The Wandering Mother Blog | The Big Splash Circus Book Review

Book Review: Big Splash Circus by Karina Choudhrie

There’s no surprise – we love reading a new book. My children’s school teacher may argue otherwise as I never seem to read the school books with the kiddos (I do, but it’s sporadic) but they love getting a brand new book to read. The kids have a good collection but there’s always room for more!

I’ve been away from the blog for a little while since my last post as I’ve developed eye strain and pressure building up behind the eyes. Sitting at the computer and blogging using the phone have not been easy on my eyes. I’ve been to the opticians and my prescription’s changed a lot since my last check up so I’ll be getting new glasses. A couple weeks ago, we were sent a delightful children’s book called ‘Big Splash Circus’ written by Karina Choudhrie. I’ve read it a few times with the kids and Little Man’s read it himself once too. Both of them have enjoyed the story book in their own ways.

Continue reading “Book Review: Big Splash Circus by Karina Choudhrie”

Review: Fluffy handmade slippers by Onaie keeping my toes toasty this Christmas

I don’t know if it’s just me but I’m really feeling these winter chills this year! As the days get darker, all I want to do is curl up in bed with a heavy fur throw, a hot chocolate and a good book.

It was a couple weeks ago was when I first felt the cold settle in. We live in a new build flat so pretty much it’s always warm but lately it’s been feeling really cold! I’ve definitely stocked up on my fair share of knit jumpers and joggers and fluffy throws and socks to keep me warm.

Continue reading “Review: Fluffy handmade slippers by Onaie keeping my toes toasty this Christmas”

Review: Jaques of London educational toys

I adore wooden toys. There’s just something so lovely and magical about them. They’re also durable, sturdy and have a wonderful texture compared to plastic toys.

I just can’t believe how fast this year has gone by. It’s almost Christmas already! Three lockdowns later and we can finally get the chance to have a proper Christmas dinner with the rest of our family. We’ve just ordered a new dining table so we’re definitely going all out this December.

Continue reading “Review: Jaques of London educational toys”

Top 5 ways on how to get your children excited about reading: Roald Dahl X Beanstalk

I remember when Little Man was a baby, I would read to him every night before bedtime. I am sure that from this, he had developed his love for books. Fast forward 7 years and he’s now a little more reluctant to just pick up a book and read. That is partly my own fault for letting him loose on electronics too soon! He’s just really into building his own Lego monster creations or spawning a new animal encounter on Minecraft, which isn’t bad but I do need to increase his screen-free time.

Continue reading “Top 5 ways on how to get your children excited about reading: Roald Dahl X Beanstalk”
The Wandering Mother Blog | WellBox Entice Hamper Food Gift Review

Review: WellBox Entice Hamper and Food Gift Boxes

Spring is here and summer is just around the corner. I’m loving the slightly warmer weather we’ve been experiencing in London this week however I know it’s not going to last. I’m sure there will be forecasted rain by the end of the week or so.

Last week I’ve been keeping myself and the kids busy, especially as it’s still the Easter holidays and I really want to make it the most for the kids. I’ll be off furlough and back at work next month and as I work weekends, I’m afraid that I won’t be able to spend as much quality time with them then so I’m doing my best to now.

WellBox Hampers & Food Gift Boxes

Last week I was contacted by WellBox who wanted me to review one of their most popular food gift boxes. Of course I accepted – anything in the name of food! 🙂 I was kindly sent the Entice hamper to try out and boy was I in for a nice surprise! As I don’t drink alcohol I asked for a non-alcoholic option to review and here’s what I got….

On arrival: I was SO looking forward to opening this bad boy!

A selection of 11 delicious snacks and sweets

Yep! 11 delicious, tasty, fantastic snacks and sweets. My favourites have to be the dark chocolate orange honeycomb bites – man they’re good! Then it’d have to be the olives (I love olives!) and the crunchy corn snack. The snacking cheese bites are fantastic but they’re definitely strong so if you’re not a big fan of cheese… you’re not going to love them. Just telling you now.

A list of everything that came in my food gift box is below.

Serene Inspirational Affirmation Card

This is one of the sweetest things I’ve ever received in a food hamper. You can sometimes forget about yourself in the midst of things and these little affirmation pick-me-ups seem like just the things you need to read or see.

1 meal donated to a local person in need through our charity partners

Another reason to love these WellBox food gifts hampers is because they are giving back to the community – your local community to be exact. With every box purchased, the company donates a hot meal or meal provision to someone in need from your local area with the help of Barnabus Manchester. You can learn more about this on their website.

Snacks, oh glorious snacks!

It really is a gift that keeps on giving – or at least – gives back. For anyone in need of corporate gifting ideas, this is the one you ought to be adding to your list. After receiving mine, I would be more than ecstatic if my employer sent me a hamper!

Personalised Printed Message from you or your company to the recipient (one message per order)

Alongside a personalised printed message, you should also get a little loyalty card that says to upload a photo of your box on social media, to get a special 20% discount off your next order… that got my attention for sure and of course I uploaded a photo!

There are a few friend and family member’s birthdays coming up so I will be kindly taking up that offer. 🙂

Free UK Delivery to your office, or your team member’s home address

Alongside free delivery which is a no-brainer, you can make also one order and send to multiple addresses. Choose from entering the addresses yourself onto their secure site or you can choose to send an email link to your recipients and they can complete their address directly to cut out the faff.

Review: WellBox Entice Food Hamper

The WellBox Entice hamper has a wonderfully curated selection of sweets and savoury snacks as well as a lovely bottle of something bubbly, whether that’s with or without the alcohol.

