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Boys, Bakes & Books

The amazing adventures of Super Tiddles and the Duracell Bunny

Bauer Academy – Living the Dream

Good morning readers!

Imagine an Academy that offers free industry based training with a whopper of a media group. Do you believe such a thing exists? No? Well neither did I until a few weeks ago.

It all began one day when I was researching magazines to analyse for my freelance writing course and found myself looking at Bauer Media Group’s website. I spotted an advert for the Academy and sent off my details. Then a couple of weeks ago an email pinged into my inbox inviting me to attend the Making Creativity Work course. I couldn’t quite believe it to start with (I still can’t to be honest). I arranged for my mum to look after Super Tiddles and Deebee so I could attend the first three days of the course.

I rocked up on Tuesday having a vague idea what to expect but it was all shrouded in mystery and suspense. This was the first day of the course. It was designed to get the students’ creative juices flowing. There are four other people in the group, all of vaguely similar ages to me. A couple of hours into the course we found ourselves walking up and down Carnaby Street attempting to get creative with a banana. It was bizarre but strangely liberating. We were given a few other exercises to get us into the mindset of thinking creatively.

I woke up on Wednesday and made a mad dash to London to find out what was in store for me. The key message of day two is that creativity alone isn’t enough. To innovate you must ‘make creativity work’. We were then split into groups and given various briefs which aimed to demonstrate how to channel creativity in the media industry.

Yesterday was a mind-blowing day. The focus was on story telling. I see myself as a story teller but the point of the course is that there are many ways to tell a story. We were given more tasks which gave us the chance to try out different ways to tell stories. We were also given many tips on how to engage our audience.

Tomorrow is the next day of the course and I can’t wait… I’ll let you know how I get on.

 

 

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New Forest Magic – Burley Fudge and Witches

Good morning readers!

Deebee and Super Tiddles are on their school Easter holidays at the moment. We have been rather busy Iately so I haven’t had much time to write. I dropped them off at their play scheme earlier though so I have some time to myself.

We took advantage of the fine weather last week and headed to the New Forest. I think the New Forest is a magical place and I always love going there. The boys do too. On our previous visit we discovered the wonderful Burley Fudge. This time Hubby was keen to go there again so that was our first port of call.  The shop is a wonderful place. There are a myriad of flavours of fudge including the (less than pleasant) marmite fudge and yummy Eton Mess fudge to the more traditional flavours such as clotted cream and chocolate. It really is worth going to the New Forest just to get Fudge from Burley.

The other thing Burley is famous for is witchcraft. At the end of the 1950s, a witch by the name of Sybil Leek lived in the village. The locals weren’t too happy as she used to walk around the village wearing a long black cloak with her jackdaw, Hotfoot Jackson, perched on her shoulder. So she upped sticks and moved to America where she continued to study and write about the occult and astrology. Some locals viewed Sybil Leek as a fraud and believed that the nearby Thorney Hill witches had been practicing witchcraft for much longer. Whatever the truth is, the village is hidden deep in the forest and seems to be the perfect place for a coven of witches to live.

I’m off to eat some fudge. I’ll tell you more about our trip tomorrow.

Bye!

Hero on Horseback – The Diamond Centre

Good afternoon readers!

It’s about three years since I put Super Tiddles on the waiting list for riding lessons at the Diamond Centre. The centre is obviously very popular so we gladly bided our time. A few weeks ago we received an email telling us that we had finally reached the top of the waiting list and inviting us along for an assessment.

Today was the big day! I was a little apprehensive because although Super Tiddles adores animals he has recently become very wary of dogs. I was secretly concerned that he would be anxious about getting on the horse but my fears were unfounded. He took to it like a duck to water! The only time he got upset was when he was told that it was time to get off Pepsi, the pony that was chosen for him. She was the perfect pony for him, gentle in nature.

The Diamond Centre for Disabled Riders is a wonderful place. I can’t wait to take my little hero to his next lesson. I am seriously considering volunteering there during the week too. They are always in need of volunteers and it would be a good way to get myself out of the house during the week.

Keep Calm and Bake On

Good evening readers!

I feel compelled to write something about the horrible events which took place in London yesterday. I know there have been many terror attacks in recent years, all of which are tragic beyond words, but yesterday’s attack felt much too close to home (to me). I was in London on Monday for an evening class and spent the afternoon mooching about the city taking in some of the sights. Last week a very good friend of mine visited London with her family so I dread to think what could have happened if they had been there yesterday.

