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.
We’re big Pointless fans in this house – and often play along if it’s on tv. When we were given the chance to review University Games’ Pointless Mini Game, of course we went for it.
The Pointless Mini Game works too. I wasn’t sure how the format of Pointless would work in a game, but it does. There are loads and loads of questions too – so less chance of you remembering the answers.
The game includes your main questions, cleverly in a holder which covers up the answers at the bottom of the card – you can’t turn over the card as there are more questions there. You get a pad to write your answers down on and that’s it.
So, for example, question 1 has anagrams – you have five options. Christmas number ones, with the year. It says the game is suitable for age 12 and up, but H (age 8) got one of these straight away. Mind, I’d recommend anyone H’s age is part of a team.
Other options include initials of people or things, and titles of things with every other letter missing.
The good thing is that the quizmaster can be anyone too and you’re still part of the game.
The five answers are at the bottom of the card. Once you have written down your guess, the quizmaster reveals the answers. The Pointless score is there, and whoever has the lowest score, wins. Repeat for six rounds and that’s it.
The Pointless Mini Game works too. We played a few games yesterday, it was one of those days where you stay inside as it was getting chilly. This was by far our favourite – there was enough variety it was difficult for us all and just like Pointless, some of the most pointless answers were a big surprise.
Not long now and we’ll be heading back to Wembley for the Women’s FA Cup Final 2018. This will be our fourth year going; I’m filled with delight that this year it’s on a different day to Eurovision. At last!
Tickets are on sale right now for the Cup Final, as SSE customers we bought ours via SSE Rewards – it has cost us £15 total at a 50% discount. I also entered H into a competition to be a mascot but I suspect we’ll have no luck on that front.
Things are looking interesting on the football front too; our Crystal Palace Wildcats are back after a short Easter break. It looks like SSE and the FA have put even more money into the Wildcats clubs and making even more available to join. One has even opened in Carshalton, although we’re sticking with our Caterham gang!
It is almost a year since H joined Wildcats. She’s still enjoying going every week, and at £3 a time it isn’t expensive. It’s also a lot more enjoyable for us parents now the weather is warmer. Standing out in the cold has been quite hard at times in the past! She has made loads of new friends. I love that she isn’t with school friends so has different circles of friends now.
Oh, and this isn’t just about H – we’ve made some friends too which is great!
We love going to Wembley. We’re sad we haven’t got to see Tottenham play there, though we’re looking forward to visiting the new White Hart Lane.
I love that more opportunities are opening up for girls, here’s our local flyer. It is worth having a go. The more groups of Wildcats girls there are, the more girls will end up playing against each other and having even more fun. Football has done wonders for H, and I’m so happy there are more groups opening up.
Here’s hoping this year’s SSE Women’s FA Cup Final is a record-breaking crowd!
You’re eight. You’re standing at the foot of a tree, a very big tree. It might be as tall as a house, maybe even taller. At the top is a ledge, a small ledge with an instructor waiting for you. All you have to do is climb to the top using the ladder and the large staples. Once you get to the top you zipwire down. Can you do it?
That’s H’s PGL experience – or one of them – summed up.
PGL Adventure holidays are a whole new experience for us. We went to Marchants Hill for our Brownie camp, taking just ten girls. You let PGL know what sort of activities you want to do and they tailor them accordingly. We asked for confidence and team building, and on the second day we found ourselves on a foggy Sunday morning standing by the zipwire.
For the zipwire there were three different courses. Unfortunately we were moved from the two easily accessible ones to the scariest looking one which involved climbing a tree. I couldn’t have done it, and wondered if our girls would be able to. In the end only half managed – but the ones that did had the time of their life and we were all so proud of everyone for giving it a go.
Some girls surprised me because I didn’t think they’d do it, but they had the determination. H was one of them.
It was high – any zipwire expert knows you need to start high to get a good run. H said she got half way and felt terrified. She didn’t want to continue. But then she also thought about it rationally, she didn’t want to come down either as that looked pretty difficult. So she kept on going, looked down to me when she got to the top (for reassurance) and then dealt with the final hurdle, getting off the platform. The instructor had H shouting over to the other zipwire instructor (something along the lines of “Craig is a muppet”), and once the giggles took over she was ready to go, and that was that.
