to share our biscuit with it!”

Ratvaark and Nano share the biscuit they packed.

Everyone is very pleased to see our haggis when we get it back. There’ll be plenty to go round!

All the vaarks are admiring the haggis

But having carried the rucksack and pushed the barrow all that way, I just want a lie down!

Ratvaark lies flat on the floor, tired out.

Advaark 2020 Day 21: Silly string!

We’re going to have a go at some string art today! We’ve got string, pins, and a template. We’re going to stick them into a piece of balsa, painted black. You could use corrugated card, or polystyrene.

Fury, Ratvaark and Nano have gathered all the stuff together.

First thing to do is to lay the template on the wood, and put pins, or nails, in round the edge. We’re putting one at each corner and a few inbetween. Fury’s got her big hammer to tap them in with.

The vaarks lay a paper star on the wood and put pins at the corners

Fury taps the pins in with her big hammer

Now, Nano is going to take the thread and go for a walk in and out of the pins! He goes all round the edge first, then back and forwards to fill in with a random pattern.

Nano has the gold thread round his middle and is taking it round the pinsThe thread has gone all round the edge of the star

Nano has filled in the shape with random threads.

Now Nano, you can pick it up. What? It’s too heavy? It can’t be, it’s only balsa!

Fury and Ratvaark look on as Nano tries to lift the piece.

Oh Fury! I think you’ve nailed it to the floor!

Ratvaark looks at Fury

Advaark 2020 Day 7: A box of delights!

Fury and I are going to make up a hamper! Hampers are lovely gifts because everyone likes a treat!

ratvaark and fury pose with a basket and lots of foodstuffs.

It’s a good idea to put some shredded paper in the basket, to nestle things into. Here’s some chocolate coins, and a nice pot of homemade jam.

Fury sits on a pile of shredded paper in the basket

the vaarks put a bag of chocolate coins and a jar of jam into the shredded paper

Now, here’s a problem. Make sure the things you want to put in the basket aren’t bigger than the basket!

fury looks on as ratvaark tries to fit a packet of fancy biscuits that’s too long for the basket

Fury sits on a bar of chocolate balanced on top of the biscuits, all too big for the basket

What’s that Fury, you’ve got an idea?

Fury looks down and talks to ratvaark

Well, Fury is right. A basket is a very nice and useful present on its own! We’ll just tidy up this other stuff…

fury and ratvaark eat the chocolate coins next to an empty basket

Advaark 2020 Day 4: A stitch in time.

Ofelia, Peggy and I are going to make some decorations out of felt. We’ve got felt, embroidery thread, scissors and needles.

Ratvaark, Peggy and Ofelia have all the items gathered together

First of all, we’re cutting out shapes from the felt. We’re keeping it simple!

Peggy has a tree shape cut from green felt, and Ofelia cuts a star from light blue felt

Now, we’re each going to sew a stitch round the edge. Ofelia is doing a running stitch, Peggy is blanket stitching, and I’m doing a whip stitch.

Each one is stitching around their shape. Ratvaark is sewing something in brown and white but we can’t see what.

There, those are done! Simple but understated. Of course you could add beads or sequins, or more stitches.

Ofelia holds up her star with white stitching, and Peggy has edged her tree shape with red blanket stitch.

Me? Oh, I made a Christmas pudding? What’s that Ofelia, it looks like it’s got a bit missing?

Ratvaark shows off a Christmas Pudding with white cream on top

Ofelia looks at the bottom edge of the pudding where a bit is missing

Well, it’s a Christmas Pudding that’s been nibbled by vaarks!

As ratvaark explains, Peggy throws her arms in the air.