Thursday, 30 August 2012

Peppa Pig's Sports Day App - Review

Just as London is still in the grip of sport fever with the Olympics just finished and the Para Olympics starting a new Peppa Pig app has come out and it's a sporty one! Peppa Pig's Sports Day allows Peppa fans to join the sporting fun by competing in their very own Sports Day event this summer.
Now available to download for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch from the iTunes App Store, this fun sporting app offers Peppa Pig fans a variety of action-packed and fun-filled activities - guaranteeing hours of interactive family fun.
With single and multiplayer game play options; young players can participate in SIX different sporting and creative games, which include an Obstacle Race, Long Jump, Tug of War and Making Rosettes.
The app also features an additional bonus sticker book where players collect virtual stickers of their favourite characters throughout each game and can arrange them in a Gymnasium, Football Pitch or Basketball Court scene. Featuring original characters, music and sound effects from the smash hit TV show – Peppa Pig’s Sports Day is a must have addition for any Peppa Pig fan’s app collection!
What did Isla think? She's played it a lot since we got it but unsurprisingly she's more into the making ice-cream game (she'd obviously rather that it was real ice-cream!) and making rosettes! She loves it - it's like the Peppa's Party app - she likes making the birthday cake most over playing the party games. She also likes the bonus sticker book so she can make her own Peppa Pig scenes. I think these apps are fairly priced - this one is £2.99 and I can guarantee that it will keep Isla quiet while I'm cooking dinner or in the car for instance. The only thing I would say is that it's making me really wish we had an iPad as the games would be so much better played on one of those for the bigger screen that you could play it on. It doesn't spoil Isla's enjoyment though as she doesn't know what an iPad is - it's only her mummy that knows and would really love one! She's only played it on her own so far so we've yet to play it as more of a competition, which might make it more fun for her. All in all this game gets the thumbs up.

The Peppa Pig’s Sports Day app is now available for £2.99 from the App Store or at 
We were sent a code in order to download this app free of charge, but this review was written honestly. 


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Counting our Pennies

In the last couple of weeks I've realised we need to try not to spend as much money. I don't mean that I'm out shopping all the time but there a couple of cost saving exercises I've been meaning to put in place since I went back to work in April and I've decided enough is enough. The two things I mean to tackle this week are my train fares and stopping buying lunches.

Train fares: since I went back to work I've been buying daily travel cards. This is very stupid. A daily card costs £15.80. A weekly card costs £53.40. I travel to London 4 days a week so you can see I'm over spending by £9.80 a week if i buy daily ticket. What are my reasons for doing this? Well there aren't any good ones. Simply I lost my photocard that I'd had for 15 years and I haven't gone and got a new one! Excuses like I keep forgetting or I don't want to be late back to the kids for sorting it out. Pure idiocy so I plan to get the photocard tomorrow and then buy the more economical travel card. It might turn out a monthly or annual season ticket will be better but if I do that I need to think things through in terms of taking holiday and therefore not using it or the other thing with season tickets is it may not be good economy if the kids get ill and I'm not using it. Getting to work used to be so simple pre-kids there were never these ifs and buts. I got a annual season ticket and that was that. Don't even get me started on the cost of train travel. How rail companies can justify price hikes I have no idea, I don't see vast improvements in the service and we're not all getting pay rises (certainly no pay rise for me this year).

Lunches: another frivolous use of money. Lunch from a sandwich shop can cost £5 a day. £3/£3.50 for a sarnie, £1.50 for a drink. £5 gone in the blink of an eye. It's Pret a Manger's fault for making sandwiches that are TOO NICE and there are 5 of their shops within 2 minutes of my office! London is one big sandwich shop these days, thing is it's really hard not to buy lunch everyday as everyone else does it, I'll be surrounded by everyone with their delicious Indian Summer wrap or my favourite Falafel sandwich and I'll be drooling. It has to stop though. And actually it was meant to stop today, but I left the frigging homemade sandwich at home on the table. Grrr! I blame Noah for making me wake up too early and not be alert enough to remember the sandwich! Anyway, enough of blaming my defenceless 1 year old. Its not his fault I'm spending £20 a week on lunch (£80 a month, £900 a year - gasp that is too shocking to ignore) and its going to stop this week. Thank goodness I've knocked the morning coffee habit on the head as well, or I'd be adding another £10 a week to my work day refreshment bills!