When I heard about what happened yesterday I didn’t know what to think at first. I think the quote below from Martin Luther King sums up exactly how we should react to the small minority of people who think that it’s OK to carry out these attacks on innocent people. In my mind, the title of this post is all we should do, Keep calm and bake on. Who has a good recipe for me to try out?

MLK

The Sand Dragon

Good evening readers!

Super Tiddles chose this book from his school library last week and he adores it. I think it’s a wonderful story too. Su Swallow is Jane Oliver’s nom de plume. She has been writing children’s books for over 3o years. Her books include Nick’s Birthday and Albert Liked Ladders and of course The Sand Dragon.

The Sand Dragon is aimed at early readers. It is a wonderfully simple idea for a story but is beautifully crafted. The simple idea is that a boy called Edward spends the day at the seaside with his family. He makes a ‘sand dragon’ out of sand, shells and seaweed. I don’t want to give too much away but the story continues with the dragon’s antics after the boy goes home. The simple language and imagery really appeals to children who are just starting to read. The illustrations in the book are also lovely and really add to the storytelling. My boys love looking at the illustrations and talking about what was happening in the story. The artist is an Italian artist by the name of Silvia Raga. Her artwork really appeals to young children. The boys both said that the dragon looks more like a T-Rex though so in our house it’s known as the Sand Dinosaur. The book is a great inspiration for imaginative play.

I had an afternoon in London yesterday. I happened to spot a 3D dinosaur cookie cutter on my travels. Tomorrow I plan to make dinosaurs with the boys. I’ll let you know how we get on.

Bye for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Scream Outside Schools

Good evening readers!

When Deebee started school the ice cream van which parked outside the school was the bane of my life. Every day he would spot the van and ask for an ice cream. Being a mean mummy I would refuse to buy him one which would then cause him to throw the mother of all tantrums and scream ‘I want an ice cream!’ as I dragged him all  the way back to the car. The same scene would play out most days until autumn arrived and the van decided to call time on summer.

The long dreaded day arrived on Monday when the ice cream van returned. I arrived at school to pick Deebee up and there it was, sitting there like a siren tempting children towards it. Until today I managed to sneak my son out of school by crawling on our hands and knees so that he didn’t notice the van. My plan was going well until this afternoon. We walked past a car full of children eating huge ice creams. ‘Where’s the ice cream van?’ he asked me. ‘I don’t know where it is’ I lied, hoping he wouldn’t turn around and spot it. I thought I’d got away with it as we rounded the corner and it went out of sight. Unfortunately for me,  as soon as we got round the corner we saw a little girl tantrumming. Her mother glanced at me and said the cursed words ‘I wish there wasn’t an ice cream van outside school’. In a desperate attempt to convince Deebee that there was no ice cream van outside school I instantly said ‘well there isn’t’. She missed the point entirely and said ‘Yes there is, I’ve just seen it’. All I could do was grab my son by the hand and run.

If I ruled the world ice cream vans would be banned outside schools. What do you think?

The Chocolate Museum

our chocs

 

Hello readers!

Super Tiddles and I spent Sunday afternoon at the Chocolate Museum in Brixton having a magical time learning all about how chocolate is made. The picture above shows some of the delights we made together.

I went on a basic chocolate making course a few weeks ago and was so pleased with how well I did that I decided to find out more about chocolate making. I did an Internet search to find out about other classes and chocolate making events/activities. That’s how I found out about The Chocolate Museum.

Deebee said that he wanted to go on a bike ride and didn’t want to come with me (but made me promise to bring him back some chocolate). Super Tiddles was very keen to come so we set off on Sunday morning. It took us quite a long time to get to central London on the train. Super Tiddles was so excited on the train but I managed to calm him down with a magazine. When we got to Victoria it was just a short journey on the tube to Brixton. The Museum is a few minutes away from the tube station on foot.

 

 

When we arrived at the Museum the lady, who introduced herself as Hannah, told us that there was a party due to arrive imminently but we had a very warm welcome all the same. She made me a lovely cup of herbal tea and took us downstairs where there was a film on a loop explaining all about the process of making chocolate. After the film had finished we had a look around the permanent exhibition downstairs which contains all sorts of fascinating chocolate memorabilia collected by the owner over the years.

