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We’ve just come out of the penultimate weekend of the summer holidays and it feels like someone has pressed fast forward. No matter how hard I try I can’t help being acutely aware of the sand grains slipping through the hourglass. We’re into the final countdown…Next week I’ll walk my children to school and, instead of having S’s incomparable company for the return journey, I’ll be walking back alone. I may well be seen draped over a bench somewhere sobbing (note to self: pack a tissue).

BUT, (think-of-the-good-things-think-of-the-good-things-think-of-the-good-things) for the first time in nine years, I will have over six hours of uninterrupted time daily to fill with yoga, walking, and most importantly, some serious writing…

Anyway, let’s block out the prospect of that procrastination magnet for now and instead, muse over the fun we had this weekend. As usual we didn’t plan anything particularly special – we like to let adventures come and find us.

J and T spent much of the weekend wondering how they fared in last week’s Taekwondo belt-grading. T was testing for his senior yellow belt and J (who after much convincing, started later and discovered she LOVED it) was testing for her yellow. Competition at home is fierce, let me tell you!

Taekwondo Belt-Grading at the Abilities Centre

The rest of the weekend was taken up with sunshine, bike rides, food and movies – oh, and a hilarious desert-substitute that tested the kids’ willingness to experiment.

Following K’s gorgeous (and entirely homemade) shrimp and scallop green Thai curry – sorry, it smelt so good I completely forgot to take pictures – a full complement of clean plates prompted a conversation about how our perception and enjoyment of food is shaped by experience. We’ve always given the children whatever we’re having so they have no qualms when it comes to things like spices, shellfish and a wide range of vegetables. From a parent’s point of view this makes eating out a pleasant experience – rather than having the limited, processed fare offered by the kids menu (predictably pizza, chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, etc.) they’ll order from the adult menu and split the dish.

So we decided to test their sense of adventure, as well as taste and smell, with a blindfold taste test. We prepared bite-size samples of five different foods: some Laughing Cow cheese wedges lurking at the back of the fridge, Peanut M&M’s, mango, After Eight dinner mints, and finally, just to throw the cat among the pigeons, wasabi chocolate. Each child, eyes shielded with a tea-towel, was allowed to sniff the sample before being fed a piece. After each tasting they uncovered their eyes and recorded whether they liked it or not on their hand-drawn results cards.

They got the first three straight off. It was the taste that gave the cheese away, J said it smelt of nothing. The M&M’s and mango went down a treat – smiles all round. They identified the After Eights as Aero, but that’s only because we get the mint ones. Anticipation of the final item had them shaking in their proverbial boots – possibly because K introduced it enticingly as ‘the mystery meat’. But their bravery held true and they each ate a piece of wasabi chocolate. The chocolate taste hit first, then one by one, they registered the wasabi kick. Everyone described it as ‘spicy’ and no-one expressed dislike. We told them what it was and they immediately wanted to know ‘What’s wasabi?’

The whole exercise was a load of fun and had the added value of cementing in their heads an indelible link between enjoyment and trying new things. Over a round of chocolate milk we all agreed that, like the Christmas Day after-dinner dance-off that became a family tradition, we’ll definitely be doing it again!



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