So these are my two most pressing cost saving exercises and I'll give a little update on how they go next week, if I've done what I promise then we'll start to be quids in!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Hello Canvas - Review

Our living room has had a welcome addition to the walls this week. We received the offer of putting any photo on to canvas from a company called HelloCanvas. I’d wanted to do this for sometime so I said yes and didn’t take long to decide that I would use one from our family photo shoot when Noah was 6 months old. It’s so easy these days to just leave our photos on our laptops and do nothing with them, they sit in a digital prison almost, so it felt nice to set this one free!
The canvas is 20 x 28 inches and would cost £39, the delivery is free, and it comes super quick, within 3 working days if you order before 4pm. I love our canvas and will definitely look into getting more, maybe some smaller ones to accompany it. The quality is 100% and it's already received compliments. The kids are also rather taken at being up on the wall!
If you want to check out HelloCanvas, go to
They are also on twitter @hellocanvas
We were sent this canvas for free in exchange for this post, but I can 100% vouch for the quality of this product and would recommend HelloCanvas if you're considering getting one of your photo memories transformed on to canvas.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

We ♥ Lollibop (Review)

We LOVE Lollibop. This was Isla the day before Lollibop getting exicted about going.....

It definitely lived up to hers and my expectations. I was sure that it was going to be a better day than last year when we went with Noah who was only 3 weeks old and it poured with rain the whole 3 hours we were there. I think we were a little ambitious that day and I decided this time round that we would leave the OH and Noah at home and go with Isla and my best friend and her son Samuel. I felt a bit guilty but I know that Noah will have a top time next year. With both the kids being 3, they were old enough to enjoy the shows and also meant we didn't have to lug all the baby bits if we'd brought the littlies with us.

We were really relaxed about what we saw and what we tried to do there. I think going with the flow of the day is the best policy really as you will never be disappointed. We didn't queue for anything, we bypassed anything that had one as there were so many other things to do that didn't require waiting. The only thing we didn't do that I know Isla loves is get her face painted, because we didn't want to wait but there were lots of face painters and to be fair the queue was never really that long.

First up, we saw Waybuloo in the Lollipalladium. Lau Lau and Yo Jo Jo were busy on the stage showing the Cheebies some top Yoga moves. It was really packed full of fans of these big eyed Piplings! We also were pleased to see that Samuel seemed to be no longer scared of big characters as he knows it's only a person in there - all the prepping the previous week by his mum paid off!

After Waybuloo we came across a big tent where the kids could make things. Isla and I sat down at a table being run by The Little Angel Theatre Company and she made an owl puppet from a brown paper bag. It required her to use glue. This is good in her book. The more glue the better. It was hard to actually get her to leave the table and stop applying glue and more decoration to her owl. Finally I got her to STEP AWAY FROM THE GLUE....this is her creation

At that point the rain started! It had got so humid that it had to happen but it was only for 15 minutes or so and it meant that we ducked into a couple of tents that we probably wouldn't have done otherwise, Samuel had great fun doing 3 circuits of a track on a balance bike and then we were in time to see Dee-Li and Nok Tok from Waybuloo and listen to a story in the Lollibook tent. It was lovely. All the kids rushed to see them at the front and then settled down on the rugs to hear the story.

My friend's eye got caught by the tent selling juggling, plate spinning and diablo equipment and in the past she was a dab hand at 'poi' - even doing it with fire sometimes - I caught her on film, she thinks she was a bit rusty but I could never master it and I think she looks pretty cool! What do you think?

Next we caught a bit of Stavros Flatly on the main stage, they were getting a party atmosphere going for sure! From there we went to the 3ft and under area and the kids had a bit of a run around on the soft play. Again this was great to get them (and us) out of the sun.

We headed back to the Lollipalladium next and watched The Gruffalo, both kids were captivated by it and were joining in with the shouting out in the audience. The actors in it were brilliant and I thought the way it has been adapted with songs is great. Isla and I are going to see the show in September in Guildford so I can't wait to see it again in the comfort of a theatre (i.e. without Isla sitting on my legs making them go dead!).

We had top fun at The Village Green, a brilliant area with a steady flow of great street entertainers. There were bean bags and deck chairs and some much needed shade. This was towards the end of our day and we needed a sit down. We saw Mr Armitage and Mr Shanks, a great act centred around all things toilet humour. Isla particularly liked when they made a member of the audience wear a potty on his head, she could not stop giggling. One of the guys also blew up a rubber glove over his head - a trick I've not seen since my Uni days and the inflatable of choice then was a condom....