It’s definitely a gift box for sharing so I naturally shared mine with the kids. The weather hadn’t been on our side (plus we couldn’t wait any longer) so we decided to have a home picnic and sample all of our delicious snacks and treats!

All the snacks were well packed and the drink came in its own special blow-up bottle case to make sure it didn’t smash during transit. Very thoughtful indeed!


Affirmation of the Day!

I also got this lovely motivational affirmation card in the WellBox hamper. It was super sweet. I think these affirmation cards would be greatly appreciated if this food gift box was given for employee appreciation as well as for friends and family.

Inside our box of goodies…

  • Belvoir Sparkling Elderflower & Rose Pressé (non-alcoholic option)
  • Candy Kittens Gourmet Blueberry Bliss Sharing Pack
  • Vita Vigor Sesame Breadsticks
  • Mighty Fine Honeycomb Bites in Dark Chocolate Orange
  • Buttermilk Cornish Fudge in Strawberry Bellini
  • I Love Snacks Mixed Roasted Nuts
  • I Love Snacks Italian Olives
  • Serious Baked Snacking Cheese
  • Nudie Snacks Premium Toasted Coconut Chips
  • Lovecorn Sharing Pack

With vegan, halal, gluten-free and non-alcoholic options available, there really is a box to suit everyone.

Supporting Small and Local Businesses

WellBox are an events and staff gifting company from Manchester, UK. The charity they work with, Barnabus Manchester is also from the UK. Even though corporate gifting is their main focus, they allow single-box orders so you really can just order the one. If you have friends and family with similar bdays you can order both to be delivered on the same day or schedule for different days. Snazzy or what?!

Whenever I can, I try to make the change and support small and local businesses. It’s nicer and you feel like you’ve actually helped someone else out by investing in their business. I have many friends who have started up their own small businesses and am so proud of them all. Being a small business owner is no mean feat especially during these tricky times of covid.

The Wandering Mother Blog | WellBox Entice Hamper Food Gift Review
Cheers! Little Miss and I enjoying our glass of bubbly elderflower and rose

If the photo of Little Miss above hasn’t already made you take a look at the gift hampers, I would definitely recommend you to check it out. Especially their wellness boxes, you get goodies as well as snacks which is pretty cool and there’s even a curated box for men… perfect for the Father’s Day that’s coming up soon hint hint!


NB. We were kindly sent the Entice hamper box by WellBox to sample in collaboration for a product review on the blog. All photos, words, opinions and content are my own and must not be reused without my consent.

The Wandering Mother - Family Lifestyle Blog

Review: Sing My Name Personalised Kids’ Alarm Clock

Waking up in the mornings – especially during the winter season – can be really challenging for both adults and children. Those cold, dark mornings make you just want to lie in bed for a few minutes longer, don’t they? If you have little ones that struggle with morning wakeups, it might be a good idea to look into getting an alarm clock if you don’t already have one. In our household, I would usually wake up the kids around 30mins after I get up. This is so I can get things like their uniforms, backpacks and breakfast prepared first. It helps to save a little bit of time but some days, I’m there standing at their bedside trying to physically drag them out of bed.

We were lucky enough to be sent two Sing My Name personalised kids’ alarm clocks. The kids were so excited that they had one each and couldn’t wait to give it a try the next morning…

The Wandering Mother - Family Lifestyle Blog
Let your child wake up to the sound of their own name sung back to them with Sing My Name’s personalised alarm clock

Sing My Name Personalised Alarm Clock Review

The Sing My Name Personalised Kids’ Alarm Clock comes in four colours but a few of the colours have two designs so there’s a good variety to choose from. They are analog clocks which can encourage children to learn how to tell the time, something my Little Man still struggles with as everything we have to tell the time with is digital so for us, this is warmly welcomed. The clock requires three AA batteries – we buy our multipacks from Poundland which saves us money. There’s a snooze button by the alarm bells and an off-off switch at the back of the clock allowing you to turn it off easily when needed.

Key Features:

  • Personalised name sang to them when the alarm rings
  • Snooze button (which also functions as a demo button – so handy!)
  • On-off switch button at the back of the clock
  • Volume button so you can adjust how loud or quiet you want the alarm to be
  • Battery operated
  • Soundless seconds hand, no loud tick-tocking thanks to the silent ‘sweep’ mechanism
  • Glow in the dark minutes/hours hand
  • Reprogramming the sound of the alarm with your own music as many times as you want

These popular personalised kids’ clocks are sold at the infamous Hamleys toy store but due to current lockdown restrictions, the best way to get your hands on one of these is to order online. When ordering on the Sing My Name website, you’ll need to enter in the child’s name and there’s a sample play button so you can hear how the name will sound when the alarm rings. It’s inserted into a fun and lively wake-up song which is sweet however if the alarm music starts to get on your nerves you can easily change it to their favourite song by reprogramming it (MP3 format) as many times as you want.

When entering your child’s name, if the name is not recognised, don’t worry as they team will record it especially for you. There’s also an entry box for pronunciation which is great if your child’s name could be mis-pronounced. Talk about excellent service!

The Wandering Mother | UK Family Lifestyle Blog
We are loving these cool and quirky kids alarm clocks!

Little Miss loves her pink clock and Little Man loves his blue clock – they really do make lovely personalised gifts for kids. These clocks could also make great Christmas gifts for kids if you’re stuck on ideas on what to buy. If you prefer gender-neutral colours instead of ones that are associated as ‘girls alarm clocks’ or ‘boys alarm clocks’ there’s orange and purple options to choose from too.

