Father Christmas Stadium Tour at Tottenham

A week ago H and I headed to North London as I had bought tickets for us to do a Father Christmas Stadium Tour at Tottenham.

Father Christmas Stadium Tour at Tottenham various sights

The Father Christmas Stadium Tour at Tottenham was a new one for us – and was a bargain at £10 each. I’ve been desperate to take H to White Hart Lane for a while now especially with all the changes.

Before she was born, Shaun and I would go almost every home game we could. My gentle brainwashing has ensured H is also a Tottenham supporter. This was a big deal for H as it could be the only time she got to see the ground. We can’t afford to go to games and they don’t have friendlies on over the summer any more thanks to the stadium works.

It’s about now I should point out I loved the 1983 film ‘Those Glory Glory Days‘ (affiliate link). It shows a love of Tottenham from a group of girls who sneak into White Hart Lane. They stay overnight to get tickets for the FA Cup Final while wandering around the ground. H has watched the film with me and also enjoyed it. We were travelling to York that evening so any ideas of hiding in the ground and staying overnight weren’t going to happen, mind.

Father Christmas Stadium Tour at Tottenham old ground

So what did the Father Christmas Stadium Tour at Tottenham involve?

We met in the club shop. The group before us had Chirpy, the Tottenham mascot leading them around, so we missed out. We went into the main building – and straight to the press room. H and I got our photo taken (I was sat in Poccettino’s chair) and I was too busy grinning to try and look like I was giving a serious press interview.

After that we had some views of the new stadium from the press area – you can see how it’s growing. It’s going to be enormous.. maybe we will get to a game when we’re back there.

Father Christmas Stadium Tour at Tottenham home dressing room

We headed down to the dressing rooms. The player shirts were there and of course everyone went for Harry Kane. H went to Aldeweireld’s instead, so we got a few good pictures as the Kane-Alli-Lloris section got quieter!

I was surprised at the size of the area – it’s quite small. I thought changing rooms would be much bigger, but then I guess all you do is get changed, don’t you?

Father Christmas Stadium Tour at Tottenham cool stuff

A quick walk up the tunnel and to the pitch side and I was happy. We got to sit in the seats the management take during a game (they’re heated too), and gaze out at the ground.

H was quite keen to take it all in. This is her team and she had finally made it to the ground. I pointed out where we used to sit behind the goal on the South Side – you can see Shaun and I in the background of most pictures when Paul Robinson scored a goal. It was great.

Then it was time to visit the big man. The whole point of doing the Father Christmas Stadium Tour at Tottenham. He was just up the tunnel and in his own little blue and white room. Father Christmas was blue and white too. You know what? He was flipping brilliant too. He asked H questions, got her talking about stuff and heck, even I told him what I’d like for Christmas… (Tottenham to do okay this season)

Father Christmas Stadium Tour at Tottenham meeting Santa

We must have spent a few minutes in there, he was fantastic. H got two presents as well – a Tottenham annual (which is good as we’d thought about getting one in the club shop but hadn’t) and a little teddy which she has cuddled every night.

After the Father Christmas Stadium tour at Tottenham we headed back out, past the Hall of Fame and to the main office. I grabbed one last photo with H before we headed back south of the river, but with happy memories in place. I’m happy as she has finally seen White Hart Lane before it’s demolished.

H is happy as, in her words, she said “Mummy, I don’t know if you saw, but I touched Harry Kane’s shirt. I’m NEVER washing my hand EVER AGAIN!!!” – and I felt a moment of proper pride, this is the start of hero worship. Ew.

The Father Christmas Stadium Tour at Tottenham cost just £10 each. We had a 45 minute mini tour, our guides were brilliant and gave us loads of facts and information. I’m pleased we did it. I just wish White Hart Lane would exist next Christmas as I fear H might be too old for it the year after!

Cinderella at York Theatre Royal

I have been going to the York Panto since it first started in 1977. There has been one consistent force since then, the actor Berwick Kaler. This is his 38th panto. This year we headed out to see Cinderella at York Theatre Royal.

Berwick Kaler in Cinderella at York Theatre Royal
Berwick Kaler in Cinderella at York Theatre Royal – photo by Anthony Robling

Cinderella at York Theatre Royal is 2016’s panto. This is the fourth production over many years, and of course is a story we’re all familiar with.