Fun with a Marigold glove and spot the guy with the potty on his head...
Our final Lollibop moments were watching Mister Maker. The kids love this bloke and as far as I could tell from over hearing a couple of mums, so do the ladies, hahahaha! After that all we had to do was buy a promised helium balloon for each of them and head off tired and happy homewards.

Thanks Lollibop, we had a super time, hope to see you next year!

We were given a free family ticket to attend Lollibop, but this has in no way influenced my review - we did indeed have an excellent time.

Plum Baby Cookery School - Stage 3

Check out this Plum Baby Cookery School Video to see Beverly Glock making the recipe for the fabulous Sweet Cape Curry Recipe! It really is delicious and easy to make.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

London 2012 - Do You Feel Inspired?

I've really felt the lack of Olympics on the TV. It's awful actually – the return of Eastenders and a load of other dreary shite. I’m sorry but it is. It’s meant to be entertainment. Anyway I digress. Before the Olympics started, right back when the tickets were released I was very cynical about the whole thing, all the things that were publicised about being irritating about it I did indeed find irritating, you could only purchase tickets with a Visa credit card, you had to put yourself down for untold number of events or you didn’t have a chance of getting a ticket, London would be unbearable with all the visitors, the cost escalating etc etc. As it happened I registered and then just couldn’t be bothered to buy any. Boy do I regret that decision now!

I can pinpoint exactly when my interest in the Olympics started and it was literally the day before the opening ceremony. I’d seen almost everyone I knew on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram capturing photos of the Olympic Torch. Up until that day I could not see the point. Why bother turning up to see a flame?? What’s the excitement in that? But then on a Friday afternoon I found myself tracking the torch online – watching a little dot travel around a map of London and I realised that I WANTED TO SEE IT! It was coming nearby to work and I set off with my laptop on my back, handbag and a bag of groceries. I got to Shaftsbury Avenue and……IT HAD JUST PASSED!!! I was a bit disappointed and made to walk to the train station and then I changed my mind and decided that I REALLY WANTED TO SEE IT. So I made like a hare and chased down Charing Cross Road and made it to Trafalgar Square where I saw……THE TIP OF THE FLAME. Not the torch, just the very hint of fire amongst a huge crowd, and this was with me standing on tip toes. Trafalgar Square was as you can imagine, very crowded. I tried to convince myself that this was enough, but realised it still wasn’t so I continued to be a torch stalker and ran down Whitehall where I eventually caught up with it just outside Downing Street. I was so happy and I couldn’t really explain why. My legs were like jelly (probably from carrying 2 stones in luggage) and my grin was from ear to ear, I looked like a proper lunatic. And from the moment that I captured my torch photo I really couldn’t wait for the games to start.

I paid homage to Box Hill and took photos of the road!
The opening ceremony was AMAZEBALLS and the first sport I watched was the men’s cycling road race where I was so disappointed for Mark Cavendish (I've got a bit of a crush on him...) and our team, I loved watching it though as it went all through the Surrey Hills which is close to where my parents live The pace picked up a few days on and we started winning medals and every evening there were just new and amazing things to watch. People who train and work so hard to accomplish their dreams were on our screens. Day after day I saw and heard of people going to the Olympic venues and having such fun and I really wished that I’d realised what a big deal this was for London way back when everyone else did! The venues looked so brilliantly crafted on our screens, the British weather held out most of the time and the vibe of our country was unbeatable, it felt like everyone was behind Team GB.

I have to say that when the kids were around it was pretty hard for myself or the OH to watch very much of it as Isla kept saying ‘it’s boring’ – she’s only 3 and she’s already saying that! However she did like the ‘nastics’ and we have that saved on the Sky planner so she can watch Beth Tweddle and do her own version of it – very funny as well I might add. I love that she found one sport that she connected with even at her very young age and I think that goes to show how far a reach the London 2012 games had and how perhaps it will inspire younger generations. The over-riding message I gathered from these Games is that hard work and dedication will help you to realise your dreams.
Now the Games are over but we now have the Para Olympics to look forward to and I’m very excited to be able to say that I’m going. I can’t wait to soak up some of the Olympic atmosphere and check out the venues that I saw on TV for 2 weeks. My hope is that this feel good feeling we have in Great Britain right now is for the longhaul and we don’t slip back to the doom and gloom, only we have the power to harness the positivity and make it last.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Friday, 17 August 2012

