Since we began our games in the vineyard, we have developed a few rituals that we can't do without.
Most of these involve food. Food for ourselves or the animals or pretend food that the children make.
Our first stop on our long walk from the olive grove to the ponds is to feed the hens and collect the eggs. Often, someone brings peelings from their kitchen which is a huge treat for the birds and great fun for the children to scatter about the yard.
The eggs are collected in baskets to take home and then we wander over to Bobo, the pony, to feed him some hay.
The hens invariably escape and someone notices that the herb garden has been nibbled at...
It's clear to all that the hens have been at them so we decide to make a fence with whatever we can find. There are plenty of twigs around and the stones make for good hammers. So the children set to work building a twig fence around their garden.
Having finished our jobs with the animals and the vegetable garden, it's time for a break and a picnic.
A much needed break, but also an opportunity to practice new skills.
The children squeeze orange juice which involves using a real knife to cut the oranges. They peel hard-boiled eggs (fresh from our hens) and spread homemade bread with tahini and honey from our bees. This helps them muster the energy for the final hike up the forest path, past the beehives and through the vineyard, to the little shed by the ponds.
The ponds themselves are the great attraction here, teeming with tadpoles and frogs, various insects and fish. The canes left over from pruning the vines have taken on various forms and have had many uses, but today they are definitely fishing rods. Not to fish with, but to feed… Bits of bread are tied to the end of the string and the children balance carefully on the steep bank of the pond to watch the fish nibble at the "bait". They lie on their tummies to try and feed the tadpoles, but soon realise they’re not hungry… Someone runs to the kitchen to get a little pot to catch tadpoles in and the children all peer at them through the magnifying glass. Some already look like miniature frogs: the connection between the two becomes more apparent.
Today’s game of pretend cooking involves fresh-cut grass, which does smell good enough to eat!