Sunday, 31 July 2011

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 30 July 2011

HMS Belfast Gun Turret Exhibit

We were lucky enough to be invited to HMS Belfast on Thursday to see the new Gun Turret exhibit that is opening on board.

I arrived with my 10 year old son and his best buddy on a beautiful sunny morning to be greeted with tea and pastries and a press pack with all the information about the exhibit and HMS Belfast itself. We were then guided along to the exhibit which actually does take place within one of the 'gun housings' themselves. we went in and a black curtain darkened the inside. There is only room for a couple of families at a time in there so the children were encouraged to move forward to the front. A short film started to play with the story told from the perspective of a serviceman on board the Belfast in time of war. It takes you through what would happen in the run up to the guns being fired, with the workings moving and getting prepared. The experience culminated in a reenactment how it would feel to be inside there if the guns were fired, so loud noise, floor shaking and some smoke too. The boys thought it was great!

I am told that this film will be running on a timed loop for visitors to enter and watch during their visit. There is no extra cost to this so once you have paid your entrance fee everything then on board will be included. With this film on a constant loop it would be something that you could watch a few times on your visit if your children enjoy it.

Afterwards we were taken to the Operations Room where there are a couple of hands on games they can play. It consists of touch screen maps were the children or adults use ships and helicopters to search for aircraft wreckage on a timed game. The two boys loved this and were very disappointed by a 'Mission Failed' on their first attempt!!

Then we moved into the front control room with the Captains chair complete with uniform and hats for the children to try on, and two very helpful guides who encouraged the boys to put the coats and hats on and got them searching for different things to spot out of the window with the old sets of binoculars! The boys were in their element.

View from the Captains Chair!
In his dreams LOL

We were then offered a guided tour around the ship or the chance to explore by ourselves. The boys opted to investigate the rest of the ship using the guide map. We went from the very top to the very bottom and had great fun on all the levels along with the child friendly hands on displays.
Using Morse code!
Attempting the knots!

Word of warning......go sensibly dressed in trousers and don't wear flip flops!!!! Not that I did, but there was a lady with her son there who had great difficulty in a maxi dress and sandals, going up and down the very steep ladder/steps!!!

Although I went round with two gun mad boys who seemed to love everything about the ship I didn't feel that this would be a trip exclusively for boys. There were lots of girls on board who seemed to be having just as much fun. There is also a fab little cafe on board for that necessary thirst quenching cuppa for the adults, but if your budget doesn't run to extras there is an area just as you come on board where lots of families were indulging in their picnics too.

As with most London attractions, visits don't come cheap with an adult ticket @ £13.50 and a child @ £5.50. However don't be put off as there are lots of 2 for 1 offers when travelling by train, and if your child is lucky enough to be the proud owner of a Blue Peter Badge ( yes they are still going!!) they will get in free!!


Just as an extra there is a competition running for a family to win tickets to HMS Belfast with the opportunity to be aboard when the fire the guns for real!!!!

To enter the prize draw, readers just have to email and the winner will be selected at the end of July.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Competition- HMS Belfast!

One of the great attractions in London, to do with children, is to visit the fantastic HMS Belfast. If you haven't been before it really is worth a visit. I have a great opportunity to go there this Thursday for the opening of the new 'Gun turret' on board. So that post will be coming at the weekend.

However, in the mean time they are running a great competition to win family tickets and a special tour on board HMS Belfast. The crew want everyone to have a blast, so they have decided to fire their guns for the winner! They don't do this very often so it will definitely be a rare treat for the winning family.

 To enter all you have to do is email to say you are interested, and then leave me a comment to say you have entered and include your favourite London attraction!!

Just to show you what you are missing take a look at this tour which will give an idea of what you will see
                                    PS: feel free to follow too!!!

Summer activities without breaking the bank!!

I'm a stay at home mum because of illness rather than choice. However I know there are lots of mums who also chose to stay at home while their children are young. This is great in the fact that childcare over the 6 week Summer holidays is not an issue.
 However when you don't work you don't earn money, and that is an issue when your facing 6 weeks of entertaining your children!!
My boys are aged 10 and 13 so there are only so many days that they will be happy to take some food and head of to one of the parks for the afternoon. Then comes the problem of not only entertaining the kids but keeping them active as well!
Tomorrow there will be an online programme broadcast that you can not only become involved in but also get great ideas on keeping the kids both entertained and active without costing a fortune!

So why not take a look at the link below if you would like some more information but also to submit a question yourself! 