Mobiles for Meals

I spotted this campaign on Netmums and asked around and found 4 unwanted mobile phones - I can imagine that this could be the case for a lot of people and they either just languish in draws or get thrown out. There are obviously ways of making money for yourself from mobile phones but if you're inclined to make the odd charity donation here and there but you're a bit short of money you might want to consider donating in a way whereby you don't have to use your own hard cash - you simply just send off your old (they can even be broken!) mobile phones and by doing so you will be helping to feed hungry UK children. Apparently there are approx 15 million unused mobile phones in the UK, each one worth between £5 - £100. Orange and T-mobile are kindly putting all unused mobile phones through their recycling programme to raise money for hungry children.

Here are my phones and I will be sending them off shortly, using a freepost label found on Netmums. Or if it's easier for you Orange and T-mobile shops are taking them and will give you a receipt.

Details about Mobile for Meals can be found here and if you'd like to watch this video by Camila Batmanghelidjh founder and director of Kids Company, she explains what your old mobile phone will do for underpriviledged children.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Poppy Cat DVD Giveaway!

‘Birthday Treasure and Other Adventures’
available from 3rd September 2012
To celebrate the launch of Poppy Cat on DVD for the first time ever in ‘Birthday Treasure and Other Adventures’from 3rd September, Lionsgate has teamed up with I-Heart-Motherhood to offer one lucky winner the chance to win a copy hot off the press.
Voiced by Gavin & Stacey star, Joanna Page, Poppy Cat is a great new British children’s animation based on the best-selling books by author Lara Jones, which have sold in excess of 2.5 million copies.
‘Poppy Cat: Birthday Treasure and Other Adventures’features 11 episodes (over two hours) of non-stop family fun.
To win a copy of this fantastic DVD, all you have to do is give your answer in the comment box below and leave a way of contacting you.

Who voices Poppy Cat in the popular TV series?
a) Joanna Page
b) Joanna Lumley
c) Joanna Rowsell
For an Extra entry you can tweet the following "I've entered to win the @Iheartmuthahood competition to win a Poppy Cat DVD" Please add an extra comment below to say you have done this with your twitter ID.

<<Separate comments must be made for both entries>>

This bumper Poppy Cat DVD offers something extra special for all of the family. With any DVD purchase, families will receive a buy one get one free voucher into Chessington World of Adventures. If, like Poppy Cat, you enjoy the thrill of making everyday adventures extraordinary, then look no further than this exciting competition.
‘Poppy Cat: Birthday Treasure and Other Adventures’ will be available at all good retailers with a RRP of £12.99.
For more information on the Nick Jr and CITV pre-school series and DVD launch, please visit, or become a fan of Poppy Cat’s on Facebook ( or Twitter (

This competition is UK only. The competition will close at midnight on Sunday 2nd September. The prize will be sent out by the PR to the winner.

Lollibop - This Weekend!


LolliBop, in partnership with John Lewis, is returning to Regent's Park this summer, with a line up designed to delight mini festival goers. Billed as The Big Bash for Little People, the event takes place between August 17 and 19 and is aimed at children up to the age of 10.

Smash hit video game Skylanders will be on site for the full three days giving kids the chance to better get to know their favourite Skylanders and to visit the magical Skylands – in real life!

The fun-filled Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure Arena Tour will provide visitors with a wealth of interactive and entertaining activities including a chance to be amongst the first in the world to have a look and play of Skylanders Giants.  There will be two Giants statues showcasing brand new characters – a huge photo opportunity! Families will also experience the Portal of PowerTM Stage and Play Podium where visitors will be encouraged to climb the podium throughout the day for epic Skylanders play-offs and the chance to win a special prize.

Also added to the LolliBop line up - direct from their massively successful live show at the Empire in Leicester Square - the Go! Go! Go! Show will be bringing their dynamic blend of catchy pop tunes, easy to learn dances, magic and comedy to the live arena at Lollibop. Expect lots of fun and loads and loads of laughs!