The ingredients for a good panto :
• slapstick. Essential, and must be executed well
• a dash of anarchy in a child-friendly manner
• the obligatory water scene
• a cast who work well together
• plot – not essential, but needs to get where it needs to be
• ad-libs
• corpsing. It is acceptable to laugh at anything you weren’t expecting which happens during the panto, especially if you are a castmember
• catchphrases that return every year
• very famous people are NOT essential to make a panto good

I would say if there was a tick box of these essentials, then Cinderella at York Theatre Royal has them all. There has been one big thing missing this year though.

Berwick Kaler, the co-writer and the longest serving Panto dame in the country had a pacemaker fitted back in August. He’s fine now, and is back in this year’s performance. His trusty sidekick Martin Barrass had a horrible motorbike accident in September. He is recovering, but has had to miss this year.

Suzy Cooper and Harry Hughes plus mice at Cinderella at York Theatre Royal. Photo by Anthony Robling
Suzy Cooper and Harry Hughes plus the young people’s team as mice at Cinderella at York Theatre Royal. Photo by Anthony Robling

Other regulars are present and correct. David Leonard (long-serving too) is back as the baddie – Baroness von Naff. Suzy Cooper has also done over 20 years at the Theatre Royal, and returns playing Cinderella. Making up the numbers is AJ Powell who takes what would be Barrass’ place alongside Berwick Kaler. They’re the ugly sisters Priscilla and Hernia.

AJ Powell, Berwick Kaler and David Leonard in Cinderella at York Theatre Royal. Photo by Anthony Robling.
AJ Powell as Priscilla, Berwick Kaler as Hernia and David Leonard as Baroness von Naff in Cinderella at York Theatre Royal. Photo by Anthony Robling.

The production starts with a song ‘It’s a Pantomime!’, and Berwick is on stage. I always well up a bit when he stands at the front, and says “me babbies, me bairns”. It gets me every time! I’m not sure when he started saying it, but it’s something which has always been there and that I’ve grown up with.

The story follows the classic Cinderella tale but with a few variations. The ball happens, the glass slipper is lost, and Prince Charming’s love needs to be found. There are references dropped into the show from 2016 – Brexit, Trump, Pokemon are three that I think happened. Pokemon had my nephew laughing out loud.

Cinderella has the usual films which feature in key parts of the show. They don’t disappoint. We get Carpool Karaoke with Suzi Quatro and Berwick Kaler which is good daft fun. Then there’s a Rocky Horror Picture Show tribute featuring Harry Gration. This had me laughing out loud and cheering by the end.

The York Rescue Boat features too. The boat works on the Ouse and Foss and has had a horrible busy year. There is an option to donate to them in the programme too.

Cinderella at York Theatre Royal. Photo by Anthony Robling
Cinderella at York Theatre Royal. Photo by Anthony Robling Charleigh Webb (as Charleigh), Harry Hughes (as Buttons), Scott Wallace (as The Newcomer), Hermione Lynch (as Prince Charming), Jake Lindsay (as Dimdini), Danielle Mullan (as Fairy Godmother), Jack Lansbury (as Prince’s Equerry), Lauren Newton (as Lauren)

There are plenty of references to things around York including the obligatory mention of the suburb Clifton Without. Wagon Wheels feature (we got one!!) and more. No more Newcastle Brown this year for the daddies, they’ve changed the beer!

People travel from all over to see the York Panto. I can’t even try to explain it, it’s bonkers. It’s Cinderella, but not as you know it. You’ll go once and you’ll want to return.

What I love about the York Panto is that it works on every level. We were sat up in the gods where I could hear my mum laughing out loud. Shaun was enjoying it, and I had H and her cousin next to me who were both laughing out loud.

It’s a small production – it runs without understudies. If someone gets injured, the show must go on. I do remember Berwick Kaler getting hurt one year and having to be careful in the water scene the following night. It’s a brilliant production and it’s the same cast, bar the children dancers, every night. It’s a team.

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to bring H to the York Panto. Every year when I lived in York or went back for Christmas we would go on Christmas Eve. This year we went the day before, and we’re still talking about it! This might be as H got a shout out by Berwick and the gang during the songsheet section!

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Cinderella at York Theatre Royal runs from 8th December 2016 to 28th January 2017. Just go. You won’t regret it. The York Panto always makes The Guardian Top Panto picks every year (possibly as Alf Hickling is an old York lad so he too grew up with it).

