I’ve got the World Book Day Blues!

It’s that time of year again, the date is looming ever nearer for World Book Day and I can feel parents at the school gates getting jittery.  I know I am!   Why, I hear all of you cry?  Because, I know from experience that World Book Day actually only means one thing.  A letter home from school informing you that it will be ‘oh so fun’ for your child to dress up as your favourite book character!

Don’t get me wrong, I love dressing up, I love books.  My boys like dressing up (as I write this Small is running around the garden dressed as a bat!) and they love books, but this is my twelfth year and I’ve lost the dressing up vibe, big time.  I’ve asked Small what he wants to be and he is adamant he wants to be Robin Hood, even though I can’t remember the last time he read a book with Robin Hood in it – think he just wants to carry the bow.  I’ve tried suggesting the hero from Diary of a Wimpy Kid (t shirt and jeans) or Harry Potter (we can SO do that one) or Alex Rider, Super Spy but in his world it is got to be green felt or nothing.

So, I’ve bought the felt, I’ve made the tabard, I’ve made the hat, so please, please, please keep your fingers crossed for me that on thursday he hasn’t changed his mind!

To mitigate my grumpiness can I point out I’ve already made him into an egyptian soldier, viking and evacuee this academic year!

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wizard Week – National Railway Museum

It’s the first day of the February half term holidays, its freezing cold  so do you

  1. Turn the alarm clock off, snuggle back under the duvet muttering wake me up when it’s June?
  2. Leap out of bed, yelling ‘get up boys, we’ll miss the Hogwarts Express?

Ok, slight exaggeration, we didn’t exactly leap out of bed, but we did get to yell ‘wake up, we’re going on the Hogwarts Express” which got even Tall blonde out of bed and into the car, all shivering and bleary eyed but all excited as we were going to the opening day of the National Railway Museum Wizard Week.  Small, Curly, Mr J and I had thoroughly enjoyed a trip there in November to visit Father Christmas and we’d gone about it so much Tall had decided to join us.   

It is impossible to describe the assault on the senses when you first get into the Great Hall.  These trains are so beautiful, suddenly I always understand why the lady who volunteers to polishes the brass on the Flying Scotsman does it.  It smells just right.  Not smoky or grubby, just ‘industrial’.  Within seconds the cameras were out, Curly blonde headed straight back to the Bullet Train, Small blonde photographed everything he saw, and Tall blonde forgot he was supposed to be tolerating his parents by coming and was quickly snapping away until he spotted broomstick flying!  Using the magic of the green screen, we were able to clamber onto broomsticks, smile before being amazed at the very clever people from www.fullframevents.co.uk who turned this family of muggles into wizards with a click of the mouse. 

Curly then decided it was time to ride the simulator which hadn’t been working last time we came.  I was very impressed that there is a choice of four very different rides.  After a quick debate, they chose ‘Time Traveller’ and clambered aboard for a very rocky, bumpy ride though time. 

I took the chance to pop all our coats into a locker  (love the fact that you can store all your ‘stuff’ for £1) while they enjoyed themselves before emerging chatting about the dinosaurs, pyramids and much more.  The museum was beginning to get busy so we decided to head straight outside to see Olton Hall, the steam train from all the Harry Potter films.  Just as we stepped outside the train arrived back on the platform, the distinctive engine number emerging from the smoke, boys were dumbfounded and silent for once!  

We boarded our carriage, shut the doors in case of attack by dementors and thoroughly enjoyed a short journey down the track, looking for Chocolate Frogs and hoping the Tea Trolley Witch might arrive with hot chocolate (if only!).  On arrival back, there was more than enough time for those special photos next to the train – pure magic.

Small blonde then requested a ride on the miniature railway which he’d seen from the train.  It was  freezing cold but fun as it wound its way through the very snowy gardens, at one stage ‘racing’ the Hogwarts Express!

We had lunch in the Brief Encounter Restaurant which warmed us up a treat.   Mr J and I had ‘posh’ sausage and mash, Curly loved his sausage and potato wedges, while Tall enjoyed his pasta salad.  As everywhere it was harder finding gluten free food for Small  but the restaurant staff couldn’t have been more helpful , even asking the chef which foods were safe for him and reassuring me it was alright for him to eat his gluten free bread sandwiches which we had bought with us in the restaurant. 

Refreshed, Tall disappeared to the Art Gallery and Workshops while the rest of us went to the interactive science show ‘Bubbles’.  This was full of audience participation and even though the bubble mixture was playing up, it was enjoyable for all of us.  Boys enjoyed seeing huge bubbles while Mr J and I enjoyed the patter of the presenter who is just like a young, blonde Peter Kay!

By now, we were beginning to flag but Small and Curly spotted on the daily diary ‘Wizard Duelling’ was next!   We joined the crowds and watched Merlin battle the evil Gerard amidst much ‘he’s behind you’ and magic tricks – great theatre and a fantastic end to our trip.

What else did we do?  We saw Birds of Prey, including a very sweet ‘Hedwig’.  We watched ‘real’ trains going in and out of York Station.  We made a wizard ID badge.  We photographed lots and lots of trains. We saw small children loving Derek the Dragon – how does that work?    We sat underneath an engine.  We ‘rode’ the Japanese bullet train.  We searched the Warehouse for lavatories decorated with flowers and ran through onto Platform 9 ¾.