The ‘LolliBop Live’ stage will play host to some of the hottest names in kids entertainment with musical performances from the likes of the ZingZilla's, Jassa Aluwahlia (Art Attack) and The Mr Men & Little Miss Party Roadshow.  TV favourites Dick and Dom will also take to the stage to entertain crowds with their unique blend of music and games. 

Celebrating its first year in the West End, Shrek the Musical will also make a special appearance with a performance from the award-winning show (Sunday 19 only).

In the Lollipaladium, see the story of The Gruffalo brought to life on the stage with plenty of audience interaction. CBeebies favourite, Mister Maker will be on hand to demonstrate his unique arts and crafts skills.  Mister Maker is a real life character who gets inspiration to make art from everything around him. Packed full of stimulating ideas, set in his own fantasy art world, prepare to expect the unexpected!
The ‘LolliBop Kitchen‘ is an exciting new area, where LolliBoppers will have the chance to learn new skills from live demonstrations and interactive workshops, featuring popular blogger My Daddy Cooks.

Halfords will create a bespoke Bike City at LolliBop, which will include a Wacky Races obstacle course for under 5’s, where children can be the first to try out a brand new range of Balance and Apollo kids bikes. For older kids, highlights include a BMX stunt display and demo area.

Other new areas include: ‘LolliBop Animal Curiosities’, which features animals including a polar bear, a dinosaur and gorillas!  ‘The Disco Shed‘ which will have mini boppers (and parents!) dancing the day away and ‘The Village Green‘ - the perfect spot to chill out and enjoy some street theatre.

Back by popular demand, the Science Museum are preparing for a triumphant return to Regent’s Park with an expanded area and dedicated Science Zone.

For pre-schoolers, the ‘3ft & Under’ area is also back.  Confirmed activities include a mini disco, tiny play, little arts, baby ballet, yoga, teddy bears picnic and sing and sign.  There will be two boob and botty boudoirs this year, and covered buggy parks and lollishade areas are also being created.

And if that wasn’t enough, there are plenty of arts and craft activities, face painting and workshops, including circus skills.

All of the activities, stages and events are included in the entry ticket price, which starts at £22 per person.  For more information, including a full programme of events, visit

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

My Summer Read - The Two Week Wait by Sarah Rayner

When I picked this book out I didn't actually play proper attention to what I was buying, this is often the case now I've got kids, it's hard to spend the amount of time I used to spend researching a book and checking out reviews. Luckily I managed to pick something very readable and I tore through it in two days, unable to put it down.

The Two Week Wait is based around two women's journies to achieve parenthood. Both women have two very different reasons for wanting to go through IVF, Cath is a Cancer surviver with no ovaries and Lou is a lesbian who after having a health scare realises she wants children and her time is running out. These two women's lives are entwined in a way that they will never know when they both go to the same fertility clinic and opt to 'egg share'.

I liked the characters in this book, they were down to earth and I could empathise with their situations - more so with the situation of Cath as I've known people going through IVF and it's a long and hard road and the portrayal of hers and Rich's journey is so real. As a character Cath has already been through so much with her Cancer that you're constantly willing everything to go right for her. When she spirals out of control, over thinking the IVF and jumping ahead of herself assuming that a baby is a dead cert, you want to stop her and make her calm down and be realistic. But as is proven by the forums that Cath and Lou both go on, most women do go manic during 'the two week wait' - which is the length of time women should wait before doing a pregnancy test after artificial insemination. Apart from the main female characters I also like the portraits of their families, particularly Lou's mother, a very staid and seemingly old fashioned woman who on finding out her lesbian daughter is pregnant surprises everyone by saying she is pleased and gives a really honest speech about how she has felt since her daughter revealed details of her sexuality. There is a real fondness there as there also is between Cath and her mother Judy.

The one character I didn't like was Cath's sister in law who expresses some opinions about IVF that I know a lot of people do hold but that I find really unfathomable. She is against it for how 'unnatural' it is and asks Cath if she's ever thought about practising 'acceptance'? Very easy for a woman to say who had two children of her own naturally!

The plot flits between both protaganists but not in such a way that you can't keep up with the story, we see how their lives are similar with the experiences they are going through and unbeknown to them they also reply to one another on a fertility forum. Lou's thoughts are never far from thinking about how recipient is getting on. This is partly attributable to her being quite selfless but also because she is thinking about her donated egg, underlining that she doesn't lose the connection with the fertilized egg - it is still a part of her.

