Repetition and variation: Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

Can you believe that the movie Groundhog Day is now 23 years old? I remember going to see it at the cinema in 1993 with my friend Karen – it was the end of my first year at University and Karen’s year abroad in the UK (from the US). It took a while to get one’s head around the story – I remember my initial reaction being “what was that all about?” – I was hooked on the desire for things to always be properly explained – abstraction, for a while, seemed unacceptable.

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Best bits of 2016 so far

JJ at Natural History Museum

Never let it be said that I would let something momentously bad stop me from attempting to, not only have a good time, but also ensure that my children get to have a good time too.

I seem to recall some time back in late December coming up with a list of things which I would like to be able to achieve during the course of this year. Some of them were things like “read one book a month” or “write X amount of words a month” – basically things that it just wasn’t possible to achieve with all the turmoil that I’ve been dealing with in the interim. Having said that I have managed to read a fair few books – nothing heavy-going certainly but by my standards pretty good all the same!

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Changing the guard

black & white at the palaceJust lately I have begun to notice that six year old JJ seems to be having something of a developmental leap forward. For such a long time now he has been stuck on picture books and the only reading he has done has been his homework (Biff, Chip and Kipper books) from school – often under a bit of duress! However we recently went into a local bookshop together with EJ and I told them each they could pick out whatever book they liked. EJ went standard – Blaze of Glory – a picture book based on the Nickolodeon cartoon character, however JJ picked out his first ever paperback – Supercat vs. The Party Pooper by Jeanne Willis.Supercat

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A random list

Once again I find myself scrambling for something to write, unable to determine a coherent subject with which to bombard the world so here is some random stuff I have been doing/thinking lately:

  1. Easter holidays have been a welcome break from our recent 30 mile commute to school in the mornings.
  2. Meeting up with Elfa (Californian Mum in London) and both sets of children for a picnic in Bushy Park recently was lovely and we whiled away several hours playing, eating, scrambling up, down, in and through fallen trees, and most significantly, wielding sticks of every size and shape – lots of imaginative play with a stick standing in for everything from a gun to a wand to a conductor’s baton.
  3. Our local park does the most divine home made ice cream which is bad for both my pocket and my waistline.
  4. If you take your kids to a children’s farm (in our case we thought we’d try out Hounslow Urban Farm near Heathrow – fab if you’re either a lover of mental alpacas, demonic goats or plane-spotting) don’t bother buying the animal feed unless you have a particular urge to get your hand comprehensively licked clean by a range of farmyard animals whilst your children disappear into the distance on miniature John Deere tractors.
  5. I’m not sure whether to sob or cheer at Donald Trump’s recent statement on punishing women who choose to get an abortion – on the one hand it is incredibly scary that this man is even on the campaign trail, on the other hand it seems that he has shot himself in the foot by showing his true colours here and not being enough of a ‘politician’ to veil the truth.
  6. I have been glued to this year’s edition of The Voice UK as it seems to be the first time ever that nearly everyone who got through to live finals could actually sing. Having said that, is it just me that thinks Lydia has only got through because they waited until the semi-final to mention her tragic family loss? Hearing Boy George and his team sing the Culture Club ballad ‘Victims’ was a blast from the past – a song I loved in the 80s but probably haven’t heard since. Shame the man himself seems to have had some kind of voice transplant.
  7. I thought I’d got off pretty lightly on the threenager front with EJ until he had the mother of all tantrums because I wouldn’t let him take a small tractor into the ladies loos down at the HUF (see above).
  8. Somebody please remind me to send Lovefilm back the DVD I have had sitting unopened on a shelf for the last 9 months – if August Osage County has that little appeal to me as a way to pass my time then it’s not worth keeping! (Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this – Lovefilm must be kept in business through people like me!).
  9. Kingston upon Thames has really got a lot going for it these days. Recently I have sampled real Asian street food and enjoyed the buzzing vibe which comes with that kind of market – something which you just don’t get with other provincial towns further out of the capital.
  10. The two things I took away from The Ideal Home Show were a) the realisation that it is possible to buff your nails to a glassy shine and b) Vitamix blenders rule!

