Toy Story 3

July 21, 2010

Toy Story 3It’s finally hitting the UK big screens. The eagerly anticipated third instalment in arguably the best film trilogy of all time. Receiving rave reviews Toy Story 3 from the Pixar stable is now showing at a cinema near you. The toys are back!
It is ten years since Toy Story 2 and Andy, now 17 years old, has outgrown his old toys. About to depart for college he decides to take Woody with him as a reminder of his childhood days and packs the rest of the toys away with the intention of storing them in the attic.
Unfortunately, Andy’s Mum things the bag is rubbish to be thrown out and she puts it out for collection. Without giving too much away, the toys end up at a daycare centre where things are not as they first appear.
The film features all of the old favourites from the previous two Toy Story films – Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jesse, Bullseye, Clinky, Ham, Mr Potato Head and Rex together with some new toys. Watch out for a great turn by Michael Keaton voicing Ken!
Toy Story 3 has received universal acclaim and is that rarest of things – a second sequel that is as good if not better than it’s predecessors.

The Gruffalo

July 8, 2010


Written by Julia Donaldson and wonderfully illustrated by Axel Sceffler The Gruffalo was voted as the UK’s favourite children’s bedtime story by BBC Radio 2 listeners in 2009.

First published in 1999 the book has now sold over ten million copies and is a contemporary classic. Written in rhyming couplets with an engaging rhythm, the book tells the story of a clever mouse who is foraging in the woods for a tasty nut to eat. On his journey he meets variously an owl, a snake and a fox, each of which think the mouse will make an extremely delicious snack.

To evade their clutches the cunning mouse makes up a story about a terrifying creature called a Gruffalo who happens to enjoy eating foxes, snakes and owls! At the mention of this hideous beast the other animals soon flee and leave the mouse to continue his search.

However, imagine the mouse’s horror when he finally encounters a Gruffalo! Then the mouse………… Well that would be telling wouldn’t it?

Based on a traditional Chinese folk tale this book is aimed firmly at the 3-7 year group and comes thoroughly recommended.


March 3, 2010

Gruffalo TrunkiThere’s a really nice story behind the invention of this popular kids suitcase which is now instantly recognisable and on sale in some of our biggest department stores.

After initially being turned down and give short shrift on Dragons Den for his invention Rob Law’s innoative and useful design has gone on to be a huge commercial success. To say they were unkind would be an understatement describing Trunki as ‘worthless’ and also ironically being told by the head of a holiday firm that there was ‘no market for the case’. How wrong can you be?

This wheeled suitcase doubles up as a ride on toy and is aimed at the 3 to 6 year old age group so that they can take their own luggage on holiday and have something to sit on in airport queues. Trunkis come in several different designs each brightly coloured and beautifully designed. Choose from Gruffalo, Harley, Tipu, Terrance and Trixie. Also available are a wide range of Trunki extras such as wrist purses, pencil cases, wash bags, holsters, saddle bags and tote bags.

Another great idea are Yondis – a unique travel pillow that fits snugly behind the head so your toddler can nap peacefully and be comfortable. These are available in two sizes 1 to 4 years and 4 to 8 years and are machine washable.

Last but not least and launching this year are BoostApaks. The law requires children under 12 years old or 135cm in height to use a booster seat. This excellent idea is an ideal solution not only is it a useful hand luggage approved rucksack it doubles as a booster seat.

Well done!

So the inventor of Trunki has proved the Dragons wrong and how much more satisfying is it to turn down a Dragon as Trunki’s inventor did when one offered an investment in the company of £100,000. He said no thank you!

Family Staycations

March 2, 2010

Holidy in the UK

More and more of us are choosing to spend our well earned ‘downtime’ enjoying a staycation with the family. The current state of the economy is certainly putting the squeeze on many travel plans.
In the USA a staycation generally means to spend one’s vacation (that’s holiday to you and me) either at or near to home. Here in the UK the meaning seems to have expanded to also include taking holidays in the British Isles.