Thank you to James the York Theatre Royal Communications Manager for sending me the photos! 

The Dyson V6 – One Year On

Last year we received an invite to try out the Dyson v6, and I promised a follow-up post. Which then didn’t happen as life got too busy, stuff happened and it’s a year on. But I’ve finished work for the year – so now I have time. So I thought it might be nice to do a Dyson v6 update.

me trying a Dyson v6 out

Dyson v6 is a cordless vacuum cleaner. We received one last year after attending a workshop. I was curious back then – we have our old Dyson which was our primary cleaner around the house. I assumed the v6 would be for those in-between jobs.

Not so.

The Dyson v6 has in fact replaced almost every method of cleaning in our house. It fits into our new cupboard where the leaky boiler used to live. I’ve even taken to bringing it to other people’s houses to do the cleaning, especially where there is glitter. It’s powerful and it does the job.

The only thing it doesn’t do is clean the dust from our blinds, everyone’s least favourite job. It could if we took them off the wall and put them on the floor, mind.

Dyson v6 Absolute

It has changed everything. Now little jobs are easy to do – after all, a few crumbs on the floor wouldn’t justify getting the big cleaner out. The Dyson v6 is small enough to do that and powerful enough to give the area a good clean.

Even H wants to use it. The novelty hasn’t worn off, she seems to enjoy doing a spot of cleaning with it, and I’m not going to stop her. I feel happier with her using it as there’s no chance she’ll pull the plug out of the wall with it being cordless.

It’s great for tricky to get to areas, and doesn’t lose its power. You get around 20 minutes of use on the normal setting which is enough for us to do the essential areas of the house. The turbo setting does use up more battery power, but is best used for tougher mess (like glitter).

That’s the other thing – battery life. I was curious, after a year would the battery charge drop off after a shorter period of time? This hasn’t happened to us. The Dyson v6 gets used a lot of times during the week – maybe five or so times. We’ve had no problems at all.

My friend cuts our hair at home. I hate cleaning wet hair out of the carpet – it never seems to pick up. Not with the Dyson v6 – it picks it up with no bother at all. In fact, my friend was so impressed she has bought one for herself.

I’ve found that the more people who have come over to try it out (always a good way to get your friends to do your cleaning!) the more seem to have bought one for themselves. It is light and has been great with my back having the problems it does. Our old Dyson DC04 is sitting gathering dust in the cupboard since the v6 arrived.

We were sent a Dyson v6 to review via Currys/Joe Blogs. All opinions are our own. Our previous post is here

Booking a Reptile Party – What to Look Out For

H recently had a reptile party for her seventh birthday.  It’s important to look out for certain things when you book a reptile party and was something I hadn’t thought enough about. Here are some top tips for booking a reptile party.

Stroking Tiny the African Bullfrog with Wild Fangs
Stroking Tiny the African Bullfrog with Wild Fangs

Booking a Reptile Party – The Most Important Things.

• Is the Reptile party host DBS checked?
They don’t have to be. If you’re providing entertainment for children, it makes sense to have one. While it isn’t compulsory, it’s a reassurance.
• Do they have public liability insurance which is valid and up to date?
From the internet: “Public liability insurance protects you if clients or members of the public suffer personal injury or property damage because of your business”. This is pretty sensible if you’re working with animals, especially spiders and snakes. Right?

A blurry Sebastian the Corn Snake from Wild Fangs
A blurry Sebastian the Corn Snake from Wild Fangs

• Does the company have handlers who have experience or have qualifications?
Don’t be afraid to ask about their handling techniques or methods. Don’t be afraid to ask if they have reptile handling qualifications.
• Do they have a performing animals licence?
Not all reptile handlers do. Ask to see a copy of their certificate if they do. If they don’t, then why not?
• Do they have a website? Is the website up to date?
Check their Social Media accounts as well. READ REVIEWS! You can find reviews on Facebook and everyone is Googlable. If someone is good they’ll be being talked about. If someone provides a poor service, everyone will also talk about it. You make your mind up.
• Are they accredited by the Children’s Activities Association?
Some reptile handling companies are. This means their policies and procedures have had an independent body assessing them.

Booking A Reptile Party – Things to Ask.

