Fantasy titles make fantastic festive gifts

Are you splashing out on a book advent calendar and need some suggestions to make up your 24 titles?  Are you following the more frugal four gift rule of want, need, wear and read and would like to make sure each gift is extra special?  Or are you just looking for something easy to wrap?  Here Gill Hart of Lindum Books picks out a few of her fantastical and seasonal favourites that might prove the perfect present if you’re buying for mini ones this year…

OUaWWOnce Upon a Wild Wood – Chris Riddell (Pan Macmillan, HB, £12.99)
Little Green Raincape is on her way to Rapunzel’s party, deep in the wild woods. The way is long and dark, but Green is a smart girl. Smart enough to turn down apples offered by kindly old ladies, smart enough to turn down travel advice from helpful wolves, and above all, smart enough to solve a wealth of classic fairy tale problems – not least mend a lovelorn beast’s broken heart.  Once Upon a Wild Wood is a richly imagined story packed full of familiar fairy tale characters as you’ve never seen them before.  Including Red Riding Hood, Thumbelina, Rapunzel, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, the three bears, the seven dwarfs and many more!  A visual feast on every page, illustrated with warmth and humour and full of witty details to discover – this is ex Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell at his picture book best!

TTPThe Truth Pixie – Matt Haig (Cannongate, HB, £9.99)
Matt Haig has become known as an ambassador for the importance of talking about mental health and this heartwarming story, brilliantly illustrated throughout by Chris Mould, is being called the Reason’s to Stay Alive for seven-year olds.  “Wherever she is, whatever the day, She only has one kind of thing to say. Just as cats go miaow and cows go moo, The Truth Pixie can only say things that are true.”  A very funny and lovable tale of how one special pixie learned to love herself.  The Truth Pixie is an enchanting, rhyming story that will delight younger readers.

TSMMThe Snowman – Michael Morpurgo (Penguin, HB, £12.99)
Michael Morpurgo has re-imagined Raymond Briggs’ classic The Snowman for a new generation of readers.  One December morning, James is thrilled to wake up to see snow falling. He spends the whole day making his perfect snowman; he has coal eyes, an old green hat and scarf and a tangerine nose, just like the snowman from his favourite story.  That night, something magical happens – the Snowman comes to life!  He and James take to the skies on a magical adventure where they meet someone very special.  Inspired by the timeless tale, Michael Morpurgo and illustrator Robin Shaw have created the perfect Christmas story for the whole family.

NSCSNoel Streatfeild’s Christmas Stories – Noel Streatfeild (Little Brown, HB, £12.99)
A captivating collection of festive stories from the author of Ballet Shoes.  There are auditions on stage and antics on ice, trips to the pantomime, holiday adventures, and laughter shared with family and friends.  Originally written for annuals, magazines and the radio from the 1940s-60s, these stories by this much-loved author have never been collected before and are sure to be a hit with readers of all ages.

SWCThe Spiderwick Chronicles: The Completely Fantastical Edition – Tony Diterlizzi & Holly Black (Simon & Schuster, HB, £14.99)
When the Grace children moved into the old, abandoned Spiderwick Mansion, little did they realise that their lives would never be the same again. Having uncovered a fantastical world of sprites, faeries and goblins there’s no turning back. The Ultimate Spiderwick Chronicles features all five of the original books plus great new bonus content!  Discover the three “lost” chapters that were included in the Nestle Cereal Partners cereal boxes, and the special “development” section showing sketches and early drafts. Readers both old and new, young and old will be completely immersed in the world of Spiderwick with this ultimate collection.

BoDPPLa Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One – Philip Pullman (Penguin, PB, £7.99)
Philip Pullman’s prequel to his Dark Materials series is both for fans and those new to Lyra’s world.  Malcolm Polstead’s Oxford life has been one of routine, ordinary even.  He is happiest playing with his daemon, Asta, in their canoe, La Belle Sauvage.  But now as the rain builds, the world around Malcolm and Asta it seems is set to become increasingly far from ordinary.  Finding himself linked to a baby by the name of Lyra Belacqua, Malcolm is forced to undertake the challenge of his life and to make a dangerous journey that will change him and Lyra forever.

For more recommendations from the Lincoln bookseller call 01522 262374 or pop into their store in Bailgate, Lincoln.

For more Christmas gift guides visit www.arepops.com 

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Freckle Productions to perform a purr-fect play

#Blogtober18: X-rays and broken bones

“Tabby McTat was a busker’s cat with a miaow that was loud and strong…”

In Julia Donaldson’s feline tale McTat is purr-fectly happy singing all day long with his best friend Fred until one day Fred sustains an injury whilst chasing a thief and the two are separated.  Tabby finds new home comforts but soon misses his friend.

The cast of Tabby McTat. Photo Credit Robin Savage (3)

Fans of the rhyming story and those who don’t yet know whether they find each other again can enjoy a brand new stage adaptation of the book when Freckle Productions performs it at the New Theatre Royal in Lincoln.

The show may be new but Freckle Productions has previously bought Donaldson’s creations to the stage with Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales and say “Brought to life on stage with original songs and inventive puppetry, Tabby McTat is a heart-warming story of friendship and loyalty”.

The cast of Tabby McTat. Photo Credit Robin Savage (7) (1)“I have a very soft spot for Tabby McTat, perhaps because I used to be a busker myself, and also because I am a great cat-lover, says Julia Donaldson, “So I’m absolutely delighted that Freckle Productions are going to be dramatizing my story and I can’t wait to see it.”

Suitable for children and families of all ages, the show’s tour is coming to the city venue on November 4th at 1.30pm and 4.30pm and November 5th at 11am and 1.30pm.  Tickets are £14, under 2s free.

Find out more at www.TabbyMcTat.com or book tickets at www.newtheatreroyallincoln.co.uk

Fortunately Fred recovers from his broken leg and bang to the head but he’s not the only one who’s incurred a hospital stay due to an accident.  For more stories on the theme of X-rays and broken bones click on the #Blogtober18 image below. 

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Monstrously good reasons to indulge

#Blogtober18: Quick hide the wrapper #chocolateweek

Today’s #Blogtober18 prompt is in honour of Chocolate Week (October 15th-21st).  Chocolate is definitely one of my favourite things in life and, as “the UK’s biggest chocolate celebration” is held in October, it seems perfect to pair it with another of my favourite things – Halloween.

And I’m not the only one who thinks that they go well together as several of my fellow bloggers have already posted helpful recipes with seasonally sweet suggestions.

Who doesn’t enjoy making food look like other things?  As a vegetarian I’m not usually a fan of eating things with eyes but Eva of Captain Bobcat’s Pumpkin and Choc Chip Cookie Monsters for Halloween, Becky of Baby Budgeting’s Spider CupCakes and Dannica of The Inspiration Edit’s Frankenstein Monster Halloween Cupcakes all look very delicious.

I have to admit that I didn’t know that Halloween bark was a thing but seeing as both Sophie of Soph-obsessed (Super Easy Loaded Halloween Bark Recipe) and Jenny of The Gingerbread House (Easy Halloween Bark Recipe) immediately suggested their bark recipes it obviously is.  My emerging culinary skills very much liked that the word “easy” is included in both their titles, my sprinkle-obsessed three year old would have great enthusiasm for the decoration involved and it would be lovely to bag pieces up as something a little bit different to shop bought sweets for trick or treaters.

HalloweenBagels

Not fully satisfied the urge to sprinkle or eat eyes yet?  Then The Gingerbread House’s Jenny has also included instructions to make these Halloween Monster Bagels on her website.

HalloweenCocktailsAll good things come in threes though don’t they?  We have chocolate and Halloween, why not throw some wine in the mix too?  Amanda of The Ana Mum Diary designed these Easy But Very Spooky Halloween Drinks one of which is alcoholic and one which uses a sparkling pear drink to ensure mini monsters have something to wash the chocolate down with too.

#Blogtober18

 

After the carving…

#Blogtober18: Perfect Recipes For You #nationalbakingweek

I got just a little excited at my first visit to a pumpkin patch last year (and the kids enjoyed it a lot too) and, even if supermarket bought, carving pumpkins has long been part of our Halloween celebrations.

Sadly though, we have often contributed to the annual more than 18,000 tonnes of pumpkin flesh waste so this year I’ve turned to my fellow bloggers for inspiration to make sure we don’t even lose one gram this time.

PumpkinSoupPumpkin soup is my first recourse to dealing with the flesh of the orange fruit and invites special memories of our wedding reception where it was served as the starter – if we eat it this year at least I won’t have the worry of not spilling it all over a white dress.  Deborah’s recipe over on her blog Country Heart and Home is not only titled “quick & easy” but also suggests “a glass of wine to wash it all down” so I’m sure I’d welcome this for a warming dinner – Quick & Easy Pumpkin Soup!  Kerry at Blissful Domestication adds a bit of heat to the mix for her Spicy Pumpkin Soup and also explains how to save the seeds in order to create your own pumpkin patch ready for next year’s harvest.

pumpkinstew.jpgSarah at Kippers and Curtains details a Pumpkin Pasty Recipe which is perfect for incorporating left overs in and Laura at Mind, Madness, Miles and Mum Me Time, now she has “two smallies in tow”, creates Pumpkin and Potato Curry and Sweet and Savoury Pumpkin Seeds as part of her “fabulous festive food”.

A Pumpkin Stew with Chickpeas and Moroccan Spices cooked up by Corina can be found on Searching for Spice and, “full of flavour and warmly spiced”, it’s a “great vegetarian one-pot meal that freezes well and is easy to prepare”.

And, before adding sugar to your scales, why not try Wendy’s Pumpkin Pasta as she describes on Daisies & Pie.

PumpkinPieJust the words pumpkin pie are so evocative of all things Fall (American autumn) to me so I’m sure the taste would be positively transportative.  Country Heart and Home’s Deborah has a recipe and step by step for Pumpkin Pie on her blog and anything that says “Serve with clotted cream, ice cream, whipped or pouring cream” gets my vote.  Jane from Hodge Podge Days tried out a “really simple” Honey Spiced Pumpkin Pie and if you need a gluten free recipe then check out Jules’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie Recipe on her blog Pondering Parenthood.

PumpkinCakeWhilst Hodge Podge Days’s Jane’s boys loved her pumpkin pie, Jane herself thought her Halloween Pumpkin Cake with Cinnamon Frosting was “delicious”.  Using “the flesh, the firm pale bit, not the slimy gloopy bit”, the amount of cake batter created made not only “one decent sized cake” but also “12 yummy cupcakes”.

PumpkinMuffinsThe words “surprisingly easy to make” reeled me into taking further notice of Emma’s Savvy Savings’s Bake Pumpkin Spice Muffins post that describes trying out Aldi’s recipe along with her daughter as a great opportunity to introduce new vegetables such as pumpkin and squash to children.

PumpkinCookiesThat’s pie, cake and muffins covered but if it’s brownies or cookies you’d like to whip up then take a look at Claire’s suggestions on She Eats and Corina from Searching for Spice adds a spooky twist to her autumnal offering by including chocolate spiders on her Spiced Pumpkin Cookies for Halloween.

And if you’re looking for other sweet bites to share with any trick or treating visitors then try making a batch of Eva’s Pumpkin Gingerbread Cookie Bats for Halloween Recipe posted on Captain Bobcat or her Homemade Pumpkin Granola Bar Mummies for Halloween.

Click here to find out more about National Baking Week (October 15-21).

#Blogtober18

 

What does the colour grey make you think of?

#Blogtober18: Never Doing That Again!

Recently I attempted to enter a competition which challenged entrants to pose as the Lincoln Imp.

I gathered together some craft supplies – including buying a rather generous amount of grey felt because the shop didn’t sell that colour in individual squares – and, together with a bit of brown craft foam, I sewed a headband with imp ears and horns ready for my mini ones to wear for a photo on Lincolnshire Day (October 1st).

Problem was it turned out that you were supposed to post your photos before that day so that the organiser could use them on the day itself…

So, not only did the missed deadline mean I could I not even enter, I was also left with a lot of spare grey felt (just the one shade), not a colour that I had an idea for another project for.

Fortunately there are a lot of creative bloggers out there so I asked one or two if they could think of any ideas.

Tilly from Buddy and Bean suggested “bunting and garlands in various shapes” and Katie from Mum of 2.5 proved she’s a mum that lives in the UK by thinking of “clouds for a cot mobile”.

Amanda from The Ana Mum Diary also thought of decorations saying “I made felt birds as tree decorations a few years ago and I still use them now. Draw yourself a template and use something like cotton wool as wadding. Would look really effective if you had lots of them.”

“A wonderful bookmark with yellow polka dots or a wolf brooch” came to Becky of A Beautiful Space‘s mind which inspired me to think of perhaps making a big bad wolf to go in a story sack for The Three Little Pigs.

Becky’s boys clearly have a very creative mum.  Writing at Raucous by Nature, she has previously made her “son a Kristoff from Frozen costume using grey felt” which would certainly be an answer to the volume of the material I’ve found myself left with.

And Sam Curtis is obviously already planning for events later in the year with her lovely present idea – “the obvious thing to make is either an elephant, or a mouse?  Or both?  The elephant would obviously have to look terrified at the sight of the mouse…  Totally perfect for Christmas gifting, especially if you printed the Twas the night before Christmas poem off, to go with it”.

If you had an abundance of grey felt what would you make?  Let us know by leaving a comment below.

#Blogtober18

 

New pumpkin trail brings half term fun to uphill Lincoln

#Blogtober18

Have you been keeping an eye on all the additions to my Haunted halls, pumpkin patches and terrifying trains family-friendly Lincolnshire Halloween event list?  If so, then you’ll have seen that I can now add horrifying hill to that headline as Visit Lincoln explains…

It’s not a trick, it’s a real family treat – so make sure you take part in Lincoln’s newest trail and track down some fantastic Autumn prizes!

We want everyone to take a leaflet and rise to the challenge of the fantastic free Uphill Lincoln Pumpkin Trail, which is bursting with half-term and Halloween fun.

This Trail has been devised by a partnership of the Bailgate Guild, Visit Lincoln and Lincoln BIG and uses the artistic talents of staff at The Little Pottery Studio at The Lawn.

It also follows in the footsteps of Lincoln’s traditional colourful family trails, which have won the city a worldwide following!

Visit Lincoln has drawn-up a brilliant Pumpkin Trail leaflet, which challenges families to find 44 pottery pumpkins and solve some fiendish clues. The pumpkins are going on display in the windows of shops and other businesses in the area which stretches from The Strait to Newport Arch.

Every pumpkin has been individually painted, including 20 decorated by Lincoln Minster School pupils, adding extra fun to this experience and the Halloween vibe is being heightened with the hanging of spooky black and orange bunting, as well as Lincoln Loves Kids bunting!

Pumpkin Trail
Peter Mason Charlotte House, Valerie Hope Wig & Mitre, Charlotte Goy Visit Lincoln, Nicola Lockwood Bells Tea Room and Bailgate Guild Chair, Richard Baxter Lincoln BIG.

The Uphill Pumpkin Trail will run from Saturday, October 20th, to Sunday, November 4th.  It’s so easy to take part.  All families need to do is pick-up a trail leaflet from the city’s Visitor Information Centre in Castle Hill or participating shops and businesses – or simply download from the Visit Lincoln website at:  www.visitlincoln.com/pumpkintrail then go exploring. 

Bailgate Guild Chair Nicola Lockwood said: “This follows July’s Enjoy Uphill Lincoln campaign, which highlighted the unique offer and high level of customer service given by independent businesses in uphill Lincoln.

“It’s great that this trail is something that every family member can have fun doing. It’s a real bonus that it is free and there’s a massive list of fabulous prizes waiting to be won.

“Thanks to the generosity of businesses in this area, they include gift vouchers for everything from pottery classes to antiques and collectables, books and artwork through to delicious lunches, afternoon teas to flowers, entertainment and sparkling drinks,” added Nicola.

Visit Lincoln Chief Executive Lydia Rusling said: “This fun seasonal trail is a natural follow-on from the success of the Enjoy Uphill Lincoln campaign, which encouraged businesses to work together to bring more people to shop in the Uphill area and discover Lincoln’s world-famous tourist attractions.

“This pumpkin trail ties in perfectly with our Lincoln Loves Kids project, which aims to get more families involved in a wide variety of local activities. It is really like a mini Lincoln Knights’ Trail for the Uphill part of the city, and we’re sure it’s going to be a real winner for Lincoln.”

I’ve gone off topic for today’s #Blogtober18 post but if you want to check out what movies other bloggers have watched a thousand times then just click on the #Blogtober18 image below – maybe there’ll be a few horror films lurking in the links!

#Blogtober18

 

Omne trium perfectum

#Blogtober18: Loving these right now

How could today’s #Blogtober18 prompt lead me to anything but the faces of these three?

Loving these three from way before they were born, right now and forever more.

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And I’m also still loving these photos taken by the fabulous Merika Green back in April at Moot Hall near Market Rasen in Lincolnshire as part of a portfolio update for Faith’s agency Zebedee Management.

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Undoubtedly skilled with a camera, she also managed to keep the three of them sat together happily – magic powers indeed!

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#Blogtober18