Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Mums never sit down!

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

Great news.

Most mothers with young children barely get to sit down. We eat on the hoof, run between washing machine and school/nursery pick-ups, and spend more hours than we care to count picking up bits of stuff from the floor. Tiring, but not exactly like hitting the gym three times a week?

Mums, keep moving. Keeping upright means a healthier future

Yay, not so. New research reveals that if  you sit down for the majority of the day,your health is suffering – even if you exercise the government-recommended three times a week. It seems that bodies are just not designed to be sedentary, and sitting down for prolonged periods strains muscles, slows metabolism, and even increases the risk of heart disease.

As mothers with young children barely get to sit down for a few minutes, surely this puts us in the premier league when it comes to health?

I’m not training for a marathon yet, but go busy mums!

RBC Race for the Kids

Monday, April 7th, 2014

You, your trainers, the family in Battersea Park 8 June 2014!

The RBC Race for the Kids is Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital Charity’s very own 5k family fun run.

In 2013 4000 people took part and raised an incredible £672,000. Do you fancy helping make 2014 even bigger and better?

Race for the Kids 2012 start line

Event day information

Date: 8 June 2014

Time: 9.30am- 1pm

Venue: Battersea Park



Jacqueline Wilson Museum of Childhood

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

Author Jacqueline Wilson with illustrator Nick Sharrat © Barry Pells for Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children's Stories

Today (5 April 2014) sees the opening of Daydreams and Diaries, the Story of Jacqueline Wilson, at the V&A Museum of Childhood. It charts Dame Jacqueline Wilson’s continued and prolific contribution to children’s literature, offering fans an extraordinary insight into her life and work. The exhibition is on tour from Seven Stories, National Centre for Children’s Books, Newcastle.

Former Children’s Laureate (2005-2007) and multi-award winning author, Jacqueline Wilson has written nearly 100 books which have been translated into 34 different languages, and has sold over 35 million copies in the UK alone. The exhibition will celebrate these outstanding achievements and look at her work in a wider context, reflecting on the diverse lives of her characters and the impact of their stories on young readers. Particular attention will be paid to some of Jacqueline’s own favourite stories including Tracy Beaker, The Illustrated Mum, The Suitcase Kid, Hetty Feather and Cliffhanger.

Visitors can delve into Jacqueline’s life and work and find their own inspiration in the settings where she came up with some of the ideas for her most famous books. The exhibition begins with a replica of the childhood bedroom where she developed her love for reading and finishes with a mock-up of the study in which she now works. Also on display will be short stories and diaries written by Jacqueline as a young girl, showing the origins of her talent for writing, while annotated drafts of favourites such as Tracy Beaker and the later work Hetty Feather will give fans further insight in to these well loved stories.

Inseparable from Jacqueline’s books, Nick Sharratt’s illustrations provide the unique visual narrative that has become instantly recognisable to fans all over the world. The exhibition will explore this important creative partnership and friendship which began with Tracy Beaker in 1990. Visitors will be able to see a number of Nick’s draft illustrations alongside drawings he sketched as a child.

Enjoy! And if you can’t make the exhibition explore Jacqueline Wilson’s website instead. It’s a great source of fun with a Game Zone, downloadable colouring sheets and a virtual pet sanctuary.

Hitting a high note: April fool

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Don’t we all love a good April Fool gag? This one manages the trick of being clever and beautiful.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

Hope you got a lie-in, breakfast in bed, a delicious lunch – either out or cooked for you – and flowers, chocolates and kisses galore!

Here’s my card, with nice little tea bag. Great idea, child #2′s teacher – thank you!

Storystock @ Saatchi from 7 April

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

This Easter holiday, travelling storytelling circus Storystock lands at the Saatchi Gallery, King’s Road, London. On offer is a programme of brilliant workshops and the psychedelic ANTI-GUIDE for children (4-13yrs) to get into art & stories.