There are some great places to visit with kids in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland whether you are looking for a short city break, fun filled days out or getting closer to nature under canvas.

For families the choices for a memorable staycation have never been better. There are many family friendly holiday parks run by well know names such as Haven, Hoseasons, Pontins and Parkdean offering breaks to suit all tastes and budgets. For a short hotel stay, Superbreak have a wide selection of choices and you can even add rail travel into the package.

Or you could simply decide to have a relaxing, stress free staycation in your very own back garden. Put out those comfy chairs, light up the barbecue, crack open a couple of cold beers, set the kids to play on various garden games and lay back and enjoy.

Just a shame about the British weather……

Kids Love To Read

March 1, 2010

Sales of children’s books have seen a healthy increase with a rise of almost 5% with picture books sales increasing to 13% on 2008 figures. In the UK last year more than 60 million books were sold generating more than £293m to the book industry.

Taking the top 5 spots for best selling books were Stephenie Meyers Twilight series of books contributing £29.3m in sales. Her series of books of modern day vampires have been a massive hit.

Children love to readNational Year of Reading and World Book Day usually held in March are now regular events with schools participating in after school book sales. Children usually receive a £1 book voucher as encouragement to buy a new book. Also many campaigns have encouraged parents to read to their children from an early age particular introducing babies and toddlers to to picture books.

Anthony Browne, Children’s Laureate says “The best picture books leave a tantalising gap between the pictures and the words, a gap that is filled by the reader’s imagination”.

Library lending is also on the increase with children borrowing more books than 3 to 4 years ago. Libraries are also playing an important role in encouraging children to read by staging more events for children to join in on such as meet the author sessions.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The best selling young children’s books were

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The Tyrannosaurus Drip Song by Julia Donaldson
Stick Man by Julia Donaldson
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sandak
The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson

On a footnote my 5 year old read a book to me yesterday for the first time. We were waiting in the car for his big sister when he proudly read Hide and Seek to me. What a joyous and rewarding expereince that any parent can relate to – sharing quality reading time is truly one of the most pleasurable moments of the day.

The Cost Of Raising Kids

February 25, 2010

It’s official the cost of raising a family has reached a new high. A new report suggested for the first time the amount of money spent per child from birth to age 21 years has topped £200,000 – a rise of 43% from the first survey 2003.


This even takes into account parents cutting down on expenditure during the recession. In the first year alone expect to fork out £9,152. The biggest drain on finances was childcare followed by nursery fees, holiday and after school clubs coming in at a whopping £54,696. Education costs were put at £52,881, food £17,490, clothing £14,035 and holidays at £13,207.

Peak expenditure times were during the university ages of 18 to 21 when you could expect to pay £13,677 a year. London families topped the expenditure list with an average of £220,769 and the least expensive was £177,706.

With parents continuing to worry about money more than three quarters of them say that they have cut back on family expenditure during this tough economic climate. Even kids are helping their parents with some 13% of parents being asked for less pocket money.

Mike Rogers, group chief executive of LV= who are part of Liverpool Victoria, commented “Every parent will know how expensive it can be to raise a little one and, as parents, we know we don’t begrudge a single penny of it.

“But I suspect many new and prospective mums and dads will be a little shocked to see the potential financial burden ahead of them.”

Stressing the importance of planning ahead chief executive of Child Trust Fund provider The Children’s Mutual David White said it was important for parents to plan ahead. “I think the cost of raising children is definitely increasing and of course this is a hugely emotional matter for families because it is their kids.

“What we are finding is that parents are becoming more aware of this and planning ahead. It is much better to save from when the child is very young and to start saving for their long-term future.”

The Princess and the Frog

February 25, 2010

Disney The Princess and The FrogThe Princess and the Frog is Disney’s latest offering and a return to old style animation. The plot is loosely based on novel by E D Baker – The Frog Princess.