• How many reptiles will they bring?
This could help you work out the most number of children to invite. They will be able to tell you.
• Will more than one creature be out at any one time?
This is a BIG question. You’re paying the handler to be in control of the creatures. If there are two creatures out, which one are they in control of? This rings alarm bells to me. Could you trust yourself to get a party guest out of bother if the handler is with another set of children? What exactly are you paying for? The animals or the handler? Both, of course.

H and Milo the Giant African Millipede from Wild Fangs
• Is it okay to put a snake around your neck?
There are no rules or guidelines saying that you can’t. Lots of companies do it, and it isn’t bad business practice. Some reptile handlers are working towards a regulated industry to have this stopped. If a snake is around your child’s neck, the reptile handler should be close by. It may be more acceptable with a smaller species as long as the handler stays in contact.

How to correctly handle a tarantula, something to think about when booking a reptile party
Samantha Weller’s son Tyler at his party, handling a tarantula. Reptylers stepped in at the last minute when the original party was cancelled.

• Does the host put spiders on heads/faces?
They should not. This is dangerous. The spider could blind you for one. If you see photos of a tarantula on someone’s face or head, avoid. Oh, and the spider isn’t keen on human breath either! This is DANGEROUS. Avoid. More to read here.
• What are the chances of conflicting animals being out at the same time and in the same vicinity? For example, a chameleon next to a snake.
This is dangerous. For obvious reasons.
• Is hand hygiene promoted?
It should always be, from start to finish.
• Is there ever a time you shouldn’t handle a snake?
When it has just fed or has shed. Ask your handler this, see what they say.
• Are children left unattended?
Children should never be unattended with most animals, especially snakes.

Booking a Reptile Party – The Booking Form.

What you need to see:
– Company address
– Email address
– Phone number
– Clear terms and conditions
– Ask to see a copy of risk assessment and handling procedures documents too
What are they providing, what insurance do they have (get it in writing), and make sure you know what their cancellation policy is.
Think of it this way. If you book a soft play party for your child you get tons of pages to read and sign before booking. It isn’t unreasonable to expect that from a reptile party company too. Plus sometimes reptiles can get ill.

BIG ALARM BELLS if you don’t see a company address on there and an email and phone number. Messaging in Facebook isn’t a good way to contact someone. Remember our experience? You can get blocked by the company.

Booking a Reptile Party – Payment.

In an ideal world, you want to put down a deposit and pay the balance at the party. Some places might not ask for that, or might offer you a better deal if you pay in full. Bear in mind, if you need to cancel, your options will vary depending on how you paid.

Most companies will ask for a bank transfer. Maybe they’ll ask for Paypal too – most people accept it. Please make sure you send the money as a business – not as friends. You can’t issue a claim to get your money back, and you’re not friends with the reptile company. You’re entering a business agreement. They’re likely to be doing it to avoid PayPal fees.

Booking a Reptile Party – On the Day.

We received a list of the creatures that would be coming the previous night. This helped as I could let the other parents know, so they could pass it on to the children. A good reptile handler will keep you informed and you won’t need to chase them for anything.

These useful hints have been compiled with help from the Reptile Party Facebook Group, plus additional help from Lee at Reptylers and Maria at Amazing Animal Encounters. Thank you Andrea for the group existing, as without it we all wouldn’t have learned as much as we have about reptile parties.

The photos are taken from H’s excellent Harry Potter  Fantastic Beasts Themed Party that we had, where Wild Fangs were our entertainment.

Other excellent and recommended Reptile Party Companies.

Stories for Life with Penguin Books.

Books make the best Christmas presents – and within those books there may be stories for life. I know there are books which have stuck with me to this day, having made a lasting impression when I was young. We received a parcel from Penguin Books with three books inside.

We love Books - Penguin, Stories for Life, presents

The challenge was to get the three books and wrap them, and give them to someone who would also love them.

I have a bookworm here at home – a seven year old bookworm. She’s fed daily on a dose of books which she seems to devour with little or no fuss. Fruit and vegetables come as an optional extra. So getting three new books and keeping them away from her was a task in itself.

Today is the 5th December, which is a special day in mainland Europe. They give a present for Saint Nicholas Day. So I’ve let H open one of these presents early. I decided that Clare Balding’s debut book ‘The Racehorse Who Wouldn’t Gallop’ would be a fun read. H loves horse riding and has had a couple of goes this year. I like that it sounds like a fun story with the horse being the main focus, and getting him to actually gallop.

