I strongly recommend the Woodcraft Folk to all home educators. Yes, it might involve driving a distance to your local group, plus a traffic jam through Dunstable, but believe me, it is entirely worth it.
I can come over all liberal, celebrate how there are no pointless brown uniforms, no stupid oaths of fealty to God, Queen or Country (yay for the Republican side of the brain), and no spinster Brown Owl to judge the state of your knots for your Weaver's Badge, but the truth of the WF's attraction for me is utterly straightforward. They take a kid off me at short notice, dump her in a wood, and let her get on with the co-operative, team-building challenges she must surely face if she is to ever get out of a difficult situation alive.
One of these challenges is to find your own food. I quite fancy the idea that all mini meat-eating Woodies will have to learn how to track, catch, kill, gut, skin and cook a rabbit (there would be a lot more vegetarians by Sunday night), but to their credit the WF are much more pragmatic even than this. They muster the kids into groups, bung them thirty quid, and drive them to Sainsbury's. The groups must then organise themselves to buy, cook and feed their clan for the entire weekend. If the group decides to blow the thirty quid in Cadbury's Creme Eggs, so be it. They'll trade Creme Eggs for cucumbers come morning (so the theory goes).
Shark is thrilled by this whole idea of dinner autonomy, which makes me wonder what restrictions she thinks she lives under round here (I suppose they do camp fire, while I do setting the tea towel on fire), but I am hugely grateful to the woodies for dreaming up this type of scheme and putting it into practice.
While Shark is doing that, I locate a Saturday morning wildlife group for my remaining children. This particular group has been remarkably coy about its location, activities and costs, so I hope they are up to something like hunt sabotage, or keying the cars of nest thieves and shoving shit through the letterboxes of bird poisoners. Anyhow, I find them, and they are doing no such thing. It is pond dipping (again).
But I am delighted to report that for the first time in what feels like a century I spend a large part of the day with no children to look after at all, no-one to watch over my actions, no-one grass me up to Social Services, and no-one to blab what I do down the Co-op. I'm not telling you, either.