Quadruple Olympic gold medal Matt Pinsent CBE will be online live tomorrow, Tues 26th July @ 2pm, on Studio talk TV.

Tune in tomorrow @ 2pm via the link below

What to do with your kids this summer?
Gold Medallist and dad Matt Pinsent - and Olympic friends - with ideas on how to keep them busy this summer…..and without breaking the bank!
Show date: Tuesday 26th July
Show time: 2:00pm  
With the summer holidays stretching ahead of us, there’s really only one thought on most mums’ minds – how am I going to keep them occupied for the next 6 weeks? And how am I going to do it without breaking the bank?
Summer is a great time to get out and about as a family, getting active together in the sunshine. But coming up with new activities and destinations can tax even the most imaginative mum during the long summer break.

Many schools and sports centres run summer sports clubs but they can be expensive and they tend to focus on the more ‘traditional’ sports of football, tennis and cricket.

But there is a new scheme launched this summer to give millions of kids access to play up to 27 different sports for free. The Nestle Get Set, Go Free scheme will, for the first time, give kids access to a range of amazing activities including scuba diving, white water rafting, horse riding and paintballing.
Quadruple Olympic gold medal Matt Pinsent CBE is an active dad of three young kids.
on Tuesday 26th July at 2pm  for a live webTV
offering to discuss the Nestle Get Set, Go Free campaign and give his hints and tips on some alternative activities this summer.
Click here to submit questions before the show:
For more information visit

Friday, 22 July 2011

Science Museum Space Exhibition- a free day out for summer!

I was lucky enough to be one of the few people invited to the relaunch of the Science Museum's Space Exhibition in London on Wednesday evening.

With me I had 2 trusty space explorers in the shape of my 10 year old and his best buddy! When we arrived we were welcomed  and our explorers were given the coolest video cameras to record their visit.
This was by far the best decision for the visit as all the children there were running around recording all sorts of different things going on!

So we were given a tour that led us through the space entrance and the children had their 'passports' to find a special letter in each of the relevant sections.

They loved this globe!

By far the most enjoyable bit for my two 10 year old explorers was definitely the Launchpad where they had the most amazing 'hands on' activities. As there were only a few of us there the children had the rare experience of being able to try lots of these out without a wait! Again this was something they talked about on the train journey home.

The wall of water/ bubbles!

In passing we went through the area where the Imax is and we came across these..........not space related but they loved one and I loved the other.

Boys and their toys!

A fantastic dress made entirely of sign of the boys!

They were then able to listen to a talk about all things space related by a real enthusiast, who dressed for the part and everything. Children being children though, were engrossed by the stories of how astronauts go the the toilet in space! Typical.

 We have visited the Science museum before but probably not since last year so my son had a real treat that evening. However, the tour itself went past very quickly and the children seemed understandably rushed from one part to another. They talked on the way home that they would have loved to have more time in each section. The upside to this is that it has given both of them a renewed interest to go back for the day over the summer. Although they wont be lucky enough to have video cameras next time, and the museum will be incredibly busy I'm sure, they are looking forward to staying for the day and visiting all the departments. I know for certain I will be sat in the hands on Launchpad for a very long time on my next visit!!

Please if you are close enough for a visit and haven't been before it truly is worth a trip. Any age group will enjoy it here and the adults will love it just as much as the kids.........I guarantee it!

This all kicks off on the 23rd July, the museum itself is free to get in (although there are charges for the Imax and simulator if you chose to do them). So there are no excuses for not popping along during the summer holidays (unless of course you live in Scotland!!)

Check out their website

Monday, 18 July 2011

Curious case of the 'open door'!!!

 It was Monday evening, the last night before the holidays for the weekly cub/scout meetings. Both my boys are in scouts however my OH helps in cubs and my youngest likes to go in to show off to his mates help also.

My eldest hates going up early (so bloody lazy) and so we tend to let him stay behind and this week he was getting a lift from a friend with his son. Not a problem we thought. He often opts to stay at home while I nip out with my youngest. A bit of responsibility or sneaky PlayStation/computer time. We were all young once so I know all the tricks!

Anyway the above mentioned teenager was left the responsibility of closing the door behind him and locking it. Not a major issue I hear you say. This is the boy who is going into year 9 in September, a boy who walks to school and home again on his own.


The fore mentioned teenager had the security issues explained to him and I was even kind enough to write it on a note as he has some short term memory issues. Nothing major he's just a bit of a Dory ( you know from Nemo???). It's kind of funny on occasion.