STORYSTOCK subscribers can enter the code ANGELS to get 10% off all tickets.

Workshops include Animation Studios, The Chocolate Tree with Rococo chocolate, MC STORY Rap & poetry, Clay Tales, drama and puppet making. Junior (4-7) tickets are £15 and Senior (7-13) are £18. Sessions begin with a tour or storytelling and include the ANTI-GUIDE – our reinvention of the audio guide to engage with the exhibition as you never have before.

Parents can sign in their children to the sessions or are welcome to join in if they prefer craft to a little shop or a coffee on the King’s Road…

We also  have Easter EGGISTENITIALISM drop-in workshops and weekend passes for only £10 (including the ANTI-GUIDE).

Looking forward to seeing you there – the Saatchi Gallery is free entry and open 7 days a week (check the website for STORYSTOCK timetable).

Enjoy and stay tuned for more exciting news about where you can find us later this year… including the wonderful Wilderness festival!

Not every girl is a princess

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Good on Waterstones. The book seller is supporting a campaign to ‘Let Books Be Books‘ and doesn’t group its children’s books by gender. I’m only amazed it’s taken this long.

Children's Laureate, Malorie Blackman, supports the Let Books Be Books campaign

Think of classic storybooks and they’re a great read, whether you’re a boy or a girl. Watership Down, Swallows & Amazons, Winnie the Witch, The Gruffalo (and anything else by Julia Donaldson), and, of course, Harry Potter; there’s no gender bar here. While one of my childhood favourites, the Mallory Towers series is arguably just for girlies, plenty of the other books I read most certainly weren’t – I’m thinking The Famous Five, the Narnia series (which I still like reading today), and all those amusing Mr Men (some of those Little Miss books became a bit iffy, I’ll admit). Had Michael Morpurgo been writing for children back then, I’d have loved all his work – and having seen my sons’ reactions to War Horse, both on the page and on the stage, can vouch that it’s just as exciting and emotionally moving for boys as well as girls.

It annoys me when my four sons are given books on snot and fighting. My youngest’s favourite colours are pink and yellow, and he adores diggers and cute baby animals. If he wants to pick up a copy of Angelina Ballerina in the library, I’m not going to stop him.

Cutesy but gender neutral, The Littlest Bear is a lovely tale of friendship and overcoming fears

Our favourite house reads the moment include The Littlest Bear (a cutesy tale about a polar bear’s friendship with a young wolf, in which both protaganists could be male or female, and who cares?), Room on the Broom, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and Michael Morpurgo’s I Believe in Unicorns.

Imagine if any of them had been sitting in the girls’ section in the library or bookshop. We wouldn’t have picked them up because, in a household of boys, we wouldn’t have gone near anything proclaiming it to be ‘girls only’.

Bet T S Elliot didn't write this one just for boys

In angels & urchins’ Children’s Book section, there are loads of fab ideas, none of them remotely fluffy and stereotypical. Take a rework of T S Elliot’s fabulous Macavity. Surely every child will applaud the mysterious cat who ‘wasn’t there’ every time a crime is committed.

Macavity’s a Mystery Cat: he’s called the Hidden Paw
For he’s the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He’s the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad’s despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime–Macavity’s not there!

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no on like Macavity,
He’s broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,
And when you reach the scene of crime–Macavity’s not there!
You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air–
But I tell you once and once again, Macavity’s not there!

Macavity’s a ginger cat, he’s very tall and thin;
You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.
His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly doomed;
His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed.
He sways his head from side to side, with movements like a snake;
And when you think he’s half asleep, he’s always wide awake.

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
For he’s a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity.
You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square–
But when a crime’s discovered, then Macavity’s not there!

He’s outwardly respectable. (They say he cheats at cards.)
And his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard’s.
And when the larder’s looted, or the jewel-case is rifled,
Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke’s been stifled,
Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair–
Ay, there’s the wonder of the thing! Macavity’s not there!