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I Want My Hat Back at the NT – a review

I Want My Hat Back at The National Theatre Photo Credit: ©Richard Davenport 2015,, 07545642134

I Want My Hat Back at The National Theatre
Photo Credit: ©Richard Davenport 2015,, 07545642134

When I was a child I remember seeing some fabulous shows at the National Theatre including an adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s classic picture book Where The Wild Things Are. In keeping with the art of adaptation the NT is currently running their own version of I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. It is a sparsely worded tale which myself and the children were unfamiliar with – the story of a sleepy bear with a much loved red pointy hat and a cheeky rabbit who takes a shine to said headgear and steals it whilst the bear is napping.

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Review of The Tiger Who Came to Tea at the Lyric

London, UK. 03.07.2014. THE TIGER WHO CAME TO TEA roars into the West End. Adapted from Judith Kerr's book, and directed by, David  Wood, the children's show opens at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue. Abbey Norman plays the little girl, Sophie,  Jenanne Redman, her mummy, and Matthew Dudley, the tiger, Sophie's daddy, the Milkman and the Postman. Photograph © Jane Hobson.

Photograph © Jane Hobson.

Last weekend we were invited to the Lyric Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue to review their current show: an adaptation of the classic picture book The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr. I recently took the kids to another picture book adaptation, I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen at the National Theatre which I decided to review without being asked (it was brilliant!), so I was interested to see how the adaptations compared – from both an adult and a child’s perspective.

The first thing I have to say is that I loved having an excuse to take the kids to a beautiful old London West End theatre and it was a complete contrast to the very modern temporary theatre at the National which we had experienced the week before.

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On missing Blogfest 2015

Rabbit jumpingBack in June 2014, a year into my blogging journey, I missed the first Britmums Live conference I had the chance to attend – even though I’d bought a ticket. As I’ve mentioned before I managed to double book myself that year and our family holiday took precedence. However, despite having a really lovely holiday, I was really gutted at the time. I remember sitting in the car as we drove home from Norfolk flicking through my Twitter feed relentlessly, torn between the desire to pretend it wasn’t happening and wanting to feel in some way connected to events. I took in every Morrisons cake and staged selfie and worried that I’d missed the boat as far as bonding with the people I’d been chatting with for many months was concerned.

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A review of Squires Badshot Lea Ice Grotto ADVENT-ture

Elf with clue

Ever since having children I have been a big fan of our local garden centre. I would go as far as to say that I could probably count the number of times I visited a garden centre before children on two hands. However, as any desperate parent of demanding munchkins will know, any venue which provides the combination of coffee/café, live pets, and in the case of Badshot Lea, an outdoor play area and Cbeebies on telly (!!) is a venue which will become a regular part of your world very quickly. I even go there on my own sometimes to browse the scented candles and Katie Alice cookware in peace, but I digress.

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An impromptu picnic at Farnham Park with Trespass Picnic Rucksack

EJ in Farnham Park

Over the summer holidays we visited beautiful, picturesque Farnham Park once or twice and noticed that construction was taking place to replace the old play structures with something completely unique. Unfortunately the work didn’t actually finish until the kids were back at school, however I took my two along last Sunday and we discovered this wonderful wooden wonderland filled with forts, trip trap bridges, never ending balance beams, wobbly bridges, giant spiders with climbing webs and, thankfully, the old zipwire still in place!

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The Lido

Lazy Lido days

Where we live there is a Lido located literally five minutes’ walk away, down next to our local recreation ground. Obviously it is only open over the summer months and in recent years we haven’t made the most of it due to a number of factors: weather, age of children, cost. However this year, in a drive to keep the venue economically viable the price drops by half after 3.30pm in the afternoon, which means after school visits are back on the agenda (£5.65 for me and the boys as under threes go free).

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