On the drive home we all agreed that we had all thoroughly enjoyed our day out, no mean achievement for a museum given the very different ages in our family and it was a great start to the Half Term holidays.

Here are our favourite bits

Mr J                       Riding the Hogwarts Express

Me                         Standing underneath an engine

Tall Blonde          Seeing Hogwarts Express

Curly Blonde      Seeing Hogwarts Express

Small Blonde      Playing the games in the Warehouse

Grown Up Facts & Figures

Admission to the National Railway Museum is free and the following events are all free to watch : Wizard Duels, Owl Displays, Derek the Dragon, Magic Hatter and Science Shows

Making a Wizard ID Badge £1.50 per child

Simulator Ride £3.00 per passenger

Minature Railway – Donation of 50p per person suggested

Ride on the Hogwarts Express £2.00 per person but you can see it come in and out of the station for free

Lockers – £1.00

Broomstick Riding Picture.  £5 for a 7×5, £7 for a 9×6 

We were lucky enough to invited to visit the National Railway Musuem and our invite included a ride for us all on the Hogwarts Express, a photograph by www.fullframeevents.co.uk , lunch, Wizard ID badge activity, Simulator Ride and a ride on the Minature RailwayAll opinions expressed in this blog are our own however.

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


Ok, we’re not even going to pretend otherwise, we love snow and playing in it!  

As soon as Curly and Small woke up and saw how much snow there was, they were dressed and raring to go, heading out to ‘the dip’ to sledge.


Up and down they went over and over, cheeks getting rosier, smiles getting bigger, and bigger, hair getting wetter as they rolled and rolled in the snow making snow angels!



When their legs got too tired to climb the slopes, it was time for snowmen building



and a much needed tow home by ‘husky dog’ Dad for hot chocolate and warm pyjamas.




Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Brrr, we want the snow

It’s a cold, cold, cold day and we’re just waiting for the snow to come.  Last night it reached -8 in the back garden, perfect weather for making ice balls.

Ice balls are a big tradition here.  We started making them three years ago on a trip to Northumberland, where after 3 days of solid snow we had run out of every single play idea and desperately needed to entertain 3 boys!  Now every chance we get, Small blonde and I decorate the trees to ‘welcome’ the snow.

Fill an old yogurt pot with water then pop inside whatever you fancy.  Over the years, we’ve used glitter, polar animals, even a ship during Curly blonde’s Titanic obsession phase!

 Small blonde is experimenting with using lego men this winter,

while I’ve chosen seed heads and berries.  When you are happy with what you have popped inside the water, add a piece of string – about 20cms long and leave the pot outside to freeze. 

This is the really exciting part for Small blonde (and me if I’m honest!). I think it is impossible not be impressed when finally the water is frozen and we can tip the ice ball out.

All that’s left is to tie the string onto the tree and wait for the compliments!

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Splish, splash puddles

Can you remember the last time you thought you could walk on water?


Can you remember the sound that water makes when you swish and swoosh through it?

Can you remember how cold your toes feel as the water swirls around your wellingtons?

If not, why not?!  Pull on your wellies and go play in the rain with your child.  Jump in puddles, run around and feel the rain on your face.  Sing to the skies and you know what, it is fun.  Huge fun.  You’ll love it, your children will love it, and it’s free!


Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Silent Sunday

Posted in Silent Sunday | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Rockford’s Rock Opera – A Review

Oops back in December, I can remember being very pleased to receive a copy of  ‘Rockford’s Rock Opera’ on DVD  as I had read a lot of positive reviews about this ecological musical and was keen to share it with the boys.  However, Christmas came and I must have tidied it away somewhere ‘safe’ so you can imagine the smile on my face today when it turned up!  The timing couldn’t have been better either both Small and Curly blonde were at home today with a bug, so we snuggled together in our ‘sick blankets’ and watched.  

For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Rockford’s Rock Opera is the story of a boy called Moog and his dog, Rockford and their adventures meeting extinct creatures on the Island of Infinity.  It began life as an enhanced audio book in 2009 (this means audio songs have been combined with images) and was released via the web.  It has now been downloaded or streamed over 1,000,000 times and has been very well received in the classrooms across the world.

So what did we think of it?  Curly was very uncertain to start with but was hooked by a dog poo joke very early on, whilst Small blonde really, really now wishes he could have a Cocklebur Ick of his own.  Musically it is refreshingly interesting, the songs are deceptively simple, not at all twee and toe tapping and we all enjoyed having the words on the screen to sing along with (as we like doing in this house!).  The images although simple were bright and colourful enough to hold attention and worked well with the music.   We enjoyed the story and sharing it has led to quite a few ecological discussions already.

This musical is also available in CD form and as Apps and I think it would be fantastic on a long car journey.

For more information about Rockford’s Rock Opera, why not visit their website http://www.rockfordsrockopera.com 

I was lucky enough to receive a free copy of Rockford’s Rock Opera to review.  All opinions expressed are entirely our own.

Posted in Blog, Product Review | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment