New book day!

AlansBigScaryTeethI learnt about the Bookstart scheme to give books to all children at certain ages before school “to help families read together every day and inspire children with a rewarding love of books” whilst writing a books page for our local newspaper long before having children.

So since having children, finding out what’s in their Bookstart packs has always been something I’ve been quite excited about.

Today Luke came home from nursery with his latest selection – Alan’s Big Scary Teeth by Jarvis (Walker Books).

Coincidentally, Willow has asked me several times during the day to draw her a crocodile so straight away it’s been a very fortuitous choice.

And, with its scares, secrets, surprises and self-discovery, it was a fun read too.

Alan comes from a long line of very scary alligators and loves being scary himself but the other jungle animals come to discover all is not what it seems and, with a little bit of support, Alan finds out that not only is he talented in more than just one way, he can also put his favourite skill to good use instead of bad.

Any story that gives my children the chance to practice their evil laughs, joining in with Alan’s “BWA-HA-HA!”, gets my vote and, having been asked to read it more than once this bedtime, it obviously gets theirs too.


Skellingthorpe May Day 3k 2017

Superheroes aplenty took their places at the starting line of the Skellingthorpe May Day 3k this morning.

Iron Man, several Spidermen and a Batman and Robin who were raising money for the Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance were among the runners to tackle the race held in Monson Playing Field.


Luke is a very enthusiastic runner and as a family we have taken part in the Lincoln Santa Fun Run twice and the Sports Relief Mile and I’ve been keeping a look out for any similar family friendly events.

3K ScheduleThe published schedule for the Skellingthorpe 3k seemed to suggest it would offer exactly the right atmosphere with it urging “If young children struggle to complete all 4 laps, don’t force them round – it’s a fun run after all!  All participants are entitled to their medal and goodies whatever distance they do”.

And the warmth of welcome and inclusivity projected by the organisers (the true superheroes of the day) were well rewarded as the participants ranged from the miniest of minis (3-month-old Faith came across a 5-month-old also taking on the course from the vantage point of a baby sling) to those competing to be the fastest under 5 all the way up to those who fit into the grander age categories.  All the younger competitors were allowed to choose some sweat bands and soon Luke was bedecked in a read headband and Willow in matching wristbands.

IMG_2038Luke and daddy got off to a speedy start but, despite competitive mummy’s eyes being on the under 5s’ prize, he also found other competitors and the water stations very interesting too as well as high-fiving stewards and stopping every now and then to make daddy say “ready, steady, run”.  He’d obviously read the notes that it was all about the taking part too.

IMG_2042Willow also made a very determined start and was very keen to keep up with those around her, her arms pumping as hard as her legs.  When she finally realised quite how far in front daddy and Luke were, however, she found it quite upsetting and completed her lap in mummy’s arms next to Faith in her sling.  Three people crossing the lap line on two legs garnered us a nice special mention from the lovely commentator followed by a more concerned “Are you all right mum?” at which point I assured him, off microphone, that we were headed off the track at that point.

Everyone loves a goody bag though don’t they and Willow’s good mood was soon restored when she discovered hers included not only a medal and wristband but also some biscuits and they fuelled her happy dancing whilst waiting for daddy and Luke at the finish line.

We’re definitely planning to be at the starting line again next year – perhaps we’ll even come as our super powered alter egos too!

D is for dragon egg

DragonEggHuntWe’ve hunted for eggs, we’ve hunted for rabbits and this weekend we hunted for… dragons’ eggs!

Heritage Lincolnshire hosted the event at Bolingbroke Castle yesterday and our own knight and princess were keen to explore the ruins to find the hidden eggs and their attached letter clues.

We enjoyed the event last year during the Easter period but this year the search was moved to be a highlight in the 650th birthday celebrations of King Henry IV, who was born at the castle.

Fortunately we found all the letter clues and were able to claim some sweet treats for the minis on completion of the anagram riddle.

Visitors to the ruins were also able to walk into the picturesque village where the Friends of Bolingbroke Castle had arranged refreshments, a craft fair, face painting, pony grooming, games such as hook a duck and small animal petting too.

Rather handily it’s letter d week at Luke’s nursery next week so d is, of course, for dragon egg!

For more information on the castle built in the early 13th century by Randulph de Blundeville, Earl of Chester and Lincoln, click here.

Hunting for wabbits

What better way to spend your Easter Monday than hunting for rabbits?!

Doddington Hall & Gardens, part of the Historic Houses Association, were hosting the Easter trail during their Cherry Blossom Fortnight and, as well as finding the 10 white rabbits and collecting their letters to solve the anagram, we also enjoyed playing skittles, croquet, egg and spoon races, hook a duck, skipping and exploring the gardens.

Do I think that’s the end of Easter hunts? No, of course not.  In lieu of chocolate, Willow has now started hiding toy cars to find.  And seeing as Luke and I are often still talking about Christmas there’s every possibility we might still be discussing Easter come Halloween…

Sunday Sevens #5

#SundaySevens is a blog series started by Natalie from Threads and Bobbins.  Here’s my fifth entry into the series looking at a few of the little things that have happened in the mini ones’ lives this week…

HowTimeFlies1. How Time Flies

Christopher Nibble wasn’t our only theatrical experience this week as I braved taking all the minis on my own to see How Time Flies at the Lincoln Drill Hall on Monday.  Billed as interactive, it was testament to how engaging the show was that both Luke and Willow were fully focused on the archaeologists’ investigations into ancient skeleton Skelebob’s possible origins and endings whilst I had to walk an unsettled Faith around at the back of the auditorium several times.  Eccentric characters, melodramatic speculation, interesting facts – did you know the largest fossilised poo ever found is seven inches of Viking excrement? – repetitive sing-along musical interludes, a camel that added to the toilet humour and the chance to move, touch, discover, build and be involved in the narrative meant that the minis weren’t the only ones fascinated by the unfolding mystery.  To find out where Handmade Theatre are taking Skelebob next click here.

ChickenHat22. Seasonal storytelling

Less ardent tractor fans who made it past the line of vintage agricultural vehicles quicker than we did at Countryside Lincs last week may have made it to one of Rhubarb Theatre’s interactive storytelling sessions.  Willow obviously knew she’d have a second chance to enjoy one of the company’s theatrical tales as we were booked in to Lindum Books’s monthly storytime on Tuesday.  In honour of the Easter holidays the session was based on The Little Red Hen and saw us decorating and donning flapping chicken hats which Willow was eager to share with daddy later that evening too.  We missed March’s interpretation of Jack and the Flumflum Tree as it was fully booked before we thought to enquire so don’t forget to give them a call to reserve your place if you’d like to take a mini one along in May.  To find out more about the uphill store’s calendar of events click here.

IMG_43933. Celebrity posing

Christopher Nibble wasn’t the only star that Willow was able to pose for the camera with this week.  Despite thinking we’d somehow managed to avoid the Frozen phenomenon we discovered a few weeks back that, whilst we haven’t seen the film all the way through, the minis have with their grandparents.  And Willow seemed to definitely know who Elsa and Anna were when they put in an appearance at Holly Tree soft play centre this weekend and was eager to skip to the front of the queue to get her photo taken with them.

4. Hard graft

Whilst most parents were planning egg hunts and Easter crafts for the bank holiday weekend, the minis’ parents took them to a workhouse instead!  Fortunately for them The Workhouse in Southwell is now a National Trust property and provides exploration and dressing-up opportunities for its visitors instead of hard labour.  And we can confirm that the tasty treats in the cafe are a lot more delicious than the original menu of gruel sounds too.

