Tag Archives: competition

Blind Date with a Book

Books HDThere is nothing G loves to do more than read; she really is her mother’s daughter when it comes to that particular pastime. Whenever she has a spare 5 minutes, and even if she doesn’t, you can usually find her with a book in hand, curled up somewhere quiet in the house. In fact, if you ever need to track G down, the best place to start is her bedroom as the chances are you’ll find her on her bed, engrossed in the story unfolding before her and completely lost to the outside world. Mike and M will willingly tell you that I am no different, much to M’s disgust, so the occasional times when it’s just G and me in the house can be surprisingly quiet.

read-for-my-Not long into the new term, G’s secondary school announced that they were taking part in  Read For My School 2016 organised by the Book Trust, which encourages children in Years 3-8 from across the UK to see how many books they can read between Christmas and Easter. Every school that takes up the challenge is given access to the RFMS website and each pupil registered has an on-line diary in which they can record the books they’ve read, make recommendations, write book reviews and even access some books on-line to read. G was excited by this opportunity and has been faithfully updating her reading record on a weekly basis, not least because both RFMS and her school library have offered the incentives of prizes for various achievements to the students taking part. I have asked G to be completely honest about the books she adds to her list and only include those she has actually read since Christmas, telling her that others may be a little unscrupulous when it comes to winning prizes, but that I want it to be an accurate record of her reading habits.

As well as this reading challenge, the school library has been running other events throughout the year to encourage their pupils to read, an approach which has really impressed me. At the start of the school year, G wrote her reasons for wanting to meet author Huw Powell and during 20160210_160919the recent half-term, she penned an acrostic poem as part of another competition to mark Harry Potter night in early February. These initiatives not only encourage the children to read, but also help them develop key writing and literacy skills in a fun way, something which really benefits G as, despite her passion for reading, she struggles to capture her imagination and express her thoughts on paper.

Just before half-term, G came home absolutely buzzing with excitement about the “Book Blind Date”, which she had taken part in during her day at school. This time the school library had wrapped up a number of books and added a tag which simply contained 3 or 4 words hinting towards the theme of the story. G had chosen one which intriguingly stated:


and was desperate to see what book she had picked. She waited until we got home and then, with great fanfare and both M and me watching, she ripped the paper from the front cover to reveal her selection. Her choice, 20160210_160938“Shipwrecked” by Siobhan Curham, was something she’d probably never have chosen for herself, but this fantastic idea of a blind date with a book really appealed to her and offered her a new author to experience and perhaps a new genre to further explore. I loved this particular event as it grabbed G’s attention and those of her friends, as evidenced by the flurry of text messages that followed the grand reveal as they compared titles, and even appealed to M, who is desperate to know whether he’ll have the chance to take part when he’s in Year 7!

The Dr Who Experience

20150725_094348The same weekend we dipped our toes into the Wagamama dining experience, we also visited the Dr Who Experience in Cardiff. This was a trip that has been a long time in the planning and which was the result of M winning the Grand Prize at the Big Bang Science Fair that we attended at the NEC earlier this year. There has been a fair amount of to-ing and fro-ing to settle on a date that suited all involved, but finally the day arrived and the whole family, plus one extra excited 9 year-old, started on our way. We arrived at Cardiff Bay bright and early and meandered our way in the glorious Welsh sunshine towards the purpose-built centre, following an eager M, his friend N and a slightly less certain G.


Our visit started with the interactive tour, which led us on an intergalactic adventure to help 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi, save the universe. It starts in the Gallifrey Museum and weaves it way through various unmistakeable Dr Who locations before reaching its thrilling conclusion. DWS8LondonCapaldiPix2.jpgDespite the initial reluctance of both M and G, neither of whom are fond of loud noises, darkened rooms or unexpected surprises, we made our way through unscathed and N, a much more avid Dr Who fan than M will likely ever be, eagerly took up the challenges we faced. The experience asks that no photos or filming is done during the interactive tour to ensure there are no spoilers out there for future visitors and we were more than happy to oblige.

Adventure completed, we headed into the exhibition hall, which is a veritable feast for any die-hard Whovian who is lucky enough to visit. I could quite happily have spent a couple of hours perusing the costumes, props and other pieces of memorabilia from the past 50 years of this cult TV classic. I was thrilled to see an original Dalek and various incarnations of the Cybermen, the best-loved classic enemies of the Doctor, placed sympathetically amongst their more modern counterparts. There was a fantastic array of costumes featuring not just those of each of the 13 Doctors seen on our screens, but also a selection from some of their ever-faithful companions. Awaiting discovery around every corner were unimaginable treasures including K9, multiple sonic screwdrivers and the iconic Time And Relative Dimension In Space (better known as the TARDIS to you and me) – both inside and out. We spent a happy hour or so exploring all that was on offer, everyone enjoyed the visit and I think I possibly proved myself to be the biggest Dr Who geek of the family!

Sports Day success

Sports Day conjures up so many memories for me: of races run, giggles with friends, frenzied cheering and the exhilaration of realising that your House has actually won the coveted cup.  A day full of so many heightened emotions and today, for me, held more than any other in the past.  Not surprisingly I wondered what the day had in store for M and worried a little about how he’d manage the races with his cumbersome pump pack strapped to his back and his tube taped to his face.  And it was the end of an era for G.  We’re in to the final stretch:  May half-term is over, SATs have finished, the Year 6 production rehearsals are ramping up and in less than 6 weeks time, my first baby will have finished her Junior school years and “big school” beckons for September.