Penguin, Puffin, Stories for Life

We also got a Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, Double Down. I know my nephew loves that series, so that will be one for him. I suspect there may be tears as H has recently declared a love of the Wimpy Kid books. The story is about a mum worried about her boy – Greg Heffley. She worries his brain is turning to mush from watching too many video games. So Greg has a plan to convince his mum that he’s actually a creative soul which he hopes will get his mum off his back.

There is also a Zoe Sugg book – aka Zoella. I have heard of this young lady, though as H isn’t quite in her age range she hasn’t made it into this house. My cousin’s eldest daughter is thirteen and I think this could be a good one for her. Girl Online – Going Solo is about a girl called Penny. Penny makes friends with Posey, and it looks like there’s a charming Scottish boy called Callum in there too. It sounds like a fun teen read anyway – so it’s all ready for her!

If I was to buy a book which was much-loved as I was growing up, then I know what it is. I was OBSESSED by The Famous Five. This was especially due to the 1970s tv series (which I now own on DVD). I think the tv series couldn’t actually adapt the first book as it had a different copyright holder. They touched on it for their first production. I had all the books, and they were all the 1970s TV series covers. But then I grew up. The books were given away… and only one was kept. But I kept it with me – it moved from house to house through the years and is still with me now. Given how H treats my Harry Potter books, she has not yet inherited it – maybe when she’s a bit older. You can quite clearly see the number 1 in the top right hand corner, so I’ve already defaced it a bit in my younger days – and there are scribbles at the back too. It is well-loved!

Five on a Treasure Island Stories for Life

Ah, The Famous Five. A world which existed full of adventures, buried treasure, caravans, circuses, wrecks, Kirrin Island. Of friendship and being there for each other. Family too. I love that the books are available with new covers by well known artists. We’ve now got her the Box Set for Christmas – The Book People did a good deal. I think we may have to sell the older copies to make some space! H has recently moved on to Malory Towers, and I’m certain I still have all those books hidden away at my mum’s. At this rate she’ll end up owning them before I can find my copies!

H loves reading, and I love that stories I read when I was younger are still in print and loved by my daughter. Maybe her books will in turn be passed on to her children when she’s older?

You can’t beat the gift of reading – these are all stories for life.

H gets trendy with BooHoo Kids

I’m the sort of person who wears jeans and t-shirts on a daily basis, which in turn has passed on to H. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that but at the same time she’s seven. She’s discovering her own style and – oh – she’s tall too. So our age seven girl tends to wear clothes for age 9-10. BooHoo Kids recently launched and offered us the chance to order up to £35 worth of clothes from their website.

BooHoo Kids offer a really good range of clothes. I wanted to make sure H had something which would be worn plenty of times and would also be good for special occasions. With her being so tall she can get away with skinny jeans, so we ordered her a black pair. To go with it, BooHoo Kids have a fabulous red sweatshirt with a big black love heart on it. It looks pretty good and is still our jeans and t-shirts style.

Boohoo kids star skater dress

When you’re seven you’re getting invites to parties which might be a bit more party-like than just games (like, say, when you were six, right?) so H chose a skater dress with a star pattern on it. I think she looks fabulous in it too! It’s just the right length.

The black jeans and red sweatshirt were perfect for mufti day at school – warm for outside and unique enough for inside that she wouldn’t lose it (unlike most of her school jumpers this term). She was also nice and warm on Bonfire Night! The jeans were long too – important when your child is tall.

Boohoo kids heart sweatshirt and skinny jeans

I found that BooHoo Kids sizes could have come in a bit too small for H. She’s 137cm, and that’s pretty much anything age 9-10. I would recommend going on height rather than anything else. The waist of her jeans isn’t adjustable, although that isn’t a problem.

I like how they’re easily washable and hard wearing too. They keep their quality and I love how the slogans available on the t-shirts are the kind of things H would say. If we’d had double the money to spend she would have wanted even more!

Ordering from BooHoo Kids was easy. I ended up doing it in my browser (they have an app too), the clothes arrived in a few days.

We were given a £35 budget to order clothes from BooHoo Kids, all opinions are our own. You can find their clothes here

Butternut Squash Risotto with Bright Horizons

Now that the nights are getting darker and colder (and wetter) we’re having more time indoors as a family. Now H is seven she’s doing more around the house which is great – including cooking. After a bit of deliberation we decided to make a Butternut Squash Risotto from the Bright Horizons Cookbook.

butternut squash risotto recipe

Butternut squash risotto is pretty straightforward to make too.