It tells the story of Prince Naveen from Maldonia who arrives in town to deal with voodoo magician Dr Facilier who turns Prince Naveen into a frog. Needing a kiss on the lips from a beautiful princess Prince Narveen mistakes Tiana  for a princess and kissing her on the lips turns her into a frog too! Tiana is a waitress aiming to fulfill her late father’s dream of opening a restaurant. What follows is an adventure through the bayous of Louisana, the banks of the Mississppi and the colourful spectacle of New Orlean’s Mardi Gras in search of the good voodoo queen.

Filled with memorable characters, wonderful music Disney have done it again! A wonderfully animated musical with lots of new characters that children and adults will love.

Now showing at Showcase and Cineworld cinemas around the country.

It’s Showtime!

February 24, 2010

With the Easter holidays fast approaching there’s some fabulous family shows on around the country. Have a look at the list we’ve put together with details on how to book.

Disney Live

Disney Live! Three Classic Fairy Tales – Laugh, clap and sing along to Snow White, Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast in this fantastic show. With spectacular sets and costumes, heroes and villains and humour and romance your little ones and you will love the very best Disney has to offer.

Peppa Pig’s Party – Live on stage. A sure hit with youngsters Peppa Pig has catapulted to super stardom over the last few years. The BAFTA Award winning TV programme is transported to a live stage show where it’s a very special day – Peppa’s birthday. Join in the fun and songs with Peppa and her little brother George, Suzy Sheep, Danny Dog and Emily Elephant.

Postman Pat – Newly promoted to Head of the Special Deilvery Service or SDS Pat brings a brand new show called “A Very Royal Mission” With only a short time to prepare for a visit from someone special to open the brand new SDS sorting office Pat and Jess have their work cut out. What will go wrong………..

Noddy Live – Noddy and Tessie Bear have invited everyone to join in their sing-a-long, dance-a-long party in Toy Town. Celebrating 60 years of Noddy children will love this fun filled adventure.

This is just a selection of the family shows available on Ticketmaster.

Pottery Parties For Kids (and Adults)

February 22, 2010

Pottery PartiesPottery parties are great for all ages and artistic ability and you come away with a unique momento of a happy, fun time. Adults can join in too – you don’t need to be an expert!

Firstly choose an item to paint from a wide range of plain ceramics usually there’s plates, bowls mugs, animals etc. You choose the design and colours and once you’ve finished painting leave it to be glazed and fired. Call back in a few days to collect the finished article or arrange for it to be posted to you.

Parties vary from studio to studio, some can arrange a party at home, via the post or by visiting a studio but whatever you choose you can be sure that this is a fun way to celebrate a special occasion.

Here are a few links to pottery parties from around the country. If your link isn’t here let us know and we’ll be pleased to add you.

Doodlepots, Whitby
Splat, Hampshire
The Mustard Seed, Gwent
Kidz Craft, Swindon
Barefoot Ceramics, Newport
Clayworks Pottery, Shropshire
Espression, Kent
Pottery in Motion, Devon
Crackpots, Warrington
Crazy Glazy, Huntingdon
Gone Potty, Merseyside

Tumble Tots

January 28, 2010

Tumble TotsSince 1979 Tumble Tots have provided more than a million children with a fun, physical play programme.

Tumble Tots promotes a healthy and active lifestyle, confidence and the challenges of developing new skills. Exercise should be fun that’s why Tumble Tots have an exciting range of fun activities to encourage a healthy way of life that will follow the children throughout their lives.

Each 45 minute session is run by specially trained staff and is carefully structered to combine fun, axcitement and challenges. All of this takes place in a safe and caring environment. Children develop skills of agility, balance, co-ordination and climbing using brightly coloured Tumble Tots equipment. There are 3 programmes Gymbabes, Tumble Tots and Gymbobs.

Tumble Tots have a great website where you can find your local centre, read about the programme and browse the online shop. There is also an informative parent and tots resource, competitions and much, much more.

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