One of the very many things I love about the kids’ school is that they still hold a competitive Sports Day, where winning means something, but is not as important as team spirit, or encouragement, or taking part. or cheering for everyone in the race, whichever House they represent or whatever position they finish.  I still remember the very first Sports Day I saw at this school, when G moved there half-way through her Year 4 year.  I was instantly impressed by the support and encouragement given to, and by, every year group to each other.  I saw Year 6 boys cheering their peers on, waiting by the finish line to welcome the last child in,20150612_100530 however old they were and thumping them on the back for a job well done. When I saw that I knew that we had made the right decision in choosing this school for our pair and looked forward to them becoming a part of it.

Three years on from that first Sports Day and I stood proudly on the sidelines cheering both my children on. The first half of the morning was occupied with following M’s class around the circuit of team races and the occasional mad-dash removal of his pump pack when it suddenly became evident that neither skipping ropes or sacks were going to work with a heavy back-pack in situ. He took part in every activity and my heart swelled when his entire class chanted his name as he completed a second turn in the sack race for his House. For his lap in the family relay – a team consisting of one child from each year group – photo credit to L Dacrehe and I agreed that he could race pump free and with his tube strapped down and, boy, was it worth it. He flew down the track at lightening speed, proving to all watching that his tube really doesn’t stand in his way, especially not when it comes to winning points for his House.

20150612_120335Disappointingly, I couldn’t watch as much of G as I would have liked, but despite only being able to watch her complete one of the initial team races, I was able to cheer her on during what I was thought was her only other event, the over-and-under race.  To my surprise, as she and I stood side-by-side watching M run his relay, surrounded by their House, she announced that she was also running in the Year 6 girls’ relay, a race I would have never anticipated her taking part in as she’s really not a runner at heart.  And so, this year’s Sports Day experience finished in fine fashion with M taking G’s place next to me, cheering his big sister on as she competed in her final race of her Junior school days.

Kracklecorn? What’s Kracklecorn?

Courtesy of gruffalo.com

Courtesy of gruffalo.com



Kracklecorn! Why, didn’t you know?

(with apologies to Julia Donaldson and the Gruffalo)




20141002_201822No?  Well neither did I until we travelled to London for M’s September GOSH appointment. I had left Mike to keep an eye on the children whilst I fought my way to the train’s buffet car for a much-needed injection of caffeine.  As I waited for my latte to be made, I spotted an attractive looking blue and white striped bag hidden amongst the more familiar packs of crisps and bars of chocolate and, intrigued as to what it was, I asked if I could look at the packet and ran my experienced eye over the extremely short list of ingredients.  I was thrilled to discover that the four ingredients (maize corn, rapeseed oil, cane sugar and sea salt) were all 100% safe for both G and M and naturally snapped up a bag of Kracklecorn for them to taste, with fingers tightly crossed that I might just have found another M-friendly snack for them to enjoy.

I think they broke records in devouring this popcorn treat and Mike and I barely managed to sneak even the tiniest of morsels to taste ourselves.  I’m not a fan of salted popcorn usually, but the balance of the not-too-sweet and the not-too-salty was spot on and even I found little to fault with this snack.  As the children begged for more, I had visions of having to buy out all the stock on the train and heave my haul around London, so imagine my delight – and Mike’s relief – when I discovered that it is readily available at most Tesco stores, including, thank goodness, those a stone’s throw from our front door.

For those of you yet to discover this brand, Kracklecorn is hand-made by Portlebay Popcorn in their factory, lovingly known as “The Poppery” in Devon and is available in a huge range of flavours, the like of which I’ve never seen before.  Unfortunately, the “Classic” sweet and salty is the only one suitable for my pair, but I can assure you that the “Lemon Sherbet” and “Crispy Bacon and Maple Syrup” flavours are equally delicious and unequivocally moreish – a fact that Mike cannot dispute as we fought over who would finish the bag of lemon sherbet popcorn on Saturday night.

20141002_201805I contacted Portlebay Popcorn to ask for some samples to review and when this parcel arrived on our doorstep, G and M thought all their Christmases had come at once.  I asked for their thoughts as they munched their way through yet another bag and the comments “delicious“, “amazing” and “10/10” were just about audible as they crammed more popcorn in. Despite the best efforts of 2 small children in the 7Y2D household in the run up to Christmas, we still have several packs of Portlebay Popcorn waiting to be enjoyed and the question has been what to do with them all as G has been left to devour them on her own whilst M is on his elemental diet.  I found the solution today.

popcornToday is the perfect day to be offering my very first blog competition as it is, believe it or not, National Popcorn Day, though admittedly this is celebrated mostly in the USA where they consume an unbelievable quantity of this sweet treat each year.  Thanks to the generosity of Portlebay, I am offering 2 lovely readers the opportunity to win 3 bags each of the “Classic” Kracklecorn to enjoy.  Simply enter via the link and I wish you all the very best of luck and happy munching!

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*Disclaimer – We were sent packs of Portlebay Popcorn for the purpose of an independent review and the views expressed are entirely my own and those of G and M.