By this time the museum had been taken over by the party so we decided to go off and get some lunch and then return to the museum later when the party was finished. We took our time over lunch and got back just as the party was drawing to a close. Within a few minutes the whole place was empty and Hannah was able to give us her full attention. We chatted as she prepared the equipment for our choccie making workshop and it emerged that she used to teach special needs children. She was amazingly patient with Super Tiddles and had a good understanding of how to communicate with him and manage any problems. Super Tiddles’ favourite bit was mixing the chocolate in the bowl as we tempered it. We were sent home after a couple of hours very contentedly with a bag full to the brim of the chocolates we made together.

To find out more about the Chocolate Museum (including information about the drop in workshops and parties) see the website http://www.thechocolatemuseum.co.uk/

I don’t care what anybody says. Chocolate is magical.

Crownies

Hello readers!

You are undoubtedly wondering what in the name of God the above picture is. I can’t say I blame you.

I hereby present to you… drum roll please….. THE CROWNIE!!!!

I thought that I was being original then and had invented a new delicacy but when I googled Crownie I found that it’s not a new invention after all. Apparently it means part cookie part brownie but surely it could also mean a cross between cake and brownie.

I planned to bake some chocolate cupcakes with Deebee and Super Tiddles this afternoon so I got my butter and eggs out of the fridge this  morning and found a simple cupcake recipe which I found online this morning.

When both boys were home I let them watch some TV to wind down after school before we got on with our baking. Both boys were keen to help measure out all of the ingredients and mix them all together. This is good as they are reading out numbers as well as learning to bake and it is great for family bonding. The recipe I was using called for milk but as I didn’t have any I decided to substitute it with water and hope for the best. This may well have been where it all went so wrong. When the cake batter was ready we put it in the cupcake tin (which was already filled with cake cases). When I checked on them 15 minutes later they were over risen and raw in the middle. I left them for a further five minutes to see if they would come good but five minutes later it was clear they were beyond saving.

That was the moment Deebee came to see our cakes. I told him they had gone wrong but the boys said they wanted to try them anyway so we put them in bowls and they tucked into them with spoons. Deebee told me that I should make our cakes go wrong more often because they tasted better than normal. I’ve just tried one and they are indeed divine.

There is a life lesson to be learnt here. Things may not always turn out the way you expected or wanted them to but they can turn out to be wonderful all the same.

I’m off to write my recipe down.

Bye for now.  🙂

 

 

Roves Farm’s Bottom

Good evening readers!

We are currently enjoying a week away at my parents’ house in deepest Berkshire. Super Tiddles and Duracell Bunny (who I’ve decided to call Deebee from now on) love staying with their grandparents and it’s a much needed change of scenery for us.

As it was such a nice day we decided to go to one of our favourite haunts in this neck of the woods. Roves Farm is a wonderful place. It is a family run farm park. The highlight for us is the themed tractor rides. Today the theme of the tractor ride was Gingerbread Race. This involved a race between the tractor and the Gingerbread man and culminated in a trip to Drury Lane where we came across the Muffin Man. He did a comedy turn before handing out little ginger bread biscuits to all the children. A good time was had by all.

After we got off the tractor we headed to the indoor play barn for some lunch. it was quite early but I was pleased at how efficiently the cafe was run. I picked up some pre-filled lunch boxes for the boys and a sandwich and drink for myself. A lovely lady called me over to the cash only till as there was no queue at all.

We finished lunch quickly so the boys went off to play. There is a ‘rabbit warren’ of tunnels for the children to crawl around. There are also ledges to climb up and down. After a few minutes I saw a disastrous scene unfold before my eyes. Super Tiddles managed to get himself stuck on a ledge and I could see Deebee trying desperately to help him down. Due to his diminutive size, all Deebee could do was try to pull his brother down. This seemed to be going well until Deebee accidentally pulled his brother’s trousers down, exposing his bottom to everyone in the play barn. His desperate attempts to salvage the situation were painful. I could hear the lady behind me commenting on the scene and giggling. I turned round and jokingly said “they’re not with me”. When I turned back, I saw that Deebee had managed to help Super Tiddles pull his trousers back up and restore his dignity. Super Tiddles then retaliated by giving his brother a clip round the ear.

Anyway, after the boys had had enough of playing in the barn we went outside to see the ducks on the lake. We also looked at the baby lambs and the highland cattle. If you’re ever near Swindon and fancy a great family day out I urge you to head straight for Roves Farm. For more information have a look at their website http://rovesfarm.co.uk

Bye for now!

 

 

 

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