I wasn’t really sure of where to put the kids’ alarm clocks because my little ones don’t have a beside table. The clocks are compact enough to be placed on a shelf or window ledge so that helps. The glow in the dark clock hands might come in handy at night for you if you have older children – not so much for me right now as mine are still learning the time but it’s definitely a a helpful feature for time-training. Also the clock’s seconds hand runs so smoothly (thanks to the clever sweeping mechanism), you can’t hear it ticking at all. You might even decide to use the clock as a sleep trainer which would be really effective for waking up during darker mornings.

These clocks have really put a smile on my little ones’ faces and I’m so glad they’ve enjoyed them. Next step will be to add their own music to the alarm as my little monsters don’t seem to always wake up to the sound of their own name! LOL

For the full collection and more about Sing My Name alarm clocks, hit the ‘find out more’ button below:

The Wandering Mother Blog - GlowArt LED Drawing Board Review

Review: GlowArt Kids’ LED Light Up Drawing Board

Christmas is coming! 

I am counting down the weeks already! It’s the only time of the year that I really plan for – the Christmas dinner, the tree, the colour scheme for the tree decorations… everything! There’s something really magical about the festive season and I love it. We need all the magic, hope and feel-good feeling we can get after the year we’ve had. 🙂 I’ve also been lucky enough to review a view products this month, starting off with festive duvet sets to this, a super fun light-up drawing board for kids.

Review: GlowArt LED drawing board

Looking through a Smyth catalogue for Christmas presents has started to take its toll on me with the endless toys in there. Most days, the kids sit down after school, flicking through the catalogue and saying “I want that one” for at least 15 minutes or until they’re halfway through the thing… and it’s not a small booklet either!

I was kindly sent this GlowArt Light Up Kids’ Drawing Board last week to try out and review on the blog. It’s taken me a while to get round to posting this as I didn’t realise the thing needed a set of batteries and kept forgetting to buy them each time I went out to the store. Then with lockdown closing most shops but not essentials, I was able to still pop into Poundland and pick up a good amount of batteries. Once I’d put them into the GlowArt board, the kids were having a field day playing around with the LED lights.

It also got them off my back for a few hours each day so a win-win so far!

I would describe the GlowArt Light Up Drawing Board for kids as an educational toy. It helps to stimulate their brains and encourage creativity through drawing and mark-making. The board also helps improve hand/eye co-ordination and focus, as the children are concentrating on what they’re creating. It can also be a great tool for tracing (use it as a tracing board) or for sensory play as you can change the colours and make them rapidly flash, slowly pulse or stay fixed… it’s a pretty cool gadget.

The Wandering Mother Blog - GLOWART drawing board review

The Wandering Mother Blog - GLOWART drawing board review
GlowArt board glows red
The Wandering Mother Blog - Review: GlowArt kids light up drawing board
Little Miss enjoys tracing her LOL doll using her light up board
The Wandering Mother Blog - GLOWART drawing board review

What’s included with the GlowArt Kids’ Drawing Board?

This neat little gadget will provide your little ones with hours of fun. The LED drawing board for comes with the following:

  • LED light-up drawing board in your colour choice (black or pink)
  • Four fluorescent coloured marker pens
  • Built-in stand for displaying your drawing board artwork
  • Instructions on how to use and look after the drawing board

Batteries are not included – you’ll need x3 AA batteries to power this baby up but it can still be used as a great tracing board without batteres.

We used it as a night-light once, which was fun, but it drained the battery quite a bit so we won’t be doing that again LOL. However, if you can get your hands on rechargeable batteries then it’s not a bad idea. It lit up their bedroom really well and the LED really show off their artwork in a colourful way thanks to the fluorescent markers.

This kids drawing board would make a great Christmas gift so if you’re shopping around, take a look at it. It’s perfect for children who are creative or love mark-making but the parents are not keen on the mess. Or for parents who are looking for sensory toys, the GlowArt drawing board for kids would make a great present. The GlowArt Light Up Kids’ Drawing Board is available to buy on their website as well as Amazon however, as they’re a small business I’d recommend buying early on the official website. Amazon can take a big commission cut for sellers and suppliers who list on their site which is really cheeky as they are making loads of money. One can argue that things are cheaper on Amazon than official sites however think about saving the small businesses this Christmas. With the ongoing pandemic, we should try to buy local as much as possible to keep the companies open and operating.

 


NB. We were kindly sent the Glow Art LED drawing boards in exchange for this unbiased product review. All opinions, photos and content are my own and should not be used without my permission.

The Wandering Mother - Family Lifestyle Blog

Review: Bloomsbury Mill Winter Wonderland Duvet Set

Bring on the festive season!

Can you believe it’s only SIX WEEKS UNTIL CHRISTMAS

2020 has come and (almost) gone as quickly as a blink of an eye… and despite the country going back into lockdown, I feel that businesses have been able to handle things a little better this time around. There are more shops that are classed as ‘essential businesses’ which is fantastic as it means we can still get on with our daily lives and for those that aren’t classed as essential shops can still provide delivery and click & collect services which is great news.

We all also need to be smarter with our money. I don’t know about you, but with all the retail shops closed I find that I am e-window shopping online A LOT more frequently than I would visit a store. I’m also sure that I’m spending more so I’m using a few apps to help me budget a little better and stay on track with the spending. When I was asked if I’d like to review a new Christmas bedding range, I jumped at the chance and said yes. We were lucky enough to try out the single Winter Wonderland duvet sets from Bloomsbury Mill and here’s what we thought of them…

Bloomsbury Mill Winter Wonderland Duvet Set 

THE DESIGN

The Winter Wonderland single duvet set by Bloomsbury Mill has a playful look – the colours are very bright and the festive design is really cute! I think it’s great for children of all ages, especially younger kids. Little Man is 7yrs and Little Miss is 4yrs and they were squealing for joy when they came home from school to see their new Christmassy duvets.

