I have often joined in with other mums in class to do a collection for our teachers. I have often given boxes of chocolates to people to thank them for teaching my daughter in swimming, Brownies or football. End of term gifts are important (we feel).
End of term gifts are that tradition that is getting a bit out of hand. It has just passed and with it came the acknowledgments for everyone who made H’s last term a good one. So that’s one teacher, two teaching assistants, two Brownie leaders, five young leaders, one swimming teacher and one football coach.
It can get expensive…
So this year we invested in two things – a glass cutting tool which is remarkably cheap via ebay – and a wood burning tool.
We did a trip to Ikea for a pack of six glasses and some wooden spoons, ready to create.
The glass cutting tool is the easiest of the two once you get the hang of it. H wrote a message on a small piece of paper which was stuck inside the glass to trace. I outlined it on the glass, and H filled in the area a bit more.
Remove the paper from behind and you will have a clear idea which bits need extra cutting.
One thing to bear in mind is there will be glass shavings on your table, so cover it up accordingly and clean up well afterwards. This isn’t recommended for outside crafts, especially if windy.
The wood burning tool was slightly trickier. The heat involved can burn you – fortunately I had blistered fingers though learnt my lesson the hard way. I always have tweezers handy to change the nibs on the tool. Ours has six different nibs you can use, including several which can just be stamped.
For obvious reasons I don’t have any photos – it was extremely hot to hold.
H wasn’t so keen on the writing side, but loved stamping designs so as a compromise she wrote her messages on her spoon in pencil and I wrote over them using the wood burning tool.
It isn’t easy, but gets easier with practice. You have to hold the tool quite far back – so not like a pencil. Slowly and patiently are the way forward.
We had some Tiger Stores clear wrap and gingham ribbon which made the end of term gifts easy to decorate. Wash the glasses carefully and fill with sweets. Wrap the clear wrap around them, tape at the bottom and gather at the top with an elastic band. Get a piece of gingham ribbon and tie a label for the person it’s for around it.
I think the end of term gifts look pretty good! The best thing is they’re something practical too, though I have heard horror stories about teachers having cupboards full of mugs…
This week we received an email, letting us know that our Saturday football sessions with Crystal Palace Wildcats will finish.
Which makes several young girls aged 5-11 quite sad.
Wildcats are girls-only football sessions which we’ve been attending since we did some work with the FA. We have an awesome group of girls, we meet almost every Saturday whatever the weather and we play football. We train, we learn skills and we have fun.
But not for much longer.
I had noticed several clubs starting extra Wildcats sessions around the country, and Crystal Palace weren’t alone in this, starting three extra sessions.
Which leaves me wondering – has it all been too much? Have SSE stopped sponsoring Wildcats and actually the clubs can’t afford to do this, so these sessions are the first thing to go? Has the FA pulled funding?
We don’t have answers, just that there’s an opportunity to move to Caterham Pumas.
But it does make me wonder, If that was the case, why didn’t they set up Caterham Pumas Wildcats?
Although then we wouldn’t have had our amazing coaches, Charlotte and Sophie. They have made such a massive difference to all of the girls, bringing a love of football to their Saturday mornings. H used to be someone the boys wouldn’t pass to, to now being someone who will try and get a ball from the boys.
They have been brilliant, and we’re all gutted that won’t have training sessions with them any more. They made a difference.
It does make me wonder. Is it about money? Everything to do with women’s football is to do with money. Look at the new league structure. Coincidentally, Crystal Palace Ladies were accepted into Women’s Premiership on the same day we got our email saying the sessions would no longer exist. I’m sure the two incidents aren’t linked…
So, onwards we go, having to find another club to play football. I can only hope any future coach gives H the support and confidence which got her to the level she plays now. I’m hoping that all her friends she made make the switch as well…
Thank you Charlotte and Sophie. You made a difference to a lot of girls and will continue to do so. Thank you for taking the time out to make a difference.
I’m not sure where I spotted the advert for Smol Laundry Capsules. It might have been Instagram or Facebook. But I was intrigued; laundry capsules sent to you by Mail Order. How so?
Smol Laundry Capsules are a pretty simple idea that I’m really liking at the moment. This year I have made a conscious effort to make sure we only use cruelty-free products and laundry was always the most difficult.
Smol Laundry Capsules do not tested on animals, nor sell in countries that insist on animal testing. This is important to me, as quite often a lot of brands say they’re cruelty free “except where a country requires it” – so that’s hardly cruelty free, is it?
There are several options available. I went for our usual Non-Bio and sent off for a trial pack which costs £1. You can’t go wrong with nine washes for £1 can you? Unfortunately it took the Croydon depot a really long time to deliver it, my first proper delivery had already arrived!