And when the Foreign Office finds a Treaty’s gone astray,
Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way,
There may be a scap of paper in the hall or on the stair–
But it’s useless of investigate–Macavity’s not there!
And when the loss has been disclosed, the Secret Service say:
“It must have been Macavity!”–but he’s a mile away.
You’ll be sure to find him resting, or a-licking of his thumbs,
Or engaged in doing complicated long division sums.

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macacity,
There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
He always has an alibi, or one or two to spare:
And whatever time the deed took place–MACAVITY WASN’T THERE!
And they say that all the Cats whose wicked deeds are widely known
(I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone)
Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time
Just controls their operations: the Napoleon of Crime!

What I Love About Mum

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

Hint, hint…

Mother’s Day is nearly upon us (that’s a lie-in and breakfast in bed for one on Sunday 30th March, please), and I think I’ve found the perfect present.

It might not win the Booker, but could there by anything more fascinating than reading what your children actually like about you?

A book that’s all about me. Written by my children – with possibly a little help from their father.

What I Love About Mum is a keepsake journal in which to record all the things that make a mum ‘mum’ – and loveable, kind, smiling and funny (hint, hint again). Simply fill the blanks – there are plenty of prompts to help record sayings, recipes and tips – and create a beautiful heirloom keepsake.

It’s a snip at £7.95 at The Handpicked Collection, where I also wouldn’t say no to the personalised Tree of Life Necklace, £69.95, either.

Happy Mother's Day!


FREE Family Holidays Guide

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Click to get hold of a free copy

Quo Vadis the Family Holidays Company, has brought out a genuinely useful guide.

And it’s available FREE! Click here.

If you have school age children, you’re pretty much stuck with taking holidays outside school hours. Which can be frustrating because it can mean higher prices, crowded resorts and less choice.

Could the Abama, Tenerife, be the right holiday destination for you?

So it pays to plan. The Family Holidays Guide is full of great tips. For example, I’d never thought that a long-haul flight with seat-back TV entertainment systems might actually be less stressful than a shorter charter flight when the children get bored because there’s nothing to do. Or that if you do whip your children out of school during term-time, you might find that they’re the only children in the kids’ club and therefore won’t want to go.

There’s also lots of information on the best places to go for summer, Easter, Christmas and half term holidays. The guide offers advice on holidays for those that like it hot, for beach babes or for action lovers.

It includes money-saving tips, what to think about at the planning stage and family holiday destination ideas backed up with temperature charts.

Get packing!

Broomwood school in Ethiopia

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014


St George’s School is open.

In Azezo, Gondar, NW Ethiopia, a new school opened its doors for the first time on 3 March 2014. In an area starved of education and crying out for more opportunity, St George’s School is a symbol of what change can be happen with hard work and the generosity of others.

Fifty excited and chattering six year olds raced each other to be first into school when the gates were flung open. It would have been hard to find a more eager bunch of children that day!

St George’s pupils are among the poorest and most vulnerable in the area. Many of them are orphaned or sick; many have already been put to work to provide for themselves and their families. With access to education so limited it is almost impossible for children like our new pupils to achieve even the most basic schooling.

St George’s School provides a completely free education, funded entirely by the Broomwood in Ethiopia project of Northwood African Education Foundation.

St George’s School wouldn’t have been possible without Diana Mardon, the former Head of Broomwood Hall Lower School. Instead of retiring, Diana moved to Ethiopia and has worked tirelessly to bring this project to life.

The amazing Diana Mardon who has worked tirelessly to bring St George's School, Ethiopia, to life

The new pupils of St George's race to get inside the new school

The children are all provided with two sets of hardy uniform, the same as that worn by children at Broomwood Hall in London. They will each receive two healthy and nutritious meals a day – and before becoming pupils would have been lucky to get even one meal a day.

It’s an amazing achievement, and you can support ongoing work with a donation.

CLICK HERE! Donate to Broomwood in Ethiopia