The single duvet set size meets the textile regulations and with safety in mind, that keeps me happy. The single-sized covers fit their duvets perfectly but the pillowcases were slightly larger than the actual pillows. This isn’t a problem for us because our pillows are very flat so for fluffier pillows, the cases will fit snugly. That said, I stuffed Little Man’s pillowcase with two flat pillows and it bulked out the pillowcase perfectly. We’ve also started using our winter tog duvets but the kids don’t seem to get hot and sweaty with these covers which is a bonus. That tends to happen sometimes if the polyester percentage is higher as it’s not as breathable as cotton.

The Wandering Mother - Family Lifestyle Blog
The white duvet covers complement the kids room perfectly

If you prefer to have neutral or white bedding then adding a little touch of Christmas to the room by picking a duvet set like this one might be ideal. The duvet set is available in three sizes; cotbed, single and double which means the whole family can have matching sets. The festive print runs true on both sides of the pillowcase and cover so you don’t have to worry about which side up your covers need to go. It would’ve been nice to see this duvet set been made as a reversible print as a lot of other brands are offering that but it’s no problem. Sometimes I prefer to have a continuous pattern than a different on each side.

Bloomsbury Mill have a wide range of duvet designs (animals, unicorns, dinosaurs to name a few) to choose from so have a look on their website. It’s recommended to wash the duvet set at 40°c degrees which is perfect as the majority of our wash load gets done on 40°c (only pure whites at 60°c) so that’s also economical for us too. Yay!

THE MATERIAL

The polycotton material (52% polyester, 48% cotton) makes it easy to wash and is incredibly soft. I was slightly dubious at first as I rarely let the kids use anything less than 50% cotton but they said they really liked the material and slept well in them at night. Most easycare bedding have similar polycotton mix ratios but the cotton percentage is higher and still aren’t always as soft as these duvet covers.

I’m not a fan of the crisp cotton feel and much prefer a smoother, softer feel. We have duvet covers from Asda which have the SAME polycotton mix as these Bloomsbury Mill covers and I can tell you, the latter feels much better and doesn’t irritate mine or the children’s skin.

If you only sleep in 100% cotton sheets then you might want to give these covers a miss but if you do like easycare duvet covers and not too fussed about the polycotton percentage then definitely give them a try. It’s a really good price for what you get and the quality and feel is great.

The Wandering Mother - Family Lifestyle Blog

THE PRICE

The duvet set is good value – a single duvet set for £14.99 is decently priced especially for Christmas bedding. There are cheaper easycare bedding out there but whether I’d rather buy those sets to these ones? Probably not.

Like most good quality things, if the price is too good to be true, it probably is. We all have to compromise on things – price and/or quality included. When it comes to bedding, you want it to last and stand the test of time, it needs to be durable. It’s too early to tell how long these Winter Wonderland covers will last but I think they will do quite well and we’ll definitely be getting a lot more wear out of them than the other easycare sets I’ve bought in the past (they’re still sitting in storage). The quality feel of these sheets outweigh the cost. I’ve been looking at other easycare polycotton duvet sets and even though the designs look great, I’m sceptical of the quality in comparison to the Winter Wonderland duvets.

The website also offers KLARNA payments which makes things more affordable as you can choose to spread the cost of your order in three even monthly payments or pay the total amount a month later. It’s subject to a soft credit check so not everyone can apply for KLARNA but the option is there if it’s available to you. Of course, there’s the standard payment option via debit/credit card and Paypal.

The Wandering Mother - Family Lifestyle Blog

Our Verdict?

WE LOVE IT! 🙂 We really love the fun and colourful design and the kids have said the material is soft and very comfy to sleep in. The various duvet sizes also means that our whole family can have matching set if we wanted to!

The quality is good. The price is decent. The payment options are work for us. What’s not to like? There’s also 10% off your first order if you sign up to their newsletters via the website.

About Bloomsbury Mill
Experts in textiles, Bloomsbury Mill aims to constantly produce beautiful, vibrant, easy-care bedlinen that you and your family will love. Fun, comfortable and practical, all of their items are manufactured to textile regulations and with quality in mind.

The company has also been nominated and shortlisted for the Mother & Baby Awards 2021.

P I N  T H I S  P O S T

The Wandering Mother - Family Lifestyle Blog


NB. We were kindly sent complimentary duvet sets in exchange for this unbiased blog review. All words, photos and content are my own and should not be used without my permission.

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | The Rug Bear Picture Book Review

Review: Settling down for bedtime with The Rug Bear (children’s picture book)

If you go down in the woods today,
you’re sure of a big surprise…

We love having a teddy bear’s picnic. It’s something I’ve loved doing with Little Man since he was a toddler. We’d get out the tea set, invite our favourite stuffies along for tea, read a book and have some good ‘mum & son’ time. It was also a good way to get the conversation going as my little dude rarely spoke much about his day or how he was feeling so it was always nice to hear him opening up over some tea. 🙂 Now, we share this experience with his little sister and this week, we took our teddy bear’s picnic onto the balcony with our stuffies and their cousin, Lils.

It became the perfect opportunity for us to enjoy our new children’s picture book, The Rug Bear.