After washing the first thing I noticed was the smell. Oh my, it’s a good smell, a lovely fresh scent. My clothes came up clean and so far, several washes in I have no problems to report. For larger washes I’ll use two capsules, though in this warm weather most of my washloads are fairly small.
When the Smol Laundry Capsules arrive, they’re in a nice small package. Probably around the size of a Graze box – letterbox sized. This means they also store well in the cupboard – I’ve often found my washing products take up a lot of space. Not any more.
So how does it work? You work out roughly how much washing you do, Smol will then send you your next load of 24 capsules before you run out. At the moment I’ve put us down as doing a washload every day so should get more Smol in a week or so. If you do more then it’s easy enough to increase the amount, and of course if you’re on holiday it’s really easy to skip a delivery too.
Smol costs £3.85 for each pack of 24 capsules with postage included.
As a cruelty-free option for something I do a lot, I’m pleased Smol Laundry Capsules exist, and hope that more people will get on board – it’s a brilliant idea and so far I’m impressed.
This weekend we’ve had a new addition to our family. Hagrid the Bear.
Hagrid the Bear is named by one of our friends, it’s the perfect name but H is still to come around to it. She will. Here’s his story.
I’ve been an active PTA member since H started school, doing it alongside my job and Brownies, plus this blog whenever I can. The PTA is important – especially these days. With school cuts, you can often find yourself funding things the schools can no longer pay for. In our case it’s IT Software. Yes, IT, the subject of the future. Good old school cuts, it’s quite depressing.
However, the upside of this is the summer fair. We went along to help our school yesterday, sitting on the Crazy Sand stall which is always fun. You get to help kids make interesting creations with varying sand colours (I’d like to think Brownie leader skills come into it and being able to help kids without being too bossy).
Then of course, there’s the grand raffle at the end of the day, with such delights as a Samsung Tablet, tickets for Chessington and an Amazon Echo Dot as prizes.
We only buy a small amount of tickets, but always contribute to everything as much as we can. I didn’t expect to win, though it would be nice, as we’re trying to get rid of things for potential downsizing. Swedish Death Cleaning and Marie Kondo are my friends right now.
So imagine our joy when H’s name got called out as a prizewinner. We won this. A.K.A. Hagrid. (H is still not convinced, but let’s face it, he’s a Hagrid. Big bear, much loved).
Apparently, there were tears from some kids in the playground when they didn’t win him. There were tears from Shaun and I as we wondered where on earth the bloody bear was going to live. There were tears of laughter from the parents all around us as we had all stood repeating “please don’t let us win the giant bear” and they saw our faces.
H had tears of joy, however. “He’s going to sleep in my bed!” she announced. No he’s bloody well not!
He makes a good foot rest. (n.b. you must always read books with a pen in your hand according to H)
Even Shaun got in on it. He’s got a new buddy.
Eventually, the football finished and it was time for H to head to bed. Without Hagrid the bear. He’s got his own bed, it would seem.
I mean, SERIOUSLY. What are we going to do with Hagrid the Bear? He’s about five foot tall. I’m laughing and crying at the same time. At least we won’t have any problems finding clothes for him, should H choose to dress him up….
So yes, if your school PTA has a summer fair, beware of the giant bear. He might come to your house when you least expect it… and if you donate one as a prize to the fair, you’re probably me. I totally get it now…
We’re participating in a book tour for Double Felix by Sally Harris this week.
Double Felix by Sally Harris is a new book, also illustrated by Maria Serrano. It tells the story of Felix, an eleven year old boy with OCD. He does things in twos. This is from skipping on every second step to tapping door handles twice. Or even just placing everything in pairs.
A new girl starts in school, Charlie Pye. She has cereal for lunch and lives on a boat – and more importantly hasn’t grown up with rules in her life. It’s a whole new world for Felix. How can he possibly deal with someone who has no rules or order in their life?
It’s safe to say, Double Felix has become one of H’s new favourite books. She’s on her fifth or sixth read already. (whispers – it might have even replaced Jaqueline Wilson’s ‘Katy’ as the new-favourite)
So what was it about Double Felix by Sally Harris that made H go back and read it again? Here’s H (age 8)’s opinion :
I like it. Felix does things twice, he’ll say things twice. He goes to see Hugo Fielding, a counsellor at school which helps him. He’s taught to fight back against the thing in his head – Basil the Bully (named after the Basal Ganglia in the brain).
A girl arrives at school, she doesn’t wear the correct uniform and that annoys Felix to start with. They become friends, and that helps him a lot. He has someone to talk to and play with. They don’t seem to have anything in common, but their friendship grows. I really liked that.
I asked H what it was that she liked. She couldn’t really pinpoint what it was, but liked that it had a happy ending.
She breaks the rules and to start with Felix can’t deal with that. His life revolves around the number two – he doesn’t like odd numbers, he doesn’t like to get odd numbers on things. Only even. Even the chapters are in even numbers! The only odd number chapter is Chapter 27. This is because it’s the last chapter in the book, and Felix has learned to accept odd numbers I think.
It’s a really good book and I’ve really enjoyed reading it. I feel like I’ve learned about people who have OCD a little bit by reading this book.
We were invited to Leavesden to visit the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire tour at WB Studios. It was our third visit, H and I eagerly going along as proper Harry Potter fans. Shaun joined us knowing that it’s quite good fun and interesting, having surrendered to everything several years ago!
The Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire tour at WB Studios runs until September 2018. There are a whole load of new things to see while you’re there.
We found it was a good idea to watch the movie beforehand. It’s not often that a movie has its own exhibition which makes remembering and spotting things a lot easier. The thing I’ve found with the WB Studio tour is you see things you’ve missed on prior visits all the time. There’s always something new there.
The biggest change is the entrance – the large building (which we were told will be a Fantastic Beasts extension back in December) is well on the way. Nobody would confirm this on our visit, though it makes perfect sense, got to store the Nifflers somewhere, right?
Passport in hand, we entered the building making sure to stay on the left hand side of the room to get front row seats in the auditorium.
It’s all about the Great Hall though, those doors,
The first thing you’ll spot on the right hand side in the Hufflepuff section is Cedric Diggory’s jumper as worn for the Triwizard Tournament.
At the end of the Great Hall the Goblet of Fire was on display with a demonstration how it works, plus an additional ring around it so nobody can take some polyjuice potion and try and swing the result. It’s a nice touch having the Fred and George mannequins either side of the goblet!
You get souvenir parchment at this part too.
Once you clear the Great Hall you can do the tour in your own time. This means in H’s case you have to read every – single – thing. Again. Which is okay but the staff were closing areas behind us as we had a 6.45pm slot.
Other things on display include the taps from the prefects’ bathroom – so tiny in real life.
There’s a golden egg from the Triwizard tournament plus how they created it.
In the costume area you can see Fleur Delacour’s costume which she wore to Hogwarts for the Triwizard Tournament.
Inside Dumbledore’s office you can look into the pensieve which was fun.
One of the most fun parts of the WB Studio Tour is the photographs. Within the broomstick area you can have two different photos (and a video) – one family shot…
Or maybe just a little bit of broomstick training.
Later on as we got to Platform Nine and three Quarters we got a family shot on the train carriage. [all photos were provided to us for free]
Tom Riddle’s grave is on the main floor and is the centrepiece of the area by the Forbidden Forest (it was on a ledge higher up in December). Obviously you need your photo taking with it…
The Forbidden Forest has plenty of sound and visual effects as well as the creatures who live there – particularly Buckbeak.
From there you’re into Hogwarts Express land…
With the Backlot Cafe the next stop on the tour. We stopped for a quick bite to eat and of course the obligatory Butterbeer. This time we all opted for ice creams and as a slightly dehydrated old lady, mine went down a treat in about ten seconds flat.
Once you’re at the Backlot Cafe you’re just over half way. You can sit and relax or just wander around outside taking in the Knight Bus (peeping at the beds inside), Privet Drive and Godric’s Hollow.
There’s also the only section of Hogwarts Bridge made (the rest was special effects) which is fun to wander down, plus the motorbike and sidecar as favoured by Hagrid.
There’s also the Ford Anglia as driven by the Weasleys. Top tip – when photographing the Ford Anglia make sure you’re not too far to the right hand side.
The next area holds the special effects where H tried to get Dobby to do the Macarena again (he wasn’t playing ball) and dabbing (he did that). You’re soon at Diagon Alley and the tour is getting closer to the end.
A model of the Durmstrang ship which the Durmstrang Institute used to get to the Triwizard Tournament is on display. Of course, the final part is the giant Hogwarts Castle. At the front is a small model of the Beauxbatons carriage entering Hogwarts – keep an eye out!
As you enter the wand room you’re at the end. We spent ages looking for friends who worked on the films but only found Jarvis Cocker. It’s an impressive room with a wand for all the castmembers and people who were involved.
Oh, and right there, at the very end is the Triwizard Cup. One of several made for the films, it’s in a glass case and looks mighty splendid.
It’s also the point you’re about to enter the merchandise area. We spent a lot of money there in December so skipped this part, but for anything Hogwarts this is the place to spend your hard-earned cash.
The additions to the tour certainly do the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire book and film justice. It feels like there is they’ve included everything.
The WB Studio tour has the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire exhibition until the 23rd September 2018 – tickets are available now. We’d recommend going for early slots to get maximum Hogwarts time there!
We were given tickets to see the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire exhibition at the WB Studio Tour. We also received photo passes, our butterbeer, food and a chocolate frog. We’ve visited twice before, so this didn’t affect our opinion in any way.
My last phone was a Samsung Galaxy S5. It served me well, but was slowly dying, falling apart. With vouchers I had for my birthday as well as other ones I found, I was able to buy myself a new phone and opted for the recently released Motorola Moto G6.
The Moto G6 is a bit bigger than my previous phone and it’s way more powerful. With twice the capacity at 64GB I’m having a much better experience. I have a sim-only deal with Three and didn’t want to enter into a contract as my deal is a good one.
My main concern was the camera. I loved my S5 camera, but making the switch to a different brand was going to mean re-learning things a bit. Actually, I now prefer the camera – you can focus and move the exposure within the shot. I know the iPhone has this function, but my Samsung never did. It makes a huge difference having the option.
My photos have definitely improved too – I need to get to a gig to see if that will be trickier as I’ve read review saying the Moto G6 has a slow camera. I haven’t felt this is an issue for me.
I’m really enjoying the filters too – I love the portrait filter so much.
There’s also a spot colour option – I tried to get it to pick up my red hair, but it also got a lot of my red face!
My most favourite camera feature is the text scanner. Oh my goodness – it works really well too. This will be a huge timesaver when I need to copy up notes.
The Moto G6 runs on Android 8.0.0 (Oreo) which is the latest version.
The other place we use our phones a lot is the car. We always use our in-car connectivity via Smart Link – and the difference is astounding. More often than not the S5 would be slow, couldn’t connect and would frustrate us especially when we were lost. Not so with the Moto G6 – it connects straight away and loads immediately. The extra space on the phone has made a huge difference.
We haven’t actually had it not connect yet…
Then there’s charging. The Moto G6 can fully charge in an hour and a half from empty, thanks to something they call turbopower. I am very impressed with this turbopower – my battery lasts for a couple of days as it is. Nothing seems to be draining the battery at all. It uses a USB-C cable.
Security-wise, the Moto G6 uses my fingerprint to unlock it. This frustrates Shaun and H a lot as they want to play on my phone, but at last I can deny them this delight. There is also a pattern you can draw on dots as an alternative but they haven’t seen that yet….
One feature I like is the phone arriving with a protective case included. I like when companies think about the little things you’re likely to forget.
The Moto G6 takes a nano sim. That’s the tiniest one. I had to go into a Three store, who were able to issue me with one straight away.
This is the other good thing; I’m with Three on a sim-only deal. I pay £15 a month for unlimited texts, 200 minutes of phone calls and 30GB data. I don’t want to change it, so I needed to find a good reasonably priced phone which has everything I need.
The main difference between the two phones is that this one isn’t waterproof. I never tested the S5 to see if it was, but now have to be ultra careful where I wasn’t before as I had that added security. However, the G6 is water repellant. Handy when your daughter is kicking water at you… but not handy if you drop it in water (which I have never done with any phone).
There is a slightly more expensive dual sim phone option, but my deal on Three means I should never need it – I can use my phone around the world without any bother.
So far, I’m loving my Motorola Moto G6. After vouchers I paid £30. It currently retails on Amazon at £214.97 (affiliate link). I’m looking forward to more days out to take more photos – and I’m loving that everything is backed up to my Google account and seems to be unlimited too. Hopefully this means my phone will last me for a good 4-5 years.
May the 4th be with you, as they say. We finished our Ravensburger Star Wars collection jigsaw on May 4th as well. It’s a toughie and is a Ravensburger Adult puzzle; read on to find out more.
Our Ravensburger Star Wars Collection Jigsaw is from The Empire Strikes Back; where Han Solo is frozen, where we meet Lando Calrissian for the first time. So if you’re expecting a jigsaw which features Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia then this isn’t the one for you.
If, however, you’re looking for an Empire Strikes Back jigsaw which nods to the upcoming Solo movie, then maybe this Ravensburger Star Wars Collection Jigsaw will be the one for you.
It has 1000 pieces, and is a Ravensburger Adult puzzle. Normally we’d do jigsaws together, but this one is pretty tough. There’s a lot of blue. Quite often you won’t be able to work out where the blue goes. There is so much blue it starts to feel like you’ll never finish it!
All in all it probably took us a couple of weeks to finish this Ravensburger Star Wars Collection Jigsaw. I’d like to think that we’re pretty good with jigsaws in general, and with work every day plus activities after school, an average or easy jigsaw takes a few days.
I think this would make a great present for an older Star Wars fan – younger fans would end up frustrated (I’m going for H’s age – 8-9 year olds here). There’s nothing wrong with that – it’s good to have jigsaws for older people too – and H enjoyed helping from time to time.
We were sent the Ravensburger Star Wars Collection Jigsaw for the purpose of review. We give it a big thumbs up, it kept us busy in the evenings. You can buy it over here (affiliate link) – though looking around I’ve now seen this one – oh my! (the price, the pieces!)
Here we are, H is almost eight and three quarters, we’re heading into the home straight before she turns 9. This age is a great one – I’m finding I have a lovely sociable daughter who isn’t fazed in any way around adults and will happily join in the conversation. Sometimes she even has an opinion.
She’s not the most confident child, but she’s speaking out more and more. She’s had a rough time with friendships at school since September. I put a lot of that down to 8-9 year old dramas, hormones and life. Simple, right?
I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be H’s age, but do remember this was around the time we left York and moved away. Which strangely enough we’re looking at doing with several possibilities at the moment.
I love that we go shopping together, and she’ll try on clothes because she knows her style. We’ve had several shopping trips of late as she keeps growing – her new favourite shop is New Look. I quite like this as I get 10% off with my NUS card.
H is growing her hair again for the Little Princess Trust, alongside a fellow Brownie (and neighbour). We’re planning a big talent night to raise some money, Brownies & Guides Got Talent which should happen at the end of the year. I’m hoping the two girls can spur each other on – it’s such a wonderful positive thing to do.
My little swimmer is having her term of swimming lessons at school. She is in the Advanced group which is helping enhance her regular lessons. She’s working towards her Gold Award badge and is coming on really well.
I’m watching her grow. At Brownies I can see her taking on more responsibilities and helping others. At PGL I saw her grow from a girl too scared to do things to one who got on with it and did it and had the time of her life. Who went on a school residential for two nights and had a brilliant time.
The Women’s FA Cup Final 2018 was a repeat of 2016, two teams we’ve seen a few times but always different. When I go to Wembley to watch the women’s game I feel safe. It’s somewhere I will go for a happy atmosphere. It is still so different to the men’s game – however, things are changing.
The Women’s FA Cup Final 2018 was Arsenal v Chelsea. That’s okay, the women’s team of both have players we like – and in H’s case, Fran Kirby. I could have sworn we’d never seen her play, but looking back to 2016, in fact we did.
All we wanted to see was some great football, to enjoy the atmosphere and to get home at a reasonable time.
This time we were in Block 221, right on the back row so a decent view of the game, though to be fair you get that from most areas at Wembley. It was only later on I realised why the game was a bit earlier than usual – because it would be fitting in with Tottenham’s games at Wembley for this season. I hope they keep it at this time for future years.
We go as neutrals every year, sitting alongside supporters of both teams. Unfortunately I had a chap next to me who made it his job to boo every time Chelsea did something which got a bit tiring, especially as he was the only person doing it. We don’t need that negativity! We support football! I just clapped louder to drown him out, helped by Wembley providing everyone with pieces of foldable card. H had about five of them and it definitely drowned him out…
Mid-way through the Women’s FA Cup Final 2018 and we had no goals, and I was starting to calculate the time we’d end up getting home if it continued that way.
Fortunately Chelsea got three, Arsenal got one and the game was decided by 90 minutes. Also – Fran Kirby scored so H was delighted as it was a GREAT goal!
This year there was an FA Fanzone outside Wembley. We saw the new Subbuteo set which is based on our two Women’s FA Cup Final 2018 finalists. You can’t actually buy it though, only win it in giveaways. Hmm.
We were in that area just as they announced that Fara Williams and Mary Earps, England players, would be there for autographs. H was happy as she loves being in goal and made sure she got her Wildcats buddy their autographs too. Overall there were less freebies (a good thing, we don’t need more SSE spongey things) but more things to do. The weather was perfect as well.
We had food inside Wembley. Three hot dogs cost £18. Did I mention that our three tickets for the Women’s FA Cup Final 2018 cost us £15 total? We’ve been SSE customers for our gas and electricity for over 8 years, finally making use of SSE Reward. Our tickets were half price.
Will we be back again next year? Of course – this year had a record-breaking 45,000 supporters attending – way up on last year’s total. We wouldn’t miss it for the world.
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