What I didn't realise is that this is the second book from Sarah Rayner and I had no idea until I'd finished it that the characters are from her first book. Just goes to show that I didn't need to read that one to enjoy this one and I will look out her debut novel to find out the story that preceeded this one. I'd recommend this as it is a page turner and I did get sucked in to find out what Cath and Lou's journey held for them. I won't spoil it here, I'll leave it to you to read the book.

I've written this review as part of the special summer edition of the Tots100 Book Club, in association with Tesco Books. If you like the sound of The Two Week Wait it can be purchased at Tesco Books 

Thanks for inviting me to join in! Click the badge below to see other entries to the Summer Book challenge.

Give Blood!

I first gave blood a few years ago before I had the children. I had no real reason for doing so, I just wanted to do it as I was healthy and knew that blood is a much needed commodity and not enough people do it. I discovered when I gave blood that my blood group is B negative, one of the rarer ones – approximately only 2% of the population have that type, so even more of a reason to do it. Since then I’ve been pregnant and had 2 children so there hasn’t really been time to fit it in but recently I decided now was the time to give blood again. I’m motivated this time because my Dad recently had a hospital stay which warranted him needing 3 bags of blood. It jogged my memory to book an appointment.
So I went along today and here’s what happened, in case you need some reassurance about how simple and easy it is!
I made an appointment online and I'm glad I did as they were very busy there today and had stopped accepting drop ins as they wouldn't have had enough time to get through everyone. Don't let this give you the impression that there are enough people giving blood though! On arrival I confirmed my details and was asked to drink 500ml of water. I did as I was told and waited till I was called. Once my name was called I saw a nurse to have a finger prick test and again confirm my details and the answers to questions about my health. I then waited another 5 minutes before being called to one of the beds to get set for the blood donation. The nurse gave my arm a good clean and then inserted the needle and I will admit that there was a slight sting but once it was in it couldn't be felt. I read my book for about 8 minutes and that was it, bag filled with blood, I'm given a nice big plaster and sent off to have a drink and a few crisps and biscuits. It was a nice atmosphere, there was music playing and the nurses were all really friendly. I will definitely be doing it again and here is a picture of me with a smile on my face to prove that it really is a painless procedure:
It really is such a simple procedure and I’d really encourage you to think about going to do it, it doesn’t take up much time (I was in and out in an hour) and think of the lives you’ll help to save. I know the thought makes some people feel squeamish and blood is one of those funny things that no one really likes to see but if you can get past that feeling then do it! I remember being nervous the first time but now having had two children I feel used to being prodded and poked. And remember I could still smile while I had it done.
To find out how to give blood go to

Monday, 13 August 2012

Duvet Day with Dunelm Mill

What do you do when your 3 year old resists staying over at Nanny and Grandpa's? Don't get me wrong she loves Nanny and Grandpa but it's been a year since Isla did a sleepover at Nanny and Grandpa's (since Noah was born) and she's not wanted to stray too far from us in that time. When my mum suggested that the kids stayed at her house for the night I knew we'd have a job persuading her. The fact that Noah was staying too helped but the big reason she was happy to stay was this new bed set from Dunelm Mill.......

I'm not joking. She loves it. Thank you to Dunelm Mill for sending us this. It helped immensely - more sleepovers at Nanny and Grandpa's are in the pipeline!

The Lorax - Film Review

We're lucky enough to be part of the Tots100 Film club and this month we were sent a copy of the original TV cartoon of Dr Seuss's 'The Lorax'. The updated Hollywood version is currently on the big screen so I was really interested to see how this would fare being as it was first broadcast in the early 70's. It's been digitally remastered so it looks glorious and I love the twangy 70's music that plays during the 25 minutes it runs.

The Lorax is a creature who speaks for the trees and he rushes to their defence when the Once-ler starts chopping them down for his own gain to make Thneeds. The Once-ler goes across the land chopping down trees and changing the landscape from a beautiful place with colourful trees and happy creatures to an industrial place where the skies are filled with black smoke and rivers are polluted. He is the epitome of capitalism and a sad world emerges where peoples materialistic tendancies cause suffering to nature. The Lorax appeals to the Once-ler's conscience and you'll have to see the film to find out if he succeeds.