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | The Rug Bear Picture Book Review

The Rug Bear children's book review | The Greenwich Mummy Blog
Teddy Bear’s picnic on the balcony

The Rug Bear book by Emma Rattray

This sweet and charming children’s story is about a bear who plays a game of hide and seek with his friends, Lion and Fox. But after all that fun and playing with his friends, Bear started to get very tired from all the fun and decides to take a nap beside a tree. As Bear sleeps deeply, along passes a mouse then a hare, then a squirrel and then a ladybird. All of them mistaken Bear for a comfy rug to rest upon from their long travels. As they all start to settle down, Bear wakes up and gives them all a fright as they tumble off his back. The gentle bear reassures them that he is actually a friendly bear and didn’t mean to scare them.

“Oh dear”, said Bear.
“Did I give you a fright?
I might be a bear but I really don’t bite.”

Bedtime with Bear and his friends…

A couple days after we read The Rug Bear book at our teddy bear picnic, we read it as a bedtime story. The kids were so excited to read it again that they didn’t want to go to bed without it. First, I read it to Little Miss and then she told the story back to me in her own way using the pictures in the book. As she can’t read yet I encourage her to tell the story this way so she can get the gist of the story as well as pick up on the main themes and concepts around what the story is about.

Then Little Man read the story to me (yes, I get to have a bedtime story too!) and he read it so beautifully. I saw the little smile on his face when he finished reading and asked him if he liked the story, he said yes. I asked him to tell me what he thought about the story and why, to which he replied, “I thought it was caring and funny – caring because all the animals were caring towards Bear, and funny because they thought Bear was a rug!” 🙂 I also asked Little Miss what she thought about the story and she mentioned that bears love eating honey. 

The Rug Bear children's book review | The Greenwich Mummy Blog

The illustrations by Michael Terry are beautiful. The vibrant coloured pages are enough to attract the attention span of toddlers and pre-schoolers, whilst the detailed drawings are realistic enough for older kids to relate with and enjoy. The reading language is simple enough for primary school-aged children to understand and read aloud, which it would also make a great home-schooling reading resource, as well as a bedtime story.

Even though the book is aimed at kids aged 0-5 years, I think it has potential to appeal to all ages, both big and small especially when it comes to bedtime stories. My son really loves it and he is seven!

We will be reading this book for the next few nights as part of our bedtime routine as the kids really enjoy it. It’s also made it onto our bedtime story shelf so we will definitely revisit it again in the near future. Perhaps, we might even try reading the story through just the pictures like Little Miss did and tell our own versions of the story. 

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | The Rug Bear Picture Book Review
Th Rug Bear by Emma Rattray / Credit: Cameron PM

Q&A time with Emma Rattray

I had the lucky opportunity to interview The Rug Bear author, Emma Rattray about her inspirations behind the book, tips for parents on encouraging outdoor play, and what she’s up to next in her writing career…

Q. What inspired you to write The Rug Bear?

A. I don’t know where the idea for The Rug Bear came from, I hadn’t visited a zoo or anything like that! I had been working on something else which really wasn’t going anywhere when the idea of a bear falling asleep in a wood and being mistaken for a rug suddenly came into my head.

Q. You grew up enjoying the outdoors a lot – climbing trees, swimming in rivers, playing with white rabbits. How do you think parents can encourage their children to play more outdoors?

A. It’s not always easy for parents to encourage their children to play outside. Pets are a good idea but not everybody has a garden or outside area. There are parks though and most children like picnics: teddy bear picnics for young children and for older ones a picnic with small prizes, or points/praise for finding things in the park. Once there, children may find other games to play.

Reading books, that are set outside and involve animals, birds, flowers and trees, promote a relationship with the natural world and hopefully make children want to embrace it.

Q. The Rug Bear is your first book, will you be writing more stories about Bear’s adventures? What other ideas do you have in the pipeline that you can tell us about?

A. My next book is about a little boy called Johnny who goes to Treasure Island, but maybe Bear with all his friends might meet again in the pages of another book!

Definitely sounds like we are in for a treat with Emma’s next book lined up and some fantastic ideas on how to encourage outdoor play with children. We love a good nature/park scavenger hunt and it’s something I plan on doing regularly. I’ve never thought about the prizes element so that’s added onto my list now too. The Rug Bear is available in paperback and as an e-book at all good bookshops and online retailers including Blackwell’s, Wordery, Waterstones, and Amazon UK (also available on Kindle).

The Greenwich Mummy | Family Travel & Lifestyle Blog

About Emma Rattray

Born and brought up in rural Scotland and the west coast of Ireland, as a child Emma spent a lot of time playing outdoors. Fast forward a few years, she became a journalist-turned-features writer for Tatler magazine.

She now lives in Perthshire with ehr husband and children. The Rug Bear is her first debut children’s picture book.


NB. We were kindly gifted The Rug Bear book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All words, photos and content are my own and should not be reused without permission. The book cover and author’s photo are credited to Cameron PM respectively.

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | ROH Alice's Adventure Underground review

Theatre Review: Alice’s Adventures Under Ground at the Royal Opera House

I wish I could tell you half
of the things. Alice used to say,
beginning with her favourite phrase
‘Let’s pretend.

– Through the Looking-Glass, ch.1 ‘Looking-Glass House’

How can I sum up the ROH performance of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground? It was like a whirlwind of CRAZY! Just like Alice falling down the dizzying rabbit hole, the performance was a spiralling sensation. I really did not expect the performance to turn out the way it did, but am so happy I got to watch it.

