Posts Tagged ‘Treats for teenies’

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!

Win an Animal Planet Morphsuit

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

Win an Animal Planet Morphsuit in celebration of World Book Day!

Any parent of a school age child can’t fail to notice that it’s World Book Day on Thursday 6th March.

This annual celebration of authors, illustrators, books is all about encouraging children to experience the thrill of reading, and we’re all for it.

To celebrate, we’ve teamed up with Morphsuits’ range of official Animal Planet costumes.

Morpshuits’ animal costumes include tigers, zebras, cobras, gorillas, grizzly bears, jaguars, bats and leopards. Plenty of inspiration for characters from lots of wonderful books, including The Tiger That Came to Tea, Jungle Book and

And this year, I didn’t send my child into school a week early, dressed as a giraffe. It happened last year for Book Trust Children’s Book Week, and the children now always insist on taking their uniforms under their arms whenever dressing up is involved…

To enter email with your name, address and costume choice and size by Tuesday 4th March at Midday. Winners will be selected randomly.

The full range is here:

Good luck!  

€300 off Country Kids April holiday

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

A French miracle! It's 7am. And our parents are sleeping.

I’ve wanted to holiday here ever since friends told me about the morning babysitting service.

There’s a creche, kids’ club and big kids club, all offering plenty of age-appropriate activities, from bear hunts to treasure hunts and zip-wire adventures. The food is fab, and the accommodation of the sort that your own house looks like when you’ve spent a week tidying it in readiness for a visit from the mother-in-law or estate agent.

But the genius touch is the Friday morning babysitting. At 7am staff pick up your child or children and whisk them off for a morning of fun, while you have one of those things you might remember from years before – a ‘lie-in’.


This Easter kid’s activities include Egg Hunts, Easter bonnet making and a parade, eggshell mosaic making and games with real eggs for older kids which might get messy!  The Spring Season Package includes luxurious child friendly apartments, unlimited childcare in our fantastic regulated crèche and kids club (from 3 months to 12 years), 2 nights babysitting, heated pool, petting farm and more.  Discounted rates for a family of 4  start from Euros 2,950 per week.  On this offer there is availability arriving 5th and 12th and 26th April.

For information go to   or call Tracey on +33677545600.  To book an April stay at Country Kids and benefit from this special offer people can use the promo code april300 when they book online, by phone or by e-mail.

Lost My Name free colouring book

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

You might have noticed it’s half term. And it’s raining. Again.

If you’re running out of inspiration (and dry clothing) try these free downloadable colour-in illustrations from the team behind the adorable Lost My Name personalised books. Images include a gorgeous Aardvark Who Likes to Eat Ants and Frog (Really, would you kiss one?). It’s fun, it’s free, and if you stay indoors, it’s rainproof!

You can share your artwork afterwards on Lost My Name’s Facebook page.

Matisse to inspire at Tate Modern

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Book now! The Snail by Henri Matisse - part of Tate Modern's Matisse Cut Outs exhibition, from 17 April

It catches the tail end of our half term, and I’m pre-booking now because it promises to be this year’s first sold-out exhibition.

Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs promises to be a real child-pleaser, full of pieces like The Snail, above, that look as though a child could have created it. Full of colour and movement, this is art to relate to.

17 April – 7 September 2014
Adult £18.00 (without donation £16.30)
Concession £16.00 (without donation £14.50)

Help Tate by including the voluntary donation to enable Gift Aid
(Additional booking fee of £1.75 (£2 via telephone) per transaction applies)


Climb the O2 arena!

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

We're booked in to climb the O2 at half term!

Seriously, how cool does this sound for a half term outing (howling gales and blustery snow showers permitting, of course).

Up at the O2 is just that, a climb across a section of the entertainment venue – at its highest point the arena is 52 metres tall. I’ve seen In the Night Garden there, I’ve grooved at the NME Awards, but can’t pretend I’ve seen the views from the top. My children aren’t old enough, but I’m taking a godson for a birthday outing. I can only hope he’s braver than I’m likely to be on our 90-minute trot across the roof.

At the start of the tour visitors are kitted in bespoke climb suits, ECCO shoes and safety harnesses by trained guides before making their way, via a short set of stairs, or lift, to the base of the tent ready to start their climb. From here, climbers will be guided, in groups of 15, to a central observation platform via a 380m long fabric walkway suspended between The O2′s distinctive yellow (yellow? did anyone else realise the masts were yellow?) masts. An observation platform at the summit enables climbers to take in spectacular 360˚ views of the Capital and many of its landmarks, including the Olympic Park, Thames Barrier, The Shard, Historic Royal Greenwich and Canary Wharf.

From £26 per person.

  • Minimum age: 10 years old.
  • Minimum height: 1.2m.
  • Maximum weight: not weigh more than 21 stone /130kg / 286lbs.
  • Maximum measurements: maximum waist measurement 125cm, maximum upper thigh measurement 75cm.

To book and to find out more, click here. Oh, and there are no refunds if your vertigo gets the better of you and you don’t climb!