IMG_44115. Hill Holt Wood

We did have plans to go egg hunting as well though and braved today’s weather forecast to head to Hill Holt Wood to join in their organised search.  We’re going to put our lack of success down to following another group of searchers too closely rather than simply being completely inept at finding any.  Having accumulated a tally of zero, we took a “not ‘appy” Luke and his sisters into the craft room where Easter crowns were decorated and cake devoured in the adjoining cafe.  Luke and Willow were also very privileged to have the hard won chocolatey prizes of friends’ children shared with them (when Luke allowed it as he didn’t think he should take it at first as he hadn’t found an egg).  Refuelled we then took another quick turn around the woods and were well rewarded in racing the raindrops as this time Luke found an egg, now “‘appy” we were allowed to return to the car.  Apparently 100 eggs were originally placed around the woodland, I wonder how many they’re still looking for now!

6. Eggscellent explorers


Our home, very DIY, egg hunt was much more successful in volume though.  Whilst we had to relocate to indoors, Luke wasn’t satisfied with finding all the shiny-wrapped treats once.  Following their first quest, daddy and mummy were banished to the hall whilst he and Willow re-hid them all so we had to find them instead and then we all took turns to hide and find them over and over again for the next hour or so, albeit with a slightly decreasing supply each time.  It was very heart-warming that Luke, unprompted, was always keen to make sure Willow had as many in her basket as he did.  Although Willow had to be convinced that the prolonged search was a sensible plan of action at first.  She seemed to consider the find the chocolate, eat the chocolate way of playing the game more preferable but soon joined in enthusiastically too, remaining as excited at finding an egg in the same place for the tenth time as she was the first time.

7. Not just chocolate

Luke was given a mini bat signal as part of an Easter gift from grandmum.  Daddy and mummy may let him have his turn soon…


Everything’s dandy in Dandeville

IMG_4399If you’re looking for a role model to help expand your picky eater’s palate then at first glance Christopher Nibble isn’t your guinea pig.

He, along with his friends and family and all the guinea pigs in Dandeville, love eating dandelion leaves – for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  At least they’re eating their greens, right?

They love eating them so much that Topsy Turvy Theatre have turned their munching and crunching into a song as part of their stage adaptation of Charlotte Middleton’s story.

Performing at the Terry O’Toole Theatre in North Hykeham today, the company combined cute puppets with musical numbers and an engaging narrative, along with the chance to join in a rain dance, to reenact the horticultural tale.

As well as enjoying a side lesson in the economics of demand and supply, the audience took a trip to the library with the curious cavy and learnt how to cultivate dandelions to ensure they didn’t disappear from the town – but they did also learn that eating a range of food was a good idea along the way too.

Click on the poster to find out where Topsy Turvy Theatre are taking Christopher next.

Luke liked Mr Rosetti the cafe owner and the farmer trying to sell his cabbages, they both enthusiastically joined in the rain (and get dry) dance and Willow was very excited by the paper dandelion seeds released over the young audience memebers’ heads near the end.

We’ve long been fans of the tale of dandelion derring-do but didn’t realise there were sequels and, whilst Luke and Willow enjoyed a post-show meeting with the furry star, we added Christopher’s Bicycle and Christopher’s Caterpillars to their bedtime reading pile – signed copies too!

And just in case you can’t remember what you have to do – just pick your dandelion’s white head of seeds and 1, 2, 3… blow!

To keep up to date with the Terry O’Toole Theatre’s children’s theatre shows click here.

Topsy Turvy Theatre’s Christopher Nibble

ChristopherNibbleIf you’ve already had your fill of fluffy bunnies and cute chicks this Easter then why not try to turn your children’s attention to guinea pigs instead?

Topsy Turvy Theatre are proudly presenting Christopher Nibble at the Terry O’Toole Theatre in North Hykeham on Saturday, April 15th, at 3pm.

The musical play for children aged 2-7 is adapted from the book by Charlotte Middleton and follows the story of the dandelion-loving cavy as he learns how to save the delicious delicacy from disappearing.

Add in energetic storytelling, handmade puppets and stunning scenery and Christopher Nibble’s tale of derring-do is sure to be as uplifting as any chocolate-fuelled sugar rush in your children’s Easter break.

Click here to find out more about the show. There is also a BEE A Garden Super Hero family workshop at the venue at 1pm celebrating National Garden Week.

Call the theatre on 01522 883311.