That to me is what the PGL experience is about. It’s what you make it. If you want to do something then only you can be the one who does it. Being part of a team and having a go is so important. If it’s an individual task then having a go can improve your confidence.
As a leader I could have joined in but chose not to, and to make it about the girls. I tried not to help as much as possible and let them work it out. Also – my back.
Other things we did include quad biking, raft building, buggy building and problem solving. Lots of different activities which involved water, knots, working together and laughter – very important.
Oh, and PGL has a songbook – you will learn many songs. They will probably involve Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or various fizzy soft drinks. Or toilet water. Or cow poo. They will make your child feel included.
The quad bikes are limited to 10mph and each bike has a safety plug on it. Once we got there the course was pretty small as well, just the right size. This was H’s favourite activity by a mile.
With a hearty breakfast, lunch and evening meal included we always felt well-fed and ready to face the day. You need to eat well and feed yourself more than usual as you’ll use a lot of energy walking around the PGL site. Each activity has a different instructor, and as they finish you’re returned to your main instructor who gets you to where you need to be on time.
The evening’s entertainment was organised for the girls, the first night we had a quiz night and the second a disco – this was the only time we were indoors too (apart from food breaks). This was a good excuse for us Brownie leaders to head to the bar on site and have a 30 minute break. The second night there was a free wine and cheese night – of course we went! The girls are looked after by their PGL leader and we’re always nearby thanks to it being a really well laid out area.
We visited PGL Marchants Hill for three days (two nights), at a cost of approximately £115 each. There are Girlguiding deals available.
When we asked each girl what they enjoyed the most about PGL everyone had something different – from learning knots and building something, to the zipwire. H’s favourite was the quad bikes!
It was the 29th April 2015 and news started to come in – Clandon Park near Guildford was on fire. Beautiful Clandon Park – a Grade I listed mansion. But there’s good news – Clandon is being rebuilt.
Clandon Park is a mansion near West Clandon, near Guildford. On the 29th April 2015 a fire gutted the mansion, all bar one room. The fire started in the basement and spread to the upper floors.
Fortunately several things were saved and retrieved before the fire took hold. However, a lot was lost – including the inside of the house. Clandon Park is just a shell.
As National Trust members, we’ve combined Clandon Park and nearby Hatchlands Park in a single visit. When H was a baby Clandon was the better of the two for little legs. It has now reopened, and things are changing.
From January 2019 work will begin on restoring Clandon. The ground floor will be as close as possible to how it was, with the upper floors having an exhibition area which will continually change. On the top floor there’s talk of a dining area with spectacular views across the Surrey Hills.
We were given hard hats and hi-vis vests and had a look inside the house.
There is a walkway through a section of the house, and it’s fascinating. Obviously it goes without saying it would be better the fire never happened, though because it did, the people who volunteer at Clandon have learned so much about how the house was built.
For example, in the Royal Chamber; a room which was always ready for any passing Kings or Queens to stay, should they need to; it was discovered the walls had several layers. Initially wood was nailed into the walls which were then covered in hessian. Wallpaper was placed over that, leaving what everyone saw up to 2015. But now you can see the layers underneath.
How about some 1930s fireproofing? There is a tiny section which hangs across the upper floor. Sadly ironic, it’s the only part which still stands up there.
Incredibly, the marble fireplaces remain intact. The staff at Clandon Park found that pillars thought to be marble were in fact painted to look that way – and were just plaster. On the first floor statues (again, marble) are intact. You can see smaller fireplaces which survived as well.
What H thought would be a boring hour or two ended up being a really fascinating hour or two. Seeing the structure of the house, how thick the walls are and seeing where wood and stone staircases once were is really interesting.
If you visit Hatchlands Park, I’d recommend a trip to Clandon Park as well. It’s just up the road, the grounds are open too. I wish it wasn’t interesting and that we were visiting as normal (the cafe in the basement was always one of our favourite National Trust ones), but love that H came away asking different questions about the build of the house.
In the gardens we spotted loads of newts in the pond in the Dutch Garden – with the glorious sunshine it was a lovely day to get out and enjoy being outdoors. Looking across the bulb meadow to the house there was a hint of sadness, though knowing things will change in the coming years means this view will happen again.
To visit Clandon Park, please check their opening times. You can turn up to visit the house, you don’t need to pre-book. Spending money at Clandon Park also helps vital funds needed for this rebuilding project.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.