Ingredients :
300g Butternut squash
20ml Vegetable oil
200g White onion
2 Garlic cloves
400g Risotto rice
1l water
400g Haricot beans
100g Fresh spinach
10g Fresh parsley

Instructions :
Set the oven to 200c/400f/Gas mark 6

h ready to make butternut squash risotto

Peel, deseed and dice the butternut squash. Coat it in half of the vegetable oil and lay onto a baking tray. Roast for approx 30 minutes until the pieces are soft.

add garlic to butternut squash risotto

Chop up the onion and crush the garlic. Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and add the onion and garlic, sautéing until soft.

Add the risotto rice and mix well so it is coated in the oil. Pour in a third of the water (we added a stock cube to it) and bring the mixture to simmer. Cook until the liquid has absorbed.

add beans to butternut squash risotto

Keep adding water, a little at a time. Add the beans too (one tin should be the right amount). Keep cooking until the water is absorbed. Keep adding water until it has all been absorbed and the rice is cooked.

chop parsley for butternut squash risotto

Chop up the parsley. Stir in the roasted butternut squash, and add spinach and half of the parsley. Mix until the spinach has wilted.

add butternut squash to butternut squash risotto

Sprinkle the remaining parsley on top before serving.

We also added some Knorr Aromat All Purpose Seasoning right at the end.

butternut squash risotto

This recipe is taken from the Bright Horizons Family Cookbook, which has several family recipes which are suitable for younger ones to join in with too. H enjoyed taking charge, with Shaun making sure she didn’t do anything daft. (at one point she said “Mummy! Touch this pan to check how hot it is” – sigh)

The Butternut Squash risotto was excellent too – nice and filling and a great winter warmer. H was happy as she did loads to make it and I was happy as I didn’t have to make it!

We were sent a copy of the Family Cookbook from Bright Horizons, and a Doodle Apron for H to wear. You can find more family recipes from Bright Horizons here. These recipes have been used by a nursery who provide day care in Fulham.

Miffy Tulips Now Growing in Holland

Dutch tulip breeders have recently produced a variety of tulip to represent Miffy. We were sent some Miffy Tulips to plant.
miffy tulips, nijntje tulipa

Miffy Tulips are a lovely deep red colour. They were produced to match the red shade of Miffy’s dress. Miffy of course, is from Dick Bruna’s much loved bunny storybooks from over the last 60 years.

The cultivation process started back in 2001, and they’re hoping to be on sale in 2017/2018. That’s fifteen years of cultivation!!

This year there are only 2,500 Miffy bulbs in existence. You’ll find most of them in the Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands. It opens from the 23rd March to 21st May 2017. You’ll see them growing on their walk of fame, as well as the Miffy Garden located in the park.

Panda preparing the soil for the miffy bulbs

There are also some Miffy tulips growing in Carshalton as we received some! H planted them this weekend, it needs to happen in November. Our biggest fear is that the local squirrels will try and dig them up (I will be so cross if they do). We’re going to get some mesh to put over the top of our plant pot, so that should prevent them from doing it. This will still allow the bulbs to grow.

the miffy tulips are ready to be planted

 

The planting instructions are pretty straightforward. Get rid of weeds, and make sure your soil is turned over.

Place each bulb around 5cm apart, and then dig them down deep around another 10cm.

Cover them with soil and then give them a water. Then you just have to wait for them to grow.

Around March time you should start to see some Miffy tulips!

Miffy tulips being watered

They look pretty awesome and I can’t wait for a bit of colour once this coldness is over and spring begins.

We’ll be reporting back on the Miffy Tulips progress – we’re really looking forward to seeing them.

Miffy Mums

Wild Fangs Reptile Party – A Fun Birthday Party

H had her seventh birthday party in October. It was a Harry Potter Fantastic Beasts party so Faik from Wild Fangs came to our house with five of his reptiles.

Faik from Wild Fangs
Faik from Wild Fangs

Wild Fangs is a business based in North London. When I emailed to make the booking Faik was quick to reply, and let us know what availability he had. He wasn’t able to do the date we already had booked, so we brought the party forward a week.