Anyway, he arrived at the scout hall to give me his keys and mention that he forgot to double lock the door!!!! SEE WHAT I MEAN!!!!
However he laughingly said to me ' Don't worry mum I shut it I just forgot to double lock it like you said'.  Ok I though not a major problem, I will be home in about 45 mins.

So we finished the cubs meeting and headed home about 8.15pm.

It was chucking it down with rain so I jumped from the car and opened the porch...................


Not just opened a bit, or closed but not properly (if you know what I mean) but actually wide open as though a furniture delivery had turned up and were about to try and fit a sofa through the door!!!

That's when the freak out occurred.

Shit..........what if someone is in there?
Shit..........what if someone has been in there and left us with nothing????
Shit..........what if squatters have taken residence and we cannot get our home back ??

SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT..............Like I said that's when the freak out occurred!

Thankfully my OH is 'Plod' and very level headed. Thankfully he was there otherwise I think I would have hyperventilated on  the you can tell I'm not great in a crisis.

He went in and we were relieved to find our telly still there, my son's laptop was still there, my bloody fridge freezer was still there.................oh and the moggy was still there too!!!!!

Thank God it had been raining ( I'm sure burglars must check the weather forecast before going out) I will never complain about the rain again...........honest.

 As predicted words were had and low and behold ' It wasn't me' followed by a huge meltdown!!!
 Followed by ' I don't care'!!

Disappointed doesn't even cover what happens now?
How do we get him to take responsibility seriously?
This is a boy who has lost..............his phone on a school field
                                         ...............a full PE kit at school
                                         ...............a wet weather coat
                                         ...............a lab coat
                                         ...............his new Ipod touch (8 weeks old)
                                         ...............and now our trust!!!!!
 All in the space of a few months, so where do we go from here?

Any help or advice would be most welcome........please.

Wicked! Competition

I don't know about you but I absolutley love to go to the theatre, and one of my favourite shows has to be Wicked which we took my mum to see on her 60th birthday!! It was a brilliant show and even my hubby (who's not a great lover of theatre) loved that is really saying something. I also know of a few people who have seen it several time! Admittedly I would love to go back and see it again.                                                                                                                                                               

So I was really interested in this opportunity to run this competition as it combines two of the things I am most interested in .................writing and theatre! ( ok the theatre would include film as well, I love all of it) However I am sadly over the age limit to try this one............unbelievable I know!

So here it is, a bit of writing on something that interests you, it's split into age categories which makes it fair and then you could be in with a chance of winning a Wicked Young writers Anthology that has been signed by Gregory Maguire himself!

So if you fancy yourself as a closet writer or your kids do then give it a go. But be quick as the closing date is 31st July 2011!!! 

Just do me a favour and comment to let me know you ave entered and tell me which theatre show is your favourite!!  
Check out the website link below for a few tips and more information

Win Wicked Young Writers Award Anthologies signed by Gregory Maguire

To celebrate the second year of the hugely successful WICKED Young Writers Award we are offering two lucky readers the chance to win a copy of the Wicked Young Writers Award Anthology signed by Gregory Maguire.

The smash hit West End musical WICKED launched the WICKED Young Writers’ Award in order to recognise excellence in writing, encourage creativity, and help develop literacy and writing talent in young people between the ages of 5 and 25 years old.

Inspired by the production’s roots within Gregory Maguire’s acclaimed novel, the Award is championed by Patron Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall and spearheaded by bestselling author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo. Assisting with the judging process will be Michael McCabe, Executive Producer of WICKED, and William Fiennes, founder of First Story, an organisation that supports and inspires creativity, literacy and talent in schools by arranging for authors to run long-term writing workshops in challenging secondary schools in the UK. 

Based on the acclaimed novel by Gregory Maguire that re-imagined the stories and characters created by L. Frank Baum in ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’, WICKED tells the incredible untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two girls who first meet as sorcery students. Their extraordinary adventures in Oz will ultimately see them fulfill their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.

The Award is separated into five categories between the ages of 5-25 and allows young people from across the UK and Northern Ireland to enter a piece of writing on a theme or subject of their choice.  Young people are free to submit entries written at home or at school, and teachers will also be encouraged to enter writing on behalf of their pupils through a schools’ entry form and online Teachers’ Resource featuring exclusive video tips for inspiring and encouraging writing in the classroom. 

The final date for entries is Sunday 31 July 2011Schools and individuals can enter and find tips on getting involved at

 For more information on WICKED visit the official Facebook page

For more information on the Wicked Young Writers Award visit the official site

                 GO ON HAVE A GO........YOU KNOW IT WOULD BE 'WICKED'!!