Isla watched it 3 times in one day she liked it that much. I'm certain she didn't understand the message behind the film but she did connect with The Lorax, feared for him when he was on the conveyor belt with the threat of being made into a Thneed. She also liked the music and I could tell she wasn't happy with the way the world was going with The Once-ler in charge. I loved it. I loved the message. I loved the retro-ness of it. And I think I would hesitate now to go and see the new version of this story as I'm sure it wouldn't feel so imaginative and weird. We could all do with a reminder sometimes that the world isn't being looked after and watching this film would be a good way of starting children off on a path of realisation that they must look after this planet.

The Lorax DVD was sent to us for free in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Excellent Books for 3 year olds!

Well as you know it was Isla's birthday recently and I took this opportunity to stock her up with a few new books, so I thought I'd give a couple a mention here as we're really enjoying reading something new at bedtime. Incidentally Noah is already showing a love of books too and is enjoying some of Isla's old ones!

The first book I bought for Isla was Good Little Wolf by Nadia Shireen. I love reading this one as the story has a fab twist at the end and also I love the illustrations. Rolf is a Good Little Wolf and he doesn't fit to the stereotype of 'big bad wolf'. On meeting a real Big Bad Wolf he tries to conform but he can't and it's a bit of an error.... I never tire of reading this at bedtime and I love that you have to interpret it yourself - there is no doubt what has happened on the last page of the story but it's not spelt out and so Isla is not quite sure where Mrs Boggins and Rolf have gone.

We had a few Oliver Jeffers books already (Stuck and Lost and Found) and so I took the opportunity to also buy How to Catch a Star. I love Lost and Found and I love this one just as much. I think Isla likes this one a bit more as she finds Lost and Found a bit sad. Her favourite bit is when the boy goes to lots of lengths to catch a star and on explaining to a seagull the seagull doesn't want to help at all. I like the way that the boy's matter of a fact approach to catching a star is described - the way his imaginative attempts at capturing it are made to sound so possible.

Another new book was Peppa Meets the Queen. I know that this isn't exactly going to make the children's classics list but Isla is a MASSIVE Peppa Fan so I couldn't very well not buy her a Peppa book and as we missed the special Jubilee episode I thought this would be a great consolation and it is! The story is very simple Miss Rabbit wins an award for being the most hardworking person in the country which of course she is. This means that Miss Rabbit and all the children get to go and collect the award from The Queen. It's a really fun book who would have thought that the Queen likes jumping up and down in muddy puddles?

The final new book was a gift from one of Isla's friends, The Tickle Book is her absolute favourite at the moment, she gets two books at bedtime these days and this one has been one of the two for 3 weeks now! It's a pop up book, with lots a flaps to lift and things to pull to reveal the Ticklemonster. The illustrations are by Axel Scheffler of The Gruffalo fame - so it is fun to look at - there are loads of things going on in the scenes on each page, so we talk about what's going on. The only thing I would say is that it does need supervision when reading as the moving parts in it can get ripped with boisterous use!

We really do recommend all these books. What books go down well in your household at bedtime? I'd love to know, it's always good to find out some corking good reads!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom - Live Stage Show




NEW UK TOUR FOR 2012/2013



From the makers of Peppa Pig and the producers of the two hugely successful Peppa Pig theatre tours comes the first ever stage version of the BAFTA award-winning TV animation, Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom. This brand new UK tour opens at The Orchard Theatre, Dartford on 26 October at the start of an extensive UK tour, booking through till summer 2013.

The Little Kingdom – where everyone is very, very small – is home to Princess Holly and her best friend Ben Elf. Holly is a young fairy princess who is still learning how to do magic properly and sometimes her spells don’t work out quite right. Ben is an Elf. Elves don’t do magic but they are very good at making things. Ben doesn’t have wings like Holly but he flies on the back of Gaston the Ladybird.

In this exciting new musical adventure, Ben and Holly have fun and games helping Gaston clean up his messy cave; they go on a trip to The Big World with tooth-fairy Nanny Plum; and still have time to plan a surprise for King Elf’s birthday party, complete with an unplanned jelly flood.

Packed full of games, songs and laughter, this is an enchanting and magical visit to the Little Kingdom, live on stage for the very first time. This beautiful story of elves, princesses and childhood innocence will delight all the family.

Information about the show can be found at

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Plum Baby Cookery School - Stage 2

Here's the next Plum Baby Cookery School Weaning Video - Stage 2! Enjoy!