Kids draw the funniest things

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

David Cameron painted by Amelia Hounan-Brooker, aged 7

We were amused about all the furore about the money British politicians have recently been spending on portraits. And even more amused to see that children often do a better job!
Education website iChild has teamed up with Moshi Monsters to launch a competition giving children the opportunity to win prizes for their portraits of famous politicians. If your child has some sharpened Crayolas handy, he or she could win an all-expenses trip to Moshi Monsters HQ . 10 runner-ups will each receive a Moshi goody bag.

Travel writers’ favourite holidays

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

And the travel writers' favourite UK beach... Holkham in Norfolk

Still on a holiday theme (I can only blame the weather), I wanted to share some insider info.

The biggest ever survey of the UK’s travel journalists – including lots of newspaper travel editors, and a few celebrity travel names such as Ben Fogle – has revealed favourite cities, countries, beaches resorts, and airlines. Each journalist was also asked where they’d go if they could have a free airline ticket to anywhere in the world.

Some of the results are surprising (who knew Las Vegas and Dubai would be the destinations that travel journalists are least likely to return to?). Others less so. France was the favourite country, New York the favourite city, and Holkham in Norfolk the favourite beach.

All the destinations in the ‘fly for free’ category were outside the Europe (hey, if you’re going to get a free airline ticket you might as well make it an expensive one!). Australia, Brazil and the USA came out top, with Bhutan and Chile making it into the top ten. Iceland was the only European nomination, with a single vote.

For the record? My favourite beach destination is Waikeke Island, off Auckland. There are more blissful beaches there than you can visit in a month of holiday, vineyards to drink and cycle your way round, laid-back bach beach houses to stay in, and green-lipped mussels to pick on the beach and cook on the gas-fired barbeques provided for free by the local council.

Now just off to mop up the windowsill, victim of yet another torrential downpour.


Best family holidays 2014

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

The turkey has been eaten, and only a few squished chocolate coins are lurking among the sofa cushions.

It’s a time for pausing, reflecting, looking forward and – best of all – planning this year’s holiday.



It’s no surprise that the airwaves are full of adverts for sunny holidays and cruises. January can be a very cruel month, and I like to get through it by thinking about sunshine. Last year’s main holiday was to a Centreparcs. I’ve nothing against them usually, but we chose the Easter holidays when temperatures were still frozen. And we decided to drive half way across Europe to a park near Strasbourg. Too far, too chilly, too… well a bit German. Lots of mullets (hair, rather than red-scaled fish), sausages and hearty types cycling for miles in circles around the park.

One of my top tips is Tots to Travel. I’ve loved watching this company evolve, from its beginnings as a provider of really well vetted villas in France to properties – equally well vetted – across Europe. They’ve just overhauled their website and have a glitzy new look, and easy to use holiday planner feature. Enter a month, location,  property size and number of nights you’d like to stay, and you’re off.

Tots Too is another favourite. This one gives the lowdown on luxury hotels that are genuinely child-friendly, and ensure all the other details are spot on too. They make sure transfer cars have age-appropriate seats, have bags of advice on kids’ clubs (sometimes you want to make sure the children are looked after all morning, every morning. Other times you might just want to dip and out for an hour or so a day) and have all the answers, whether you want to know if the children’s menu is healthy and delicious, or how long the airport transfer genuinely takes. You can even pre-book a nanny to be waiting at your resort. I took my youngest son, aged three, to the Abama in Tenerife with them last autumn and it was a massive success.

Tots Too will even pre-book a holiday nanny

Original Travel Family Holidays is another winner. Especially since they teamed up with kids entertainers Sharky & George. Innovative kits containing fun games help keep kids happy at the airport and on the plane. The team genuinely know their resorts inside out, from the kids clubs to the best spots on the beach to surf or spot turtles. And if your budget stretches to it you can book a Sharky & George team member to help look after your crew on the plane and at the resort.

My more budget top tip is Long Travel. This specialist to southern Italy is packed with family-run hotels and self-catering accommodation, all of it atmospheric and popular with Italians – which, of course, means excellent food guaranteed.


Celebrity Christmas audio stories

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Meryl Streep reads this classic Christmas tale, featuring Donner, Blitzen, Prancer et al

Happy Christmas!

Nearly there…, the UK audio download provider, has six clips of Christmas tales to enjoy.

My favourite is Meryl Streep reading The Night Before Christmas. She’s almost as good at it as my grandmother was. Every Christmas Eve she would tell us this story which she knew by heart, and I can still recite a lot of it myself. I only have to imagine the line’…while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads’ to know it’s truly Christmas.

Other celebrity tales include Joanna Lumley reading Merry Christmas, Blue Kangaroo by Emma Chichester Clark. Merry Christmas, Splat, is narrated byPhil Jupitus, while everyone’s favourite feline, Mog, undertakes a Christmas adventure in Mog’s Christmas, narrated by BAFTA award-winning actress Geraldine McEwan. Lastly, Bernard Cribbins OBE brings to life the excruciating dilemma that Santa faces every Christmas Eve in, Father Christmas Needs a Wee.

Enjoy! I’m going to download at least one to listen to in the car on the way to Christmas lunch.

Bernard Cribbins reads this hilarious story to perfection