Booking with Faik was easy. His website has loads of information, including which reptiles he has. Because of the Harry Potter theme we wanted to try and have as many which might cross over into the stories.  We paid a deposit to confirm the booking, with the balance due on the day. Once we had paid the deposit he emailed us over an invoice to confirm the booking.

We were in contact when necessary which was reassuring. 24 hours beforehand Wild Fangs confirmed which animals would be coming along.

We had five reptiles in total, and they complemented the party theme well.

Tiny the African Bull Frog with Wild Fangs
Tiny the African Bull Frog with Wild Fangs

Tiny the African Bull Frog

A blurry Sebastian the Corn Snake from Wild Fangs
A blurry Sebastian the Corn Snake from Wild Fangs

Sebastian the Corn Snake

Gizmo the Ferret's Obstacle Course with Wild Fangs
Gizmo the Ferret’s Obstacle Course with Wild Fangs

Gizmo the Ferret

Faik from Wild Fang introducing the kids to Derek the Bearded Dragon
Faik from Wild Fang introducing the kids to Derek the Bearded Dragon

Derek the Bearded Dragon

Milo the Giant Millipede from Wild Fangs
Milo the Giant Millipede from Wild Fangs

Milo the Giant Millipede

We had the party in our front room which we cleared out pretty well, so there was plenty of space. Fitting 17 children in our room (plus adults) worked. Faik was great at getting the kids to be quiet when he needed them to listen.

Stroking Tiny the African Bullfrog with Wild Fangs
Stroking Tiny the African Bullfrog with Wild Fangs

Faik told us all about each creature and took questions from the kids – and no question was too silly. Yes, we got the ‘does he poo?’ one early on. That’s the thing – a good reptile handler is ready to answer all kinds of questions. The children all felt quite involved.

Meeting Derek the Bearded Dragon with Wild Fangs
Meeting Derek the Bearded Dragon with Wild Fangs

As H was the party girl she got to touch all the animals. Most of the other children got a chance too if they wanted to. They were all told how to sit if they weren’t sure, and that it was okay if they changed their minds. By the end of the party we had an obstacle course set up in our front room for Gizmo the ferret!

H enjoyed feeding Derek the Bearded Dragon. Her friends also got to have a go.

H feeding Derek the Bearded Dragon with Wild Fangs
H feeding Derek the Bearded Dragon with Wild Fangs

Afterwards one of H’s friends sent a thank you letter. We’ve never had a thank you letter for being invited to a party! I need to take a photo and send it on to Faik, a letter like that shows the child had a brilliant time.

I would definitely recommend Wild Fangs for reptile parties. H had a brilliant time as did her friends.

Dressing Up at School

I hate it so much. Those dreaded dressing up at school days. You know the ones. Previously we’d get a little bit of notice… like, maybe three days. Since H moved to Junior School we’ve had a little more. But still, they exist.

So you do your best to make something of them. Somehow, I had the foresight to buy something which has been extremely useful so far. The only problem with any dressing up days at school is you don’t know what is likely to happen in subsequent years.

So what exactly is that useful thing? Why, a simple white oversized adult t-shirt. I sewed some ribbon around the middle as a tie, and happened to have plenty of felt around for logos.

So far, we’re on our third dressing up day at school, and it is about to be used again.

The first time was for a day when the kids needed to go in dressed as a knight. I cut out and sewed on a simple felt crest to the front of the t-shirt. Add a knight’s chain mail head thing (we bought at an English Heritage place) and H felt knight enough.

Knights Day dressing up at school

The second time was for a pirate day. The crest was removed and I cut a green skull and crossbones, which was sewed in its place. I also made a little waistcoat from a reusable shopping bag, with matching tie.

Pirate Day dressing up at school

Given I got a CSE 4 in needlework at school, this kind of thing isn’t one of my strongest skills. But it works, and it’s fine for a day.

This week at school we have a Greek day. Well this is now easy. I’ve removed the pirate crest, and H will wear the simple plain white t-shirt, with purple ribbon tie, and some leggings.

Ancient Greece Day dressing up at school

I’m now getting confident and rubbing my hands with glee at what school are going to throw at us next. I suspect it might be Year 4 when it comes out again, possibly a Roman day.  Dressing up at school doesn’t feel quite so painful any more!

An adult white t-shirt (this one is medium) is great – cut off the sleeves and you have enough room to put warmer garments on underneath if it’s cold too. It cost me £3 from Matalan.