Freddie loves dressing up and he most loves to dress up as a vampire. I’ve always loved vampires too – I read Bram Stokers Dracula at Uni and was even in the Dracula Spectacular at school. So, I knew that the legend of Dracula came from the real life historical character of Vlad the Impaler who was from modern day Romania. As I started to research Romania – I discovered that we have a Romanian restaurant 15 minutes down the road! So, enjoy our pretend visit to Romania through the theme of food and crafts and gymnastics and vampires and castles with our kids.
I remember reading Bram Stokers Dracula when I was at University (and its currently free for your kindle on Amazon if you follow the link). I also loved the movie too (even Keanu Reeves’ British accent). I am aware that the myth of Dracula, while set in Transylvania which is in modern day Romania is about as accurate as the stories about Robin Hood; but our days are all about fun and legends are always fun.
As such, we embraced the stories of Dracula by dressing up as vampires for the day – we even bought vampire teeth from eBay.
The legends of Dracula come from the stories of Vlad the Impaler, a real medieval ruler and, according to Wikipedia, a national hero in his home country of Romania. Now I can’t promise any authenticity in our portrayal of him but Freddie very much enjoyed his role (and insisted on going Trick or Treating unseasonably). In the evening Mark and I watched a documentary about Vlad the Impaler and I was fascinated to learn about him.
Penny is very much into the Horrible Histories at the moment and so, with the kids, we all enjoyed this fun clip about the real life ruler and it was a little less graphic too.
Not just because of the vampires, I assume, but Romania turns out to be very famous for its medieval castles! We have a whole heap of amazing castles an hour away in Wales but after a mega camping trip, we were pretty tired and so we decided to stay local and to find a small but brilliant medieval church just down the road.
Not only did we find a church, but also an amazingly atmospheric graveyard. I was merrily taking photos of my spooky little vampires when Penny and I happened to read a grave stone. The grave was for a five year old girl called Alice and I realised that this wasn’t a movie set but a real place with real grief.
So we stopped being vampires and instead we picked flowers to leave on Alice’s grave. I like to think she would have enjoyed the game.
My husband told us all about the first gymnast in Olympic history to score perfect tens! She was Romanian and her name was Nadia Comăneci. In her honour the kids did some gymnastics in the garden and we scored Penny a perfect ten for her magnificent cartwheel. I am not entirely sure that Elsa was at the 1976 Olympics (!) but Freddie was very insistent and so I’m willing to accept her presence.
Afterwards we all sat down to watch the first ever perfect gymnastics routine. It was, unsurprisingly, brilliant.
I do love a crafty project and so I looked up traditional Romanian crafts. One of those crafts was basket weaving. Now I often make crafts up from scratch but after a tough term as a high school teacher I needed a little help and so was very grateful to Baker Ross for providing an awesome kit with everything we needed in it.
This was definitely one of the best kits we have had and I love the fact that they have everything you need in it. Penny made a Rainbow basket and I made one in the colours of the Romanian flag. There was something very satisfying about this kit, but it was too difficult for little fingers and so I printed Freddie off a Romanian flag to colour instead.
This recipe really appealed to me, especially since we could use fresh strawberries in it. We bought the strawberries from our local greengrocer as we are really trying to support small and local at the moment. It’s no secret that we love to bake when exploring a theme like Romania with our kids and this was a great recipe as it really got the kids involved with laying up the fruit and the cake mix.
HOWEVER – I have to be honest – the timing in the recipe didn’t work and it needed to be on a lower heat and cooked for about an hour. No matter I cut the edges off and they were delicious and, despite the raw middle, I would make it again. And I’ve been living off the edge bits for a couple of days – they are delicious.
We have always been spoiled with amazing restaurants in Liverpool but there weren’t any Romanian ones. To my delight however, we found one even nearer in Southport called The Grill Hunters.
Without doubt this is the most welcomed we have ever been. The warmth and hospitality was amazing, the food was delicious and the owners were keen to tell us all about Romania. They even bought us Romanian chocolate. I had the mici which was a delicious spiced Romanian sausage, but the true hero was the papanash – which was a sort of doughnut, served with nutella or cream cheese and berries. It was (Penny declared) the greatest dessert in the world. I must say – I agree! The kids loved the Romania theme!
PAinting dracula’s castle
I thought that we had finished our pretend trip to Romania, but Penny’s art tutor, Phil had seen our photos on facebook and thought it would be fun to paint Dracula’s castle and continue the theme with the kids. The two of them worked very hard over an hour to replicate it. If you aren’t lucky enough to have an art teacher this fab, then YouTube can oblige with some brilliant instructional videos like this one.
Win a gymnast barbie
In honour of our pretend visit to Romania through food and crafts and gymnastics and castles and Nadia Comăneci‘s perfect score at the Olympics; here is a chance to win a rhythm gymnastic Barbie!