I was invited to attend the press evening performance (Feb 4) with Little Man but unfortunately he was ill that week so I took Little Miss along with me instead. I wasn’t sure what to expect as she is only turning four so I thought it might be a little overwhelming for her but surprisingly she lasted well. You could hear the animated voices of other children in the auditorium who seemed to love it. What’s not to like about a chaotic performance from giant ‘eat me’ cakes, blue ‘drink me’ bottles, four giant crying baby heads and Humpty Dumpty?

We arrived slightly later than planned and the queue to collect tickets was much longer than expected – I was unfortunately not in the right queue! How was I to know?! LOL We made it to our seats in the auditorium stalls (row L) which had great views of the stage. We took a few selfies before settling down for the performance to start.

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | ROH Alice's Adventures Underground
©ROH 2020. Photo by Clive Barda / Lewis Carroll Cast featuring Claudia Boyle as Alice

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | ROH Alice's Adventure Underground review
©ROH 2020. Photo by Clive Barda / Lewis Carroll Cast featuring Claudia Boyle as Alice

My thoughts on Alice’s Adventures Under Ground

This opera is unlike any other; it breaks all the rules. Singers are pushed to the extremes with their vocal ranges (hitting over 30 top ‘C’ notes in the first five minutes of the performance!), Jabberwocky sung in English, Russian and German, and Humpty Dumpty recounts his tragic tale to a rendition of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy… all thanks to Gerald Barry and his clever mish-mash of Alice in wonderland and Alice through the looking-glass.

The Cast
Alice: Claudia Boyle
The Red Queen: Clare Presland
The White Queen: Hilary Summers
The White Rabbit: Sam Furness
The March Hare: Peter Tantsits
The Cheshire Cat: Mark Stone
Humpty Dumpty : Joshua Bloom

All of the cast above also played various other roles.

A big well done to the cast for their vibrant performance. The fifty-five minute show was a little too short for my liking but at the same time, it was just the right amount of time for families with younger children to enjoy. I really enjoyed it but for Little Miss, she just didn’t get it which was disappointing. I guess it was just too much going on at one time for her. It was her first time watching an opera performance and I’m sure if it was Little Man, he’d probably would’ve thought the same thing. However for him, he’d be able to get by from reading the surtitles – that’s what he did when we went to watch The Lost Thing.

There were also moments that made me burst into laughter. My favourite scene was after Alice went through the looking glass and witnessed the battle between the red knight and white knight. It was hilarious watching the two duelling then falling off their horses, only to apologetically help each other get back on to battle again. Little Miss’ favourite (and recognisable scene) Alice falling d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-down the endless rabbit hole that even she had to catch her breath before meeting the rabbit and the four ‘eat me’ cakes. The four baby heads which represented the four bottles totally threw us both off which was quite funny very weird! I really don’t remember that scene from Alice in Wonderland at all!

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | ROH Alice's Adventure Underground review
©ROH 2020. Photo by Clive Barda / Lewis Carroll Cast featuring Claudia Boyle as Alice

Beware the Jabberwock, my son
The jaws that bit, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | ROH Alice's Adventure Underground review
©ROH 2020. Photo by Clive Barda / Lewis Carroll Cast featuring Claudia Boyle as Alice

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | ROH Alice's Adventure Underground review
©ROH 2020 – Photo by Clive Barda / Lewis Carroll Cast featuring Claudia Boyle as Alice

“When Alice tumbles down into the Rabbit Hole into Wonderland… she meets a successions of strange characters in unusual situations… Following the trial of the Knave of Hearts – accused of stealing the Queen’s tarts – Alice finds herself in Looking Glass Land…
Here, Alice becomes a Queen herself.”

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | ROH Alice's Adventure Underground review
©ROH 2020 – Photo by Clive Barda / Lewis Carroll Cast featuring Claudia Boyle as Alice

The story is told in a most peculiar yet enchanting way. Lewis Carroll would’ve been appreciative of this wonderful approach. There’s singing, shouting, speaking, growling and squealing alongside the orchestra accompaniment. With two performances a night for 6 nights, it’s pretty intense. The show itself was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it type of performance. It’s fast, it’s wild and it’s fantastic. If you missed it (it went by as quickly as its performance dates) then I hope the Royal Opera House will put this opera on again next year.

It’s definitely one not to be missed. 🙂

For a more formal take on the show, you can check out British Theatre Guide’s review from Vera Liber who I met at the last ROH performance I’d attended. Unfortunately I didn’t bump into her that night but if she’s reading this, I send my love and warm greetings!

More on the show here: http://bit.ly/ROHaliceadventures


NB. We were kindly gifted tickets to the performance in exchange for this blog review. All words, opinions and content are my own. ©ROH 2020 copyright photos that were provided to me by the Royal Opera House have been credited respectively. 

The Greenwich Mummy Blog - How to decorate your home according to your horoscope

Decor: How to decorate your home according to your horoscope

2020 is just around the corner!

How quickly has the year gone by?!

This time is also the time when most people find the need to redecorate their home and that’s totally me. New year, new home right?! 🙂 Decorating the home can be really difficult, but have no fear because I’ve got something pretty exciting to help you out.

I’m quite a spiritual person and believe that a positive-energy in the home home can have a positive impact on my daily living. Everybody knows a cluttered home can lead to a cluttered mind and de-cluttering can be quite therapeutic, it can also have good effect on your mental well-being. I’m naturally a hoarder so regular de-cluttering is definitely high on my list but that doesn’t mean I always manage to get round to doing it. Instead I usually save the big de-cluttering for spring (hence, spring cleaning) and for the new year.