Friday, 3 August 2012

Todo In Tuscany - The Dog At The Villa - Book Review

You might think that this is the story of Louise Badger and Lawrence Kershaw and their move to Italy. It might seem that it was their decision to look for a house in Tuscany – into which they could move themselves and begin a new chapter in their lives – which took them to Poggiolino, in the foothills of Lucca. But in truth, it is the story of a small, chestnut-haired dog, known as Todo.

Todo was the reason that they put in an offer for the run-down, tired house. Todo was the little character known across the neighbourhood who introduced Louise and Lawrence to their new world - albeit a little sooner than they were expecting, as their plans to move were hardly formulated. Todo it was who proved that such things as loyalty, courage and determination are not reserved simply for humans.

Poggiolino was built by Carol MacAndrew, the first president of the Music Society of Lucca, and when she died, her dog simply stayed put. The house stood empty for two years, with Todo stubbornly refusing all efforts to re-home him.

When Louise and Lawrence viewed the house, his welcome made it seem to them as though they had arrived home. He lived alone outside the house and his coat was matted and worn, but he seemed to radiate friendliness. So it was that Todo – and Signora Teresa, the equally loyal housekeeper - proved hugely instrumental in the pair's offer for the house being accepted. Both continued after the purchase to help Louise and Lawrence to settle in.

There followed the frustrations of renovating - of re-connecting the telephone and bringing in the Internet, of packing up and leaving London, whilst continuing to run their music agency, and of regular travel back and forth from England.

It wasn't easy; the pressures were huge, but the pleasures grew to be enormous. The locals, from electricians to policemen, and all who knew the previous owner, proved helpful and welcoming - but time and again doors were opened to them because of the small dog, who seemed to smile at everyone.
This is the story of love and devotion and of a precious friendship with an extraordinary dog. Part memoir, part travelogue, part reassurance that moving to another country is possible, this charming and heart-warming story of rescue and good fortune will raise both smiles and tears.

My thoughts:
I don't read a lot of non-fiction but when I do it is usually of the 'we moved abroad and survived' variety! I love books like Driving Over Lemons and when I was younger all the Gerald Durrell books recounting his childhood in Greece and his slightly quirky family. So this book ticked that box for me. I like to hear about people following their dreams and making it work no matter what life throws at them. I've been to Italy, and Tuscany in particular and the book really does make you want to visit. The idea of taking that step back from the fast pace of London really does appeal.

What I love about this book is the detail of friendships that occur between Louise and Lawrence and Carol MacAndrew's old friends. They all take the authors under their wing and this is because they won Todo's heart, starting right from the beginning when Teresa the housekeeper more or less demands that they should have the house as Todo seemed to see something in them. You see how small communities work in this book, they all pull together, they remember each other and help one another. But there are other times where that's not so much the case, when the hunting season starts for instance and no one seems to want to challenge the hunters that disturb the peace for almost 6 months of the year - there is just an Italian shrug of the shoulders, an acceptance of things which causes Louise and Lawrence much frustration!

I loved the way that the new owners of Poggiolino not only inherited a loyal friend in Todo they also got to know the previous owner through their neighbours, through old photos and even through a burglar that Carol previously knew! It's not often that people move house and get to know the deceased previous occupant so well but it seems that Carol was the life and soul of wherever she went and she also saw something special in Todo.

One thing you can sense right from the beginning of the book is that Todo becomes very special to Louise and Lawrence and they want to do their very best by him at all times. They are very aware from the beginning of their occupation at Poggiolino that Todo is an old age pensioner in dog terms and that they will not get to spend as much time with him as they would have dearly loved. I'm not really spoiling things by saying that of course Todo does die and I should warn you to not be reading this book out in public as it WILL make you cry - I cried on my commute in to London! I knew it was coming but I was so taken in by the lengths Todo's owners went to give him a good quality of life - they don't have children and Todo was certainly their 'baby'.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and would definitely recommend reading it. Todo In Tuscany can be purchased from all good book shops and Amazon. If you want to find out more then check out the Todo in Tuscany website, facebook page and they're also on Twitter 
Louise Badger and Lawrence Kershaw were both born in the UK, but Louise spent her
childhood in Australia while Lawrence grew up in Liverpool. They met through a shared love
of music and were married in 1987. They have run a music agency for over a decade and
divide their time between London and a small village near Lucca.

I was sent this book to review free of charge - all opinions are my own.