In Chinese culture, it’s considered to be a good omen to do a thorough deep-clean and de-cluttering the week before Chinese New Year.

Decorating your home according to your horoscope…

Wayfair UK have teamed up with expert astrologers, Francesca Oddie and Sally Kirkman to create a guide on how to decorate your home based on your horoscope. If you don’t know which star sign you are, just look for your birthday next to the horoscope name. Luckily for our household, we’re pretty much the same. Little Man and I are both Leos, Daddy P and Little Miss are both Taurus. Cool right? Even weirder, Little Man was born the day after my birthday and Little Miss’s due date was a day after Daddy P’s birthday.

Here’s a great little infographic that they have created to help us out:

The Greenwich Mummy Blog - How to decorate your home according to your horoscope


Decorate like a LEO (Jul 23-Aug 22)

For Leos, the astrologers say;

For a Leo, your home is your castle and nothing says ‘let it reign’ like a huge fireplace located in the beating heart of your home – the living room. A fire sign who loves a good social gathering, your home is adorned with bright colours: orange, red and plum, and accented with a few gold accessories like frames, cushions and lighting. For those who are Leo-born, there’s no such thing as too much animal print, so make 2020 your year to go wild and lay down that leopard print rug you’ve been pining for.

… very interesting!

I definitely agree with the gold. I love gold accessories! I’m not sure I 100% agree on ‘there’s no such thing as too much animal print’ but I do like the odd leopard print or peacock print. I prefer textures than print so a beautiful fluffy or shaggy rug would be amazing but I think an animal print rug might be too much for my taste. I think I’d prefer adding small touches of animal prints and figurines instead. Animal wood carvings and metal ornaments of elephants, giraffes and lions always looks great and a statement animal print cushion would jazz up the sofa nicely.

The Greenwich Mummy Blog - How to decorate your home according to your horoscope
My animal print & gold accessories list

  1. Roda Feline Cushion by World Menagerie
  2. Gonzalez 3 Piece Giraffe Statue Set by Alpen Home
  3. Cervantez Lion Figurine by Rosdorf Park
  4. Mahoney Elephant Metal Strape Trunk Up Figurine by Happy Larry
  5. Ouled Africa Cheetah Cushion Cover by World Menagerie

As for a big central fireplace in the living room, that would be amazing but I live in a new build so a fireplace would be a dream. Perhaps I could go for an electric one – we could have it fitted where the radiator is currently placed. That’s up against our living room feature wall so might work well.

The Greenwich Mummy Blog - How to decorate your home according to your horoscope
I have to admit this leopard print rug is pretty cool! / image: Wayfair UK

The Greenwich Mummy Blog - How to decorate your home according to your horoscope
‘Let it reign’ with a feature fireplace / image: Wayfair UK

 


Decorate like a TAURUS (Apr 20-May 20)

For Taurus, the astrologers say;

A true Taurus appreciates the finer things in life and where better to show off your taste for lavish décor than at home? A sign who loves to add indulgent fabrics wherever possible, from cushions and throws to a dreamy velvet sofa, all tied in with a few eclectic artworks and elegant lighting. Admit it, you are also slightly obsessed with earthy colours and stepping into your home is like walking into a botanical oasis. With the motto ‘you can never have too many house plants’, investing in a fancy new vase or chic plant pots might be worthwhile for the new year.

Daddy P is a fan of velvet and we are both loving this new lush green shade that’s popping up everywhere. We are actually going to paint our living room in this colour sometime in the new year which will be exciting! We’ve always dreamed of buying a velvet sofa but with two young children, it’s not the right time for us to do it although it’s in our future plans. In the meantime we will definitely be adding more indulgent fabrics to our home/

The Greenwich Mummy Blog - How to decorate your home according to your horoscope
My indulgent fabrics and plants list

  1. Luxe Cushion in teal by Symple Stuff
  2. Berkshire Cushion by Canora Grey
  3. Ione Cushion in ochre by Rosdorf Park
  4. Monstera Floor Foliage Plant in Pot
  5. Throw in charcoal by Christy
  6. Drummond throw in silver by Rosdorf Park

Daddy P is actually not a fan of the botanical look but I am totally mad for it – we have started our plants collection and will continue adding to it. We currently have a mix of real and artificial plants because it’s easier to manage and it also gives the room a little more depth… or so I like to believe. We have two pots of beautiful pink winter heath but they died from lack of water and sunlight on our balcony – oops! The good thing about the winter heath is that the beautiful coloured bulbs don’t fall out until the next season so they look alive and colourful but are in fact dead. It gives us enough time to try and revive them or thrown them out and purchase some new ones.

The Greenwich Mummy Blog - How to decorate your home according to your horoscope
Luxe textures and indulgent fabrics / image: Wayfair UK

 


P I N  T H I S  P O S T !

 

The Greenwich Mummy Blog - How to decorate your home according to your horoscope


This post was created in response to Wayfair UK’s latest article on decorating your home according to your horoscope: http://bit.ly/wayfairhoroscope – I was sent the inforgaphic but was not compensated for this post. I genuinely wanted to share this great content with you all.

The Greenwich Mummy Blog: The Lost Thing at Linbury Theatre review

Review: The Lost Thing at the Linbury Theatre, Royal Opera House

So you want to hear a story?
Yrots a raeh ot tnaw uoy os?

Last week we were invited along to attend a showing of The Lost Thing at the Royal Opera House. As the show was suitable for children aged 6+ I was allowed to bring a plus one and naturally, I took Little Man with me. We don’t go to the theatre regularly and normally when we do go, it’s usually to our local Greenwich Theatre (which is fantastic for families!) so going to a fancy one like the Royal Opera House, I had to make sure my little monster was going to be on his best behaviour.

We attended the evening performance (7.15PM) but there are days when a matinee performance is showing. We made our way from North Greenwich to Covent Garden easily and just missed the rush hour period as we set off around 5PM. When we arrived at the Royal Opera House, we were ‘greeted’ by the doorman (they just opened the door, no smiles and we were the first to initiate the actual greeting, but hey ho) who showed us the way to the reception desk. Looking around I could see why we were not as warmly welcomed as we would be at our little Greenwich Theatre. The majority of the ROH attendees are mostly older, mostly middle-class and attended without children. A totally different demographic than what we’re used to seeing.

As we headed downstairs to the Linbury Theatre, it was a little less intimidating as we saw more families and young children. Little Man didn’t notice anything but as a parent, I feel like the theatre should be a more welcoming place for those with young children. Perhaps if we had attended a matinee performance it would’ve probably felt less judging as we usually associate evening shows with adult guests rather than young families.

As we were a little early, we decided to head back up and have a look around the small gift shop. We bought a laser-light keyring and a ballet pump keyring for Little Miss. We then headed back downstairs to the cafe outside the Linbury Theatre and had a hot chocolate and a brownie which satisfied our sweet craving.

The Greenwich Mummy Blog: The Lost Thing at Linbury Theatre review
A quick photo before heading inside the Royal Opera House

What is The Lost Thing?

The Lost Thing is a picture book written and illustrated by Shaun Tan. It became one of his bestselling books worldwide and well-recognised in the literature world. The story is about a boy who discovers ‘The Thing’ which doesn’t seem to belong to anything in particular, making it ‘lost’. In the book, The Thing looks very mechanical and is orange-red with greenish metal claws and legs whereas in the theatre production, it’s more organic and living with a green, moss-like body and ever-changing number of legs.

In this theatrical adaptation by Ben Wright and Jules Maxwell (from Candoco Dance Company, a world-leading professional dance company) we are treated to a different kind of storytelling; one that’s filled with not only music but also theatrical singing, opera and dance along the way. ‘Mixing it up’ is definitely a good way of exposing children of this new generation to a variety of performing arts.

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | The Lost Thing at Royal Opera House Review
Joel Brown as The Boy

Review: The Lost Thing at Royal Opera House

Despite the lukewarm review of the show being “too static and slow” from The Guardian online, I much agree with the reviews from Culture Whisper and British Theatre Guide. The performance was pleasantly executed, and provided both children and adults with some true thought-provoking moments. In the programme booklet they gave me, it mentions that The Thing in the performance is not meant to replicate Tan’s illustration but instead, represents something living and organic. The Thing can shape-shift changing from two legs to eight legs, growing larger or smaller depending on its mood.

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | The Lost Thing at Royal Opera House Review
The Boy finds The Thing

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | The Lost Thing at Linbury Theatre review
Shaun Tan’s ‘The Thing’ / Photo Credit: ACMI

“We wanted to take it in a completely different direction and build on the skeleton of the story, which is about celebrating difference, supporting what is lost, and potentially contemplating what we are losing. We decided to shift the nature of The Thing itself to be this odd, biodiverse, many-limbed organism…
Ben Wright, interviewed by Lyndsey Winship

I can understand why there may be some disappointment as to why the original story was never followed through completely but then again, adapting a picture book into an opera/theatrical performance is not ordinary neither. The story lines is minimal but I think that makes it easy for children to understand. There’s also surtitles and audio description for those hard of hearing. The diverse cast are fantastic – all extremely talents and a good mix of both disabled and non-disabled dancers, musicians, singers.

I thought the interpretation of The Thing as something organic and living, familiar yet somehow forgotten, was like a metaphorical example of the world we live in today. There is a scene where The Boy almost hands The Thing over to the odds and ends department, but then a janitor appears and strongly advises against it, saying that things left there get permanently forgotten. We then see the janitor being comforted by The Thing and feeling happy that it’s in his presence. It reminded me of how happy and content we once were to just enjoy simple things ie. nature but now we’re constantly fixated on our phones and devices.

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | The Lost Thing at Royal Opera House Review
The Boy and The Thing

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | The Lost Thing at Royal Opera House Review
The Janitor, The Boy and The Thing

“In the book, the denouement is that it finds a place where it belongs. In our version that place is a very saturated, green, mossy jungle…”
Ben Wright, interviewed by Lyndsey Winship

Summary: my thoughts on The Lost Thing

Little Man loved the performance and has asked to go back to watch The Thing come to life again. We will aim to go before the new year. He also lost his thing (a small toy) there at the theatre, which has now become his ‘lost thing’ – now isn’t that a story within a story for you?

I loved the story so much that I ordered the picture book online for Little Man, he instantly recognised the book from the ochre colour scheme and enjoyed reading it however he told me that he much prefers the ending that he saw in the opera adaptation.

The Lost Thing is showing until January 4th 2020 and tickets are between £7.00-£35.00 for a seat, how can you resist a familiar yet story?

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | The Lost Thing at Royal Opera House Review
Taking The Thing to the place where it belongs

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | The Lost Thing at Royal Opera House Review
So you want to hear a story?

You can watch the video of Shaun Tan’s story here:

P I N  T H I S  P O S T

The Lost Thing


[AD] We were given complimentary tickets to attend the performance of The Lost Thing at the Royal Opera House in exchange for this review post. All opinions and content are in my own words and photos that